LESSON #1 - YOU CAN NEVER FIT TOO MANY PEOPLE ON A
Aug 13, 2002
Nov 20, 2004
We are all excited about starting language training tomorrow. Getting here and hearing the language and wanting to communicate definitely make it easier to want to learn. At home, I would look at the books or listen to the tapes and just not get excited about the language. Having people do so much for us definitely makes me eager to learn the language so I can express my gratitude. The Peace Corps trainers are using a new method based around "community learning" instead of "group learning". So, instead of classroom time within our group, we will be broken up into community hubs so we get immersed in the schools and neighborhoods as soon as possible. They guy in charge of the training hated his own Peace Corps training so it is really important to him that we be initiated into the action and give feedback about our training needs as much as possible.
Everyone is battling jet lag. I took a Unisom tab both nights before I went to bed and got full nights' sleep so I think I'm doing pretty good. In addition to starting language and technical training, tomorrow we will meet with the Regional Security Officer and start getting our shots - the first round of 12!
We took a bus into Chirchick today with our Language Cultural Facilitators (LCFs - they are Uzbeks). We went outside and the sanitorium staff gathered at the gates watching to make sure we were OK - like we were little birds leaving the nest. They are very protective and go above and beyond to make us comfortable and happy. While we were waiting, cars would slow down to check out the group of Americans. My group of 10 was the first to grab a bus. When it pulled up, I thought there is no way we could fit on it. It was totally packed with all these brown faces in the aisles and sitting on each other on the seats. The driver hopped out, said a few words to our Uzbek trainers and then went to the back door of the bus and literally pulled riders out to make room for us. It was really weird. We still didn't have much room inside and a guy at the back of the bus kept shouting at the other passengers - I guess telling them to make room for us because they did and some even gave up their seats. Another trainee and I tried to speak a little to a few of the men on the bus. Everyone's face lights up when we say we are American. It doesn't get much beyond what parts of America or Uzbekistan we are from and how I like Uzbekistan. A bunch of women last night told me that I looked Uzbek and wanted to know where my gold was. Most people here have gold teeth. The town was quiet, which was good because we got to see it without frenzy. The post office was closed since it's a Sunday but we got to go to the market and practice some language. The market was mostly dried fruits, melons and nuts. There were some children begging pretty aggressively and the market men pushed them away - sometimes using quite a bit of force. It's difficult when our presence creates a problem for other people - like the men that got pulled off the bus. Last night - one of the rooms at the sanatorium got flooded and the girls in the room were told that the staff would be punished because of it. I'm hoping that these incidents will not be as common when we are with our host families and not so conspicuous as a large group of Americans.