The Peace Corps let us out of Sumgayit!!

One of Peace Corps’ rules is that while we are trainees and stationed around Sumgayit, we are not to leave the area. It’s not like we have time to even if we wanted. Our schedules consists of 4 hours of language Monday through Saturday plus 4 hours of technical training Monday through Friday. THEN we have homework to do. On Oct 18 we got a little break. For 3 days all 62 volunteers got to visit another PCV (Peace Corps volunteer) at their site. It’s a time of inquisition, learning, and relaxation. All we do is shadow the volunteer. It’s a chance to see what a volunteer’s life is really like.

I visited a CED volunteer, Katie, in Mingachevir. I spent 4 hours cramped in a mini bus as the driver zigzagged over the road and the mountain we had to cross. Scary, but we got there in one piece.
Mingechiver is the 4th biggest city and known for being the “City of Lights.” The city management is promoting itself as a vacation spot. I must say, it is a very clean, nice city. The streets are very clean; there is a nice park to walk through with a water fountain at one end framed by marble tiling. The marble tiling may not have been the best practical idea because it gets slippery, but it is pretty. The bazaar (market) is nice too. I even got to try some new fruits: xurma and feyxoa. No idea what the English translations of those words really are though…

The city is also located near a reservoir with a damn that they are very proud of. Over that lake is a nice view of the mountains concealing Zagatala and a tiny sliver of Georgia. The PCVs do go swimming in this lake in the hot, hot humid summers. Should be a nice place to do some vacationing in the summer, possibly…

The Beach. People live on the hill to the right. Very rocky, not sandy.

The Lake. Beyond the mountains in the back is where Zagatala might be.

The REAL reason I want to Mingachevir is to see what a volunteer’s life is really like. I stayed in Katie’s apartment which was small but the perfect size for 1 person. The apartment was very nice, but the stairwell was a bit scary since its dark and shows years of use. I visited 2 organizations that Katie works for. The first was World Vision. Their mission in the city has changed through the years from supplying food and other aid to IDPS, building schools for IDPs, and to now concentrating on economic development and training programs. I also went to the Family Support Center which is some how, sort of, connected with Save the Children. Katie holds a conversation club for 4 of the teachers. The conversation club is very informal and gives the teachers a chance to practice their English. Many people want to practice their English and conversation clubs are a great way to do that. In fact many (I would even like to say all) PCVs at one time in their service run a conversation club. It’s a great way to get started because it’s simple to do and it’s what people want.

I had a good time in Mingachevir. While it did not give me further clarity about what I want to do for work in the Peace Corps or where I would like to be placed, it did confirm my desire to be here. I find out my placement on Nov 9!