Saturday, July 9, 2011

Site Announcement

Wednesday was a special day for Peace Corps Armenia - site announcement for the A-19 PCTs (Peace Corps Trainees). I still remember our site announcements in Morocco, with all of the anticipation and speculation that preceded it and all of the emotion and questions afterwards. I recall walking with Jong the night before and saying that Azrou had grown on me and that I wouldn't mind a site like that. I remember the pushpin with my face on it, seeing Jong and Ina's pins stuck way in the south and wondering if we would all be put down there, how each site was described to build up suspense before the name of the person getting it was revealed, and inspecting the map at the end to see everyone's faces and thinking about what the next 24 months would be like.

It's a special day and even though I have no particular stake in this one, all volunteers were invited. I'd been looking forward to it for a while, with some of that same mix of hope and anxiety. Most of the current volunteers who weren’t at summer camps were there, to welcome new sitemates or replacements. In the parking lot in front of the school where the Central Day sessions are held, the drivers had drawn a big map of Armenia with the sites marked. The Program Managers took turns naming the sites and the PCTs who got them, and then each person would stand on his or her spot on the map. When they had all been placed, everyone cheered, and the PCTs posed for a picture of themselves on the map. When I visited Chris in Gavar, I saw his picture from the A-18 site announcement, and that’s what convinced me that I wanted to see it for myself this year. The current PCVs from the respective marzes then stormed the PCTs and there were greetings and huzzahs all around.

We next split up by region and the current PCVs described their sites to the PCTs. I joined the Central Region group and discussed some (non-bar, non-restaurant) things people could do in Yerevan; these guys are close enough to come in for the day. I also put in plugs for Zina’s Bed and Breakfast, Peace Corps Response and Millennium Challenge! Much of each PCV presentation concerned the weather – if I were a PCT going anywhere near Lake Sevan I would now realize that I would be wearing long underwear 75% of the time and living in a very conservative region. And if I were in any of the other Central Region marzes I would now know how very hot I would be over the summer and how flat it is. Back in Yerevan that evening, I went to a couple of outdoor cafes with Shannon and Zoe and watched the fountains. I’ve made other PCV friends but might feel closest to these two because of that early work bonding. I know that they feel the same way (that is, even more so) about each other, even though they each have different best friends with whom they spend leisure time (yes, that does make sense, given the nature of Peace Corps). I believe I will keep in touch with both of them; still, the reality that this experience is coming to an end – for them and for me - was palpable. In with the new – the PCTs in their new sites - and out with the old; it’s not the last time I’ll see them but the end is getting close.

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