Ok, well let's see, it's now.. what is it? August 5th??? That makes it about 7 months since I have made a post. Let me run down a quick update of what I have been up to. First of all I want to apologize to a bunch of people for not keeping in touch: Eric B., Eric H., Justin L., Jeremy C., Jeremy C., Jennifer S., Onnik K., among many others. It's been a very busy year so far, and it's not even over yet.
So, let me give everyone that looks at this blog (is anyone still checking it???) a quick review of some of the highlights of these past 7 months.
- Extending my service - I applied to extend my service back in January of this year. This means that instead of staying for 2 years which I originally signed up for, I will stay for a total of 3 years, or until September 2008. I did this for several reasons. Mainly because I have a lot of work to do here, and feel that 2 years have not been long enough to do all that I want to do. Honestly, I could probably be here for 10 years, and still be very busy. Also, I wanted to stay because I really enjoy it here and really love learning the language, the culture, meeting new people, and in general understanding this country that was for so long at odds with my own as a part of the Soviet Union. The more time I spend here, the more I notice that many things are very similar after you get over the cultural/language barrier.
- Fish Farm Project - This is a project I am doing in one of the villages near Berd, Verin Karmir Aghbyur (Upper Red Spring). I am working with a great guy named Hunan Avetisian (Also the name of an Armenian hero of WW2 oddly enough) who came to me last year and expressed an interest in building a fish farm in the village. As of this writing we have received the necessary funds from the Peace Corps Partnership program and are acquiring materials in order to begin construction of the pools. My father and my Aunt were the main sponsors of this project. For this I am very thankful. This is one of the main reasons why I stayed for a third year.
- Secondary Health Projects - In June? I believe, of this year I traveled to Yeghegnadzor, in the south of Armenia and helped with a Diabetes clinic in which I worked with several other volunteers to advise diabetics in that region about healthy living, and we also measured blood sugar and blood pressure levels and advised them on how to improve their health. I plan to work with another volunteer here in the Berd area to organize a similar clinic here in Berd with a local doctor at her NGO. In July of this year I also invited a volunteer from a different region of Armenia with experience in Physical Therapy to Berd to examine and advise a local boy with cerebal palsy. I hope it will help to improve his quality of life.
- Computer Camp - This year I cooperated with an organization in Charentsavan which implemented computer camps for school children in grades 8-10 in various locations throughout Armenia. We had a total of 6? camps this year, including one in Berd. Each camp was 5 days in length and covered networking, hardware, web site development and general computer and Internet usage. Just this past week we finished the camp here in Berd and it was a great success, even though we did not have Internet during the camp. I plan on inviting the participants back soon when we have a reliable connection to show them basic usage.