Monday, August 24, 2009

Off into the wild unknown

Well, tomorrow I'm off into a country that Google barely even recognizes. When I type in the words "map of Tajikistan" Google asks me if I mean Pakistan. There were times when I was worried about that and times when I questioned what the hell I am doing going to a country that Google barely recognizes. As time came closer to go to my orientation in Washington, D.C. and I received my first paycheck then I began to get really excited about a new adventure.

I'll be teaching in Garm, Tajikistan for the first two months of my post. I'll be teaching in the English Access Microscholarship program. This program is extremely competitive and gives under privileged children between the ages of 12-18 a chance to compete for a scholarship to study in the U.S. I will going to train teachers at this particular site and also work with students. Garm is an isolated village in the center of Tajikistan and is also very conservative when it comes to religion. I will be at this location for two months. There is an American organization there called Mercy Corps and I'm hoping to meet with people working there and understand more about their work in Tajikistan. From what I've been reading they are helping the Tajiks to grow food and build green houses and also training Tajik women to be midwives. There is also a German organization there helping the Tajiks with agriculture.

I will be staying at the only hotel in Garm. I was told by my contact at the U.S. Embassy that she talked to a local government official who talked to the director of the hotel and tried to get me a good price for staying for two months. A good price is gonna throw me back $500 USD a month!!! It's definitely not Thailand prices!

I've been packing as many things as I can for the trip and enough to last 10 months. Apparently the health care there is rudimentary, even in the capital Dushanbe. I've packed 3 bags at 50 lbs a piece to take with me. It's a lot of clothes because the second part of my post I'll be in Khujand, Tajikistan where it snows heavily so I had to pack an entire winter wardrobe. I'm a Florida girl...I don't do cold weather, especially in a place with no heat in public buildings. So, I'm preparing for the worst and packing warm winter clothes. I also packed razors, face cream, deodorant, tampons, batteries, and stuff that I know I won't be able to find there. Shipping to Tajikistan will be expensive and receiving is even more expensive. When I receive shipments I'll have to pay import duties and taxes which will probably cost more than the shipment. Therefore, I'm taking everything with me that I can think of that I MIGHT need in the next 10 months.

I've known about this position since May and I have been eaten up for the past few months with anticipation. The time is here now! I'm looking forward to a BUSY, productive, and fun year helping the Tajiks to help themselves.

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