Since I think my first year wasn’t great, I will make my second year better. I feel like if I write down the things I want to do and put it out there, I’ll be held accountable and will work hard to do it. I’ll also then need to write about these activities in later blogs. More topics to write about! Hurray!

I divide my work up into three categories: primary activities, secondary activities, and personal development. Primary activities are things I do that fall under my sector as a community economic development volunteer. Some examples would be starting a new class at my work, doing a business training, teaching my organization a new process they can implement, help another local organization, or help someone start a business. Secondary activities are anything else I do in my community. These could range from teaching English, doing sport clubs, guesting with the locals, or starting a music class (basically anything). The third category, personal development, is not a necessary component of Peace Corps—I don’t have to report on it—but I feel I should focus on improving certain aspects of my life.

This year my primary activities will be focusing on improving the management of classes at my organization and establishing new classes. After observing my organization for a year, I noticed my organization does not do well with retention of classes and generation of new comers. The computer course is the best program we have because the class is always full and it has a consistent cycling of new students. The other classes—English and Cosmetology—have been lagging. While we revitalize the current classes and adopt evaluation measures, I want my organization to start summer classes for youth. In addition to helping my organization, I also want to help a local health organization expand. As far as I know right now, this health organization sells vitamins and minerals. With their permission, I would like to help them expand to start physical health classes (like a yoga class) and talks with the community about various health issues.

As for secondary activities, I have many things I want to do. Sometimes my secondary activities can also be considered my primary activities because my organization creates and holds different classes for the community. By teaching a class or holding a summer camp, I could be improving my organization (primary activity) but technically doing something outside my official business role (secondary activity). This year I would like to extend my organization’s focus and create summer classes for the youth to fill their free time. There will be courses that last the whole summer such as art, hemp making, conversation clubs, knitting, or other classes the community identifies as interesting and needed (this could include a business related topic). I think some of the classes could have a fee while others are free. I would also like to do a one week summer camp for 30 youth. I will also start a Frisbee team at my site to play on the Frisbee league started by another volunteer. With these different activities, I will work with students whom I have built a relationship with so they can help me at first and then eventually lead the activity. For secondary activities that do not involve my organization, I am the Finance Committee Head of GLOW (Girls Leading Our World) Camp. For this I write grants to ensure GLOW is fully funded.

I have many areas of personal development I am working on. The first and foremost is my Azerbaijani language abilities. I want them to be stronger, and I want to be advanced high by the time I leave Peace Corps. Right now I am at intermediate mid. As for other foreign languages, I need to improve my German, learn Russian, and start French for future jobs in the International Development field. However, I struggle to learn languages. Realistically my goals for 2012 concerning languages are to mastering Azerbaijani, learn the Russian alphabet and basic survival phrases, and improve my German to the intermediate conversational level. I also want to learn Yoga so that I know the many positions and each positions purpose in order to create my own routines. I also want to improve my physical health and get in shape. I want to be able to run 5 miles. Concerning personal qualities, I need to work on my communication and relationship building skills. To do this, I will focus on building strong relationships in my community (friends, host family, and strangers), building a good working relationship with my boss, and maintaining my relationships back home.

I realistically think I can do this all. However, things might change depending on the enthusiasm and interest of the locals I work with. Inshallah (God willing) it all works out!

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