My Great Peace Corps Adventure Part 4

My Great Peace Corps Adventure Part 4

My Great Peace Corps Adventure – Video Blog three

On August 24, 2015 it will exactly one year since I started this great adventure. In that time I have experienced so many great people and learned so much. This short video blog will give you a taste of that. The people and the beauty of Armenia are very welcoming and give me great comfort on this adventure. My work is both rewarding and fulfilling. I hope you enjoy this blog and invite you to be part of my weekly Shabbat Shalom email list if you. I will only include you if you send me an email. Enjoy the video and if it is appropriate consider the Peace Corps as your next chapter..

Steven

My Great Peace Corps Adventure # 3

Chapter two of my GREAT Peace Corps Adventure – Settling in

So new language, new community, new daily routine, and now a new place to call home. Lots of changes, most surprising is that with all of these changes the time moves along very very quickly. I am really enjoying my work and finding it both satisfying and fulfilling. One really strange difference is being an older men in this socieity that values age and men (a little too much I fear) to be very enjoyable. I am called by many papik jan – dear grandfather. Of course I am one of very few men here in Vanadzor who visibly work at my age which may account for some of the deference. Either way my being here seems to be appreciated and as they all say, respected.

The attached video is the second chapter of the story….can’t wait to see how it all unfolds..

Steven

Shabbat Shalom

As the cold snow covers the ground, may the warmth of our friendship keep you and yours warm.

Steven

Shabbat Shalom

Thankful for all of you.

Steven

Shabbat Shalom

So here I am back in the good old USA and working at Temple Beth Zion in Brookline and wishing you and yours a good Shabbos.

I am back in the good old USA

After 22 hours of traveling I arrived back at 23 T Street safe and sound and ready for the next chapter in my life. In this chapter I begin my career as a Temporary Executive DirectorTED by moving into the position of TED at (TBZ) Temple Beth Zion in Brookline. This is a wonderful opportunity for me to work with a vibrant and vital Jewish community. Work starts on Tuesday July 5.

As I am back in the states, I will discontinue this weekly email, because now I can call sister Sandy and tell her what I am doing.

I look forward to catching up with each and everyone of you in person and of course you are always welcome to come visit at 23 T Street on the weekends.

Thank you all for helping me on my great Peace Corps Adventure – Part 1.

Shabbat Shalom

Steven

Coming Home – All is well

How does the old saying go, the more things change the more they remain the same? Well it is true. On July 5, I will once again have the title of Executive Director for a synagogue in the Greater Boston area. (Sorry I can not tell you which one yet) This time it will be TED – Temporary Executive Director. I used to use IED – interim – but that acronym has gotten some bad connotations.

Anyway, I was approached several weeks ago about filling a position on a temporary basis, while a broader search could be conducted for a permanent ED. Well, you see this is the exact position I had hoped would be in my future when I came back from the Peace Corps. A temporary job helping a community in a period of transition. It also dealt with my never ending issue of being bored with positions. It seems I like change – and not same.

Th only issue was the timing. My Peace Corps service did not officially end until November 15 and they needed me sooner. Dilemma! Perfect job and next chapter – or finish my two years of service. NOTE: I left in August of 201, but the first three months were PreService Training. Obviously, I decided to take the position and so on Monday I will leave Vanadzor and all the friends I have made here, travel to Yerevan to spend a few days with Marine (more on that at another time) and then be back in the good old USA around July 1.

I will be moving back to T Street and am looking forward to being at the first Shabbat dinner at Temple Israel of Nantasket on July 1 and at the Fourth of July parade in Natick. AND SEEING YOU ALL – as the next chapter begins – coming home again.

Love you and most of all thank you. Your friendship has given me the support I have needed to do this great Peace Corps Adventure.

I look forward to catching up in person.

Shabbat Shalom

Steven

Summer is here but

I still rains almost everyday. Oh well.

Other than the weather things are going along very well. Programs are moving along although attendance has dropped off in my English Clubs a little, but they are still coming.

My site mate Bryan Jacobs has created another English Club that watches movies in English and discusses them, good fun and great discussions. Speaking of discussions, it is such a rewarding experience to hear my students actively participate in our club discussions. Just the other day we were discussing prejudice, discrimination and diversity and they not only got the concepts but were able to relate them to their own experiences here in Armenia. Good stuff.

