So I admit it. I post 4 or more blogs in 1 day. Have I been saving them up? Have I not had access to internet? (You know that’s not true if you check facebook). Why the delay? It was a combination of busyness, laziness, and writers block. Since July, I have a renewed commitment stay at site more often. I’ll tell you a little bit of what happened and what I’m working on.

Since the end of April, I’ve been traveling a lot. Not all because I want to! Sometime during PST (Pre-service training) I realized my tooth ached when I chewed. I told my doctor about it, and I made a trip to the dentist. The dentist decided I needed a root canal. Instead of getting a root canal right away, we tried some other things. The doctor believed I just had sensitive teeth (even though the signs said I didn’t). In the mean time I stopped chewing on that side of my mouth. After a bunch of stress up through March, I realized I had not been chewing on the left side of my mouth. I started to chew on that side again, and the pain came back. I told my doctor again; I saw the dentist again who concluded the same thing. PC decided I could have a root canal. Ohhhhh fun! I started treatment (or what they call root canal therapy—not so therapeutic to begin with) at the end of April. Do to some complications—a large amount of pain and swelling around the tooth—the root canal could not be done as quickly. Instead of 4 visits, I had to do 7. The dentist wants you to visit every 4 days or so. I live in the western region but the dentist is in Baku. That means I got to travel 6 to 7 hours (one way) in a tiny marshrutka on uncomfortable seats with erratic driving that makes me more car sick than usual every week. After the ride in, I got to cry at the dentist office. I at least got a night in Baku to partly recoup and traveled back the next day. I did this for the entire month of May and the first week of June. I broke up some of the awful traveling by staying at friend’s houses on the way out and on the way back.

In addition to trips to Baku, I have also made trips to see friends in other regions. Those trips were at least more fun than my trips to Baku had been. By the fourth of July, I had not spent one weekend at site since the end of April. For July and August I have decided to stay at site. This gives me more time to work.

Let me tell you a little about what I’m working on. What keeps me the most busy is my conversation clubs. I have 3. Two clubs are for beginners—kids who speak a little bit of English. My third club is for intermediates—kids who speak well enough that we can discuss any situation and only speak in English. The third club is probably more advanced than intermediate. I have each club for 1 hour twice a week. I make all the lesson plans myself.

I spend the rest of my time thinking of more things to do, making plans, and searching for grants. One idea I came up with was to have a summer program for kids. In the summer, kids are out of school and don’t have too much else to do. My mother always said that poor kids get into trouble. In April, my host mom Sevil talked to me about wanting to design summer classes for children because they need something to do during the summer. I worked with her to make plans about the type of classes we could offer. Sevil thought of all the classes and who would teach them. We presented the idea to my boss who said he liked the idea, but you could tell in his face it wasn’t going to happen at my work. I don’t know what is skepticism was but his excuses were pretty lame. Unfortunately, we did not start the classes. Next year we will start asking different NGOs and school directors early on and find a place to do it.

Another project I have been working on is one to start a kindergarten. The kindergartens here are not like western kindergartens; they are more like day care centers. These kindergartens do not teach and basically let the kids watch TV (and not always kid friendly programs). My coworker decided he wanted to create a kindergarten that would actually teach children and benefit them. We worked together and wrote a grant for that. Right now, we are still waiting to hear the results. If it is approved, it will be one of my main projects for the fall.

While these three activities may not sound like much—and they aren’t—the end of June/ beginning of July was reporting month. I was busy writing about what I had been doing for the past 6 months as well as giving feedback on different subjects. Midway through July my mind decided it needed a vacation. It recently has come back to me, and I have started to think about what I need to do this fall.

So far my plans are to turn my conversation clubs into different types of clubs like Getting to Know Your World (exchanging letters with other groups in different countries), science club, a writing and presentation class, and running/exercise club. In addition I would like to start a business class that would teach people how to write a business plan and learn the basics of running a business. I’m also looking for a place to start a health and cooking club. I figured I could teach people about nutrition, how to cook with less butter, make healthier meals, and expand their food variety by making meals from different countries while staying on a tight budget. Lastly, I need to do some PACA tools. PACA stands for Participatory Analysis for Community Action. Fancy huh? It just means that I get the community to recognize a problem and come up with appropriate solutions. Then I motivate them to action! Not so easy to do… I need to do this because development is not about implementing what I want. I am an outsider. I shouldn’t be imposing myself, my ideals, my expectations on this community. I also need to do a few PACA tools for my Masters Papers.

Wish me luck! Hopefully not all my ideas will turn out like the Summer Programs for Children.

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