On Tuesday I had my close-of-service medical exam. It was thorough, and yet I have a litany of things to do when I get home. One of those things is dental –my teeth still don’t feel quite right. One is testing for parasites – the bonding experience we had in Morocco of having to provide three stool samples in three days doesn’t take place for the PCVs here, because there isn’t a facility equipped to analyze for parasites. I’ve been extremely careful about my food and water intake – but the doctor cheerfully said that I might still have some. I don’t have to go through the whole list of what was done or what is still to come, but I do have to say it’s depressing. And except for the dental, it’s all wellness/checkup stuff. I can only imagine how depressed I would be if something were wrong! I love my friends who are doctors, but I don’t want a barrage of tests and I don’t want to deal with insurance. Both of those alone are incentive to aim for a healthy lifestyle!
Tuesday I was also a part of a panel of international development agencies presenting to the PCTs (i.e. the A-19 trainees). MCC/MCA, UNDP, USAID, the EU, USDA, and GIZ (the German equivalent of USAID – of course, this assumes you know what the rest of the acronyms stand for!) presented their programs in Armenia. And there are a lot of them! I haven’t done much PR strategy, which was part of my original job description – in the partner evaluation report that my counterpart wrote, she admitted that the strategy was set before I arrived – but in its place I have been doing PR and increasing awareness among PCVs/PCTs in various ways, and this presentation was another. The audience was receptive and asked insightful questions; many signed up for more information on MCA-Armenia, which may help with sustainability after the Compact ends. It was also interesting for me to hear about what the other agencies are doing here in Armenia – democracy and governance, climate change and biodiversity, economic assistance, livestock programs, and much, much more. Most sobering was the introduction that the UNDP person gave – he said that before the world economic crisis hit, the projection was that the world would fall maybe 23 percent short of the Millennium Development Goals. Now it is dire – by 2015, they may not accomplish even 50 percent of the goals.
There are some loose ends that still aren’t tied up, and I’ve been working on those, plus a new fact sheet and revising my article about the 1000th borrower. In addition, much of Monday was spent getting ready for the presentation and much of yesterday was spent following up on the presentation. Then I was asked to do something fun – interview the CEO of MCA-Armenia for the final bulletin. I’ve seen him give speeches and I’ve talked to him only a little bit when we were in the same car on the way to one of the events, but this is a chance to ask him to sum things up. And it’ll give me a good chance to sum things up too. What a good note to go out on! I’ve been working on my list of questions today. The interview is Monday and then my last day in the MCA-Armenia office is Tuesday; the rest of next week will be Peace Corps checkout.
Last night I went out to dinner with a friend of Zoe’s whom I’d met briefly. She’s a Dutch teacher, and I thought it would be fun to have dinner and get from her a few words with which to impress my family. I am so glad to be stopping in the Netherlands on my way home. It has been way too long since I’ve seen them, and the visit will be far too short, but it’s much better than letting even more time go by. I didn’t get that many words (and my relatives – along with just about everyone else in the Netherlands - speak English so well that I don’t need any at all), but it was interesting to talk with her about how she ended up in Armenia - she came to volunteer with earthquake survivors and now she teaches people who are going to marry in Holland so that they can pass a test to get their visas. She said they are almost entirely women, and fall into two categories – young women who are marrying diaspora Armenians who come here for a quick visit to find a young Armenian wife, and slightly older women who are marrying for love.
Before I go to the Netherlands, there’s Goris and then Karabakh and then Gyumri and then Georgia – I have hotels set and transport mostly planned and haven’t yet wrapped my mind around what I am going to do in each place. I’ll read up a little bit next week and on the transport, and if I have a more leisurely trip rather than a whirlwind, that’s all right – I’ve been feeling increasingly stressed since the beginning of the end (or since the beginning of the hot weather – which may actually have come at the same time – though we’ve had some thunderstorms this week and it’s a little cooler). And after the Netherlands? Well, a game plan of sorts is starting to crystallize, following some recent discussions with friends. I had in mind that I’d like to decompress and adjust, while sending out resumes and networking and either writing or working on a business idea (note – helping my sister figures into this equation too, as needed). That’s still the plan that’s in my head, but the discussions made me feel more focused and ready. I still don’t know what is next and I still say that epiphanies don’t happen on demand, but I think it will help if I go into it with a more positive attitude!
And last for today – my post on the MCC Poverty Reduction Blog was published!
http://www.mcc.gov/pages/povertyreductionblog/entry/reporting-from-armenia-a-peace-corps-volunteer-working-with-the-mca. It went through edits and approvals so to me it no longer sounds like my voice, but it’s still my story.