I’ve started to feel more like a volunteer lately. 

I’ve tried to settle into a routine here (it changes about every other day, but I’m trying to make it consistent).  I study language in the morning at work and in the afternoon I actually do work, as long as the electricity stays on, the internet will stay connected, and no computers decide to act up (these things happen weekly).  I even have an official assignment now, so that is exciting.  I am trying to find donors for a drug awareness project my organization wants to implement.  But until now I have been trying to gather information about the town and my organization.  I’m still working on getting the information I requested.  Things just happen slowly around here.  Even more exciting news is, I’ve even started running!!  I run in the morning, before sunrise, so there are less people out, and I won’t get chased by strange men.  I only run a mile because my street is only a half a mile one way, and I haven’t run since October.  I get to run a half a mile down hill to the end of my street, then turn around and run a half a mile uphill.  Eventually I’ll find a loop.

Even the little things I’m getting more used to.  When I first arrived in Azerbaijan and started to live with my host family I would remember the days I showered and count out the days until I could shower again.  Here, people shower about once a week or maybe twice a week depending on their living situation.  During training, my host family’s bathroom and shower room were located inside the house.  It was easy to take a shower twice or more a week.  With my host family in Shamkir their bathroom and shower room are disconnected from the house (this seems to be the norm in Azerbaijan).  The bathroom is always the outside temperature; and at this time of year that means COLD!  The shower room is the same way.  When they take showers, they have to light the petch to heat up the water and the room.  After it is warm, you can take a shower.  I take a shower between once or twice a week.  I try to do twice a week, but that doesn’t always happen.  Either I forget (which is something I never thought would happen to me), I’m traveling so the schedule gets messed up, or I need to wait because of the water level.  Since I shower twice a week, my shower time has gotten longer too.  In America, my shower would last 10 minutes.  Here it takes about an hour.  There is just more dirt behind my ears.

Yes, a volunteer’s life is a little grungier and a whole lot slower.  At times I feel completely unproductive, and I think “if I had stayed in bed all day, I would have gotten the same amount done.”  Even though I may be unproductive, the fact that I am in the office, waiting, and willing is a good start.  I take many of the unproductive moments to be more productive and practice my language.  Boy, do I need lots of help with the language!  I hope to make it through the winter happily and come out in April understanding more of what is said to me.  No more scrunching my eyebrows together, looking bewildered, and cocking my head to the side.  Hopefully by April I will have started something or be in the middle of a project, hopefully! As they say in Azerbaijan, “In Shallah!” which means “God willing.”

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