Tuesday, July 12, 2011

New Work and Old Favorites

My counterpart retuned from vacation and now I have a bunch of new things to do! We had a team meeting on Thursday morning; she does a great job of making me feel like part of the team. I have fact sheets to write and review, the bridge story to finalize and a possible new feature article to write. She also asked me to look at the videos that were produced last year to see if I have any suggestions for this year’s video. Last year’s gives a good overview of the MCC program here, so I am including the link - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U0EccFAUDKU&feature=player_embedded. Also, my gender article was the lead story in the latest bulletin - http://mca.am/files/publications/13079458990.pdf. UNDP wants to reprint the article, so I may expand it.

I was going to go with the team on Friday to meet a farmer to see if he was the right farmer to feature in the closeout video. But there wasn’t room for me in the car. That was fine – it gave me a chance to finish the drafts of my DOS (Description of Service) and Final Report. When I totaled up the number of events I attended (10) and pieces written or reviewed (over 20) I feel I’ve done a lot! Peace Corps Response Armenia also requires a Partner Evaluation – I don’t get to review the partner, they review the program and the volunteer that they got. My counterpart had some good things to say about me! That was fine too.

Friday night began a whirlwind cultural weekend – and my first all-Yerevan weekend in a while. I want to the Cafesjian museum, where there was an interesting exhibit of art by Hagob Hagobian. He made sculptures out of common tools and then posed them as the models for this paintings, mostly as lovers. In the museum’s events space, I attended a concert of the Gurdjieff Folk Ensemble. I’ll cut and paste from their web site… Gurdjieff is known to many in the West as one of the major spiritual figures of the 20th century. His extraordinary musical repertoire was based on the music he heard during his journeys, where he witnessed a myriad of folk and spiritual music, rituals and dance traditions. The pieces have roots in Armenian, Greek, Arabic, Kurdish, Assyrian, and Caucasian folk and spiritual music for Eastern folk instruments - duduk, blul/nay, saz, tar, kiamancha, oud, kanon, santur, dap/daf, tombak and dhol.

On Saturday and Sunday, I revisited some of my favorite museums and also saw a couple of new ones. Both mornings saw me at Swan Lake, my new favorite place to sit (in the shade), writing some haiku (I read a memorial in the Princeton Alumni Weekly in which the alum had written his own epitaph in the form of a limerick – I’m not ready for a final haiku, but I am summarizing my six months in Armenia!).

I then went to the Matenadaran to see the ancient texts and illuminated books, and to the Saryan museum to see my favorite paintings here. I stopped by the Painter’s Vernissage and didn’t see anything I had to have. After a lunch break, I was determined to finally find the Woodcarving Museum, and I did – I admire the wood carving here, and the museum had a small but good collection. Since I was nearby, I went to the Museum of the City of Yerevan, located next to the City Hall. People have lived in this area for millennia, and this is a collection of some of the evidence they’ve found. On to the Vernissage – where after one aisle I felt overheated and dehydrated. I went to the Peace Corps office to rest, but I will admit I overdid it. Fortunately I didn’t have cultural plans for the evening – I napped and had dinner and drank a lot of water reorganized some of my stuff and then I felt well enough to go to Republic Square for a while and watch the fountains.

Sunday I went to the National Art Gallery – there’s a special exhibit on Dali and surrealists. It was all right; not my favorite. I did appreciate seeing art by Kochar and Parajanov in the exhibit, because I didn’t revisit their museums this weekend! I also made my way through the permanent collection. Another lunch break, and then back to the same building, which also houses the History Museum. The 6000-year-old shoe and more evidence of ancient civilizations – pottery, figurines, and then more recent carpets, costumes, lace. I had cruised through both of these on the free museum night after visiting them early in my time here; glad I took the time to go again. And I did another cruise through the Vernissage, where I picked up a few more things. I then had another restful evening at home! It started to rain (and cooled things off a bit) right around the time I might have gone to see fountains; I’ll go again another day. The hiking club offering for Sunday was quite tempting but I am glad I stayed put.

This week is the Golden Apricot International Film Festival (www.gaiff.am/en); I plan to go to at least a couple of the screenings. There are a lot of offerings that look interesting!

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