Too excited think!!

SO I am about to take a nap before Ovik, Armen and I start our journey to the Holy Land. I figured the dates wrong, we should have left yesterday then I would have been there for the first night of Passover,oh well.

Anyway Ovik is taking a nap on the porch and Armen is doing a little wedding before the taxi picks us up and takes us to the airport in Tblisi, Georgia for our 4:30 am flight to Istanbul and then on to Tel Aviv.

I will be taking lots of pictures an posting them on FaceBook as well as including some of them in next weeks email.

For those who are concerned about the security issues in Israel, rest assured I am well aware as is the Peace Corps who has restricted me from going to many areas of the country and also of riding on public buses. In addition, my travel companions are both trained in this area. Ovik does security at the German Embassy in Yerevan and Armen is Deputy Director of the Emergency Services for the town of Spitak. We will be careful!

So I wish all my Jewish friends and family a great Seder this evening and when you say next year in Israel, think of me, because I will be there this year!!!

Love and miss you all,

Steven

The pace quickens

A very busy week indeed. My friend Charles Forbus (76 years old from Texas) and I did a presentation to the new Peace Corps Volunteers on the why and how of strategic planning in the Armenian context. Then on Friday my friend Lorrie Wilkes had a presentation before 250 college students at Yeravan State University on using music and motion to teach English. Seven other PCV’s showed up to help her. I got to run the PowerPoint projector. We all had a good time, especially the students who are used to a much more formal approach to teaching and learning.

I am preparing Shabbat dinner and thinking that next week at this time I will be in Israel for Passover. It is still a little crazy that after all those years of saying next year in Jerusalem, this year I will be in Jerusalem..what a grand adventure this is, on so many levels..

So know that I will miss you all this Passover but I am with you in spirit.

Shabbat Shalom.

Steven

PS I have an article in the upcoming Shalom Magazine – Passover Edition.

A difficult week here in Armenia

Thank G-d not for me personally, but as I am sure many of you saw there was a major flair up between Aremenia and its neighbor Azerbaijain over the disputed territory of Nagorno Karabakh. Young lives were lost on both sides and tensions are still high as now the funerals start. My friend Marine was closely effected when a school mate of her daughter Qnar was one of the casualities. So sad, especially since there really is no good solution to the problem and so it will once again fester until it erupts again at some terrible time in the future.

Other than that Spring is in the air, and it is getting warmer everyday.

But Shabbat is almost here and I am having some of my Armenian friends over for dinner. So back to cooking and being thankful for the blessing of so many good friends.

Shabbat Shalom

Steven

Shabbat Shalom

All good here. In Aygepat my original host village with my host mother Raya and friend Ovick.

Shabbat Shalom

Steven

Shabbat Shalom

Another great week and and even better weekend.

Marine and are doing very well, but it when I changed my relationship status to in relationship that means wedding bells in Armenia and it caused her some problems. I have changed my status back to divorced and that helped lessen the pressure to "set a date" !!! So the pressure is off and we can develop a good relationship without having to answer that question from her friends. Missed that cross cultural cue..

Anyway, have a big shabbat dinner group tonight and then tomorrow after Advanced language class we are all going over to the Vanadzor Orphanage to do some contra dancing led by my friend Lorrie Wilkes. On Sunday Edgar the leader of Peace Dialogue and I are going over to the Dilijan campus of the United World COlleges to give a talk on the history of human rights in Armenia and then a couple more meetings to tlak about other projects.

I am BUSY.. which is good.

So back to cooking – wishing you all a Shabbat Shalom.

Miss and love you

Steven

Shabbat Shalom

I am doing great. I am doing this as I unpack from a trip to Yerevan and waiting to go Georgia with my friends Heghine, her mom and sister as well as my PC friend Bryan Jacobs. I am really excited since Heghine has been reading torah and wants to spend the three hour ride talking about what she is learning. Should be fun.

I just finished a two day training with Peace Corps and will be presenting a section on strategic planning for the new volunteers who are coming in a few weeks.

Well almost time to be picked up.

Love you , miss you and Shabbat Shalom.

Steven

Shabbat Shalom – I am fine just crazy busy

The pace of life is accelerating and probably will until I head home in October, so please excuse me if there are weeks that I do not get a chance to write.

Frankfurt was interesting but too quick a visit to get a real good imprssion except, the trains not only ran on time, but they were clean, quiet, and oh, you buy a ticket but no one checks. Of course if you are caught without a ticket they fine you 60 euros – not excuses, if you don’t have the funds they will escort you to the nearest ATM, everybody pays.

I got to meet with the Chapters Presidents of SOAR form all around the golobe, Brussels, London, Berlin, Geneva, Barcelona, Milan etc. Very good people doing good work, I am fortunate to be involved with them here in Vanadzor.

Work is fine with year two of Reach High and Touch the Stars tutoring progrm is starting up soon. Thanks to a new PCV here in Vanadzor they kids were evaluated and we now have a benchmarks from which to measure their future progress. Thanks go out to all of you help raise the funds for this.

Shabbat Shalom

Steven

Shabbat Shalom – what a week

So here I am in Vanadzor Armenia being a Peace Corps guy and learning to be alone when I am not working because the Host Country Nationals tend not to go out at night. And then what happens well, you guessed it I met an incredible woman and I am no longer lonely because we Skype every night and talk about our kids and how to make Armenia a better country for her kids and their kids and the next thing you know, I am in a relationship.. Her name is Marine Sahakyan and she lives only eight hours away in a town called Kapan. She works at the National Institute of Education as well as teaching English to many many students in Kapan. She has two daughters one 16 and one 19. She is generous, smart, kind, pretty and speaks wonderful English..I am a happy boy..

In addition to this, I just found out that my niece Jenna Rose is getting married in late October and so I will move the date of my COS – Close of Service up a month and be home around mid October instead of mid November as previously planned.

It will be great to be home and see everyone.

In the meantime, my great Peace Corps adventure continues.

Wishing you well,

Shabbat Shalom

A great two weeks

I was a trainer for something called PDM, Program Design Management and it was great fun. I got to help New Peace Corps and their counterparts learn how to come up with and then put together a project according to the PC model. We had a great group and come up with some wonderful ideas that they can take back to their individual villages,and of course I got to do a little dramatic facilitation…

This week the weather broke here and the snow is beginning to melt. It is now getting up in to the high thirties low forties during the days, but it is still in the teens during the nights. I can finally hang my laundry outside to dry. Hurrah!!

Work is progressing and I am going to Frankfurt Germany for a few days for my work at the orphanage,it is the International Convention and I am representing the Vanadzor Board of Directors. I wil report on it when I come back. It is in two weeks.

Other than that the big news is that my new site mate Bryan Jacobs is really integrating into the community and is proving to be a big help. He is really wonderful with the really smart young kids who are find my laid back style a little to casual for them.

I do have a favor to ask, please support the Reach High and touch the Stars program. I am working on more permanent funding but in the meantime your donations are the only way it can continue. I have included the link below but if you do not want to donate online you can send a check to sister Debby Sayre, at 24 Western Ave, Natick MA 01760, made out to me and she will deposit it and I can give it to Heghine here in Armenia.

https://www.generosity.com/education-fundraising/help-show-that-success-in-life-is-for-everyone/x/9911098

Shabbat Shalom and thanks

In Yerevan, the capital city

First, the chicken currry with peanuts came out great. Everyone loved it and I will make it again.

Next Friday and this one, I am in Yerevan doing Peace Corps training workshops and getting to spend some time with my fellow volunteers. The training is on project design and management and focuses on teaching the volunteers who just came how to use the PC tools that have been developed. It is interesting material and provides a good road map for those who have trouble finding how to engage with the community in a rewarding way.

Winter is here, lots of snow and very cold weather. From what I see online it is colder here than it is in Boston..

Well that is it for this week, I need a nap. The one thing about being 65 and staying in a hostel with a lot of 20 somethings is they stay up late and are loud…oh well.

Shabbat Shalom

Steven