Monday, June 6, 2011
Happenings at the library, my home, and a walk to Snake Cave
Still trying to get caught up on my blog posts. Today is Monday, June 6th, and I am at the library in a quiet office for once, since one of my office mates is gone to the annual international library conference in Sudak, a conference I will be attending on Wednesday, hopefully to meet the American representatives there.
My work at the library the last few weeks has been framed by two events—one is the two-day Peace Corps sponsored seminar that we held at the library on May 24th and 25th. I wrote about the seminar and posted quite a few pictures on my Library blog—see the link on the side bar to go to that blog. Overall, I think (hope) that it was a success, though I sorely missed Nadjie’s presence. She was the one with the energy and enthusiasm for the idea of promoting volunteerism in Crimean libraries. I think the rest of the library staff that participated—mostly my office mates and the new young woman who sort of speaks English—wanted to have a successful seminar but were not as interested in the idea. Of the three “experts” (speakers) that we invited from other parts of Ukraine, only one seemed passionate about what she was doing and the information she was trying to convey, and maybe that, too, would have been different with Nadjie’s presence. I do hope the participants got some good information from the conference, and, more importantly, the inspiration to start volunteer groups in their libraries. The evaluations we received were favorable, but for me, without the language capabilities to be able to truly converse with the participants, it was hard to know what affect the seminar had.
The second phase of our project is to work with the libraries in five or six regions to have a “Volunteer Day” in their communities to promote volunteerism. I am hoping that by September or October when we would be doing this part of the project, Nadjie will be well enough to fully participate. I think without her presence it won’t happen.
The second major event at the library is that we received a grant I wrote to purchase a $15,000 book and newspaper scanner to digitize and preserve the rare documents at the library, something the library has been wanting for years. A couple of weeks ago I woke up one night, unable to sleep, and finally got up and turned on my computer with the intention of doing what, I don’t remember. But there was an email announcing the grant award. I really couldn’t believe it. I had sent the