More good stuff is that Richard Mills, US Ambassador to Armenia, will be coming to Vanadzor to meet up with the Peace Corps Volunteers here as well as having a meeting with Edgar the Director of Peace Dialogue, the NGO I work at. The topic will be our work on Human Rights. A nice honor.

So Shabbat dinner to night with friends Charlie Forbus and Boris Brooke, two other senior volunteers.

Shabbat Shalom

Steven

The sun is shining – finally

So there is a little story that goes like this. The mommy cloud and a little cloud are floating in the sky high above Armenia, and the little clouds says -mommy I need to wee wee – and the mommy cloud says – not now dear wait until we get to Vanadzor.

I think it has been about thirty days since the chance of rain was alt least 80%. But this morning so far no rain. The sun is shining and summer is in the air.

Life continues to get better and better here with new English Clubs and others going strong. I went to another marvelous event at the Vanadzor Orphanage and the new volunteer Oleg had to go back to the states so his expected arrival date has been put off for at least a week. This is too bad as I am really looking forward to working with him.

The exciting news is that one of my friends Heghine, has started reading Torah. I got her a Chumash while in Israel and she has invited me to Shabbat dinner at her house to continue our discussion of what she is learning about Judaism. Some of you may remember her, she started an English program for disadvantaged children which many of you supported online.So, during recent staff level discussions at her job at 911 (Emergency Services) someone said, well, Heghine is the President of an NGO. Well, the bosses knew a little about what she was doing but it got into a report and the National Minister in charge of the program heard about it and is honoring her in September for her work. To remind you she invites students, who can not afford what is a necessity here tutoring, to her home where along with her sister and mother they teach them English and life skills. The children are driven to and from the classes in a taxi and are given snacks, notebooks and pens. She does classes year round for about 16 kids for the grand total of $1,000, which pays for the taxi, snacks and school supplies..- she does not get paid. It is certainly a very rewarding part of my service. And now she wants to understand how to incorporate her new found understanding of Judaism and its values into what and how she teaches. – Wow what an adventure

I thank G-d for this opportunity to serve.

Shabbat Shalom .

Steven

Shabbat Shalom

Running very late today as I went to a concert this afternoon for the new Vanadzor Technology Center. This is a government and industry project to develop entrepreneurs and create a magnet so as to keep more Armenians here instead of them emigrating to other countries. Emigration is a major problem, as is finding entrepreneurial resources, hopefully this new center will help with both issues. I am hoping that Olag and I will be able to teach some classes in business English there also, but nothing definite yet..

The concert was very cool, and thank heavens it was outside because it was heavy metal and the last time I heard them it was in a small club and the noise was deafening – I lasted 15 minutes. Today I heard the whole set including the song I helped write with them called Critical Song, which is all about the need for more critical thinking.

Everything else is good as I can certainly feel that I am moving into the home stretch. I am even trying to see if I can be home for the High Holidays – I hope – I hope – I hope.

Shabbat Shalom

Steven

A couple of great weeks

Last Friday I was at the Annual SOAR conference here in Armenia where we got an update from President George Yacoubian. This is still one of my most rewarding activities. Today in fact, I spent the morning at the Vanadzor Orphanage with George and others discussing the plans for next year and then together we went to another organization called Orran which works with disadvantaged children. It is just so amazing to have the opportunity to be involved in helping to make these organizations stronger and possibly even help them build a new symbiotic collaboration.

This week I also got to meet Oleg who will take my place at Peace Dialogue when I leave in October. He is a very cool guy with over 30 years of experience working with the UN. Also, he is 70 years old and will be a good friend I feel during our overlap period from June to October.

My English Clubs are moving along and I find that I am really enjoying the opportunity to teach. Because everything is moving along so nicely, I decided to actually add another English Club, so now I teach four classes. Who knows maybe this is something I will continue to do when I come home.

Shabbat Shalom to you,

Steven

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach – Next year may I be in the USA

May this day be for a blessing to you and yours, it certainly is one for me.

Today I walked the streets of Tel Aviv alone as Ovik and Armen wanted to go to the beach one last time before we go back to Armenia. As I walked the history of our people wrapped me in the gentle blanket of a story as old as time and as new as today. My age and life were folded into the age and life of the world around me. It was a glorious day.

Tonight I make my new Shabbat dinner of chicken curry with rice and then I will go to services at the Great Synagogue. It is a good life and such a great adventure.

Thank you all for being part of it.

Steven