Monday, March 21, 2011

Training seminar & first spring hike

Cheryl and Vicki at the seminar in their "power suits."
The "broken rock"--a hole in the bluffs into the roof of a large cave.
The first spring wildflowers!

Cheryl "on the trail"--though what trail, we're not sure...
Monday morning at the library and, as usual, I am trying to get motivated to finish a grant and do some other work. But first I will write a brief blog about the past weekend. Grace had organized a “career development” seminar for young women at the Windows on America department at a local university—a place where many of us have English Clubs, etc. The purpose of the seminar was to give advice and information on practical topics such as resume writing, but also to talk about the women’s movement in America and nontraditional careers, etc. As older women with more job experience, she invited Cheryl and Vicki and I to help out.
The seminar turned out to be a great success. About 23 young women came, all of them good English speakers. I talked some about my nontraditional “career track” (they were especially fascinated by the auto mechanic part); Vicki did a great presentation on resume writing and interviewing; and we all talked about the women’s movement in America. It was very enjoyable to take part in such a seminar, especially one where I had to do so little of the organizing.
Afterwards, the four of us went out to the local Indian restaurant for a little celebrating. Vicki had to return to her village, but Grace and Cheryl stayed with me at Ak Mechet. Later in the evening we were sitting around looking at the slide show of my PCV group when Serdar showed up, very excited with his new “international” passport in hand, the document he needs to apply for a US visa. The next step is filling out the application and going to Kiev for the visa interview. They say yes or no at the interview and many Ukrainians are denied visas to the US because of the fear that they will remain in the US illegally. But I think Serdar has a good chance of getting a visa because of his age and the fact that he will be accompanying me. I’m not allowed to go to the actual interview with him, but will, of course, go to Kiev to be moral support. He can’t take much time off from school, so we will take an overnight train, spend the day, and then take the overnight train back. Traveling in Ukraine….
Later, Grace and I got into a discussion with him about the “women’s movement” which he had a hard time understanding and accepting, but once Grace got him to see that the music lyrics of the anti-establishment American bands that he loves so much are saying pretty much the same thing, we got him to come around to seeing the women’s movement as really a human rights movement. But he still balked on the terminology—not untypical, of course. It was great to see Grace in action—she is so articulate and passionate, and I so remember being that way at her age, though I was never as articulate as she is. But the passion, ah that is something I remember so well. And not that I no longer feel it; it is just tempered now by so much life experience, I think.
The next day Grace had to leave early to catch a train, and Cheryl and I took off on what turned out to be a 5-hour hike, following the cliffs near Ak Mechet further south than I have ever gone before. Oh, it made me so happy—exploring the land on a beautiful sunny day, not knowing exactly where we were going, but not really lost either. We first went to a place I had been before—a huge hole in the cliffs into the roof of a cave. Later, as we were making our way towards the next rock outcroppings, we ran into an older Tatar man who spoke some English. He told us that is an ancient site—3000 years old—and that it has a Tatar name that means something like broken stone. Later, I asked my neighbors what the Tatar name was, but no one was familiar with it.
So now it is Monday morning and back to work, just like in America, I guess. It remains cold here despite the spring wildflowers we saw on our hike. A problem at my house because my heater has quit working. Thanks to Neshet and his bringing me a space heater, two of my rooms are nice and warm. But the kitchen/bathroom is freezing cold. My landlords keep having one of their neighbors look at it, but so far no success. The idea of calling a service person is not in their lexicon of how to deal with house problems.
That’s it for now. Going post this blog, have a little tea break and then, truly, get some work done. Love to all.

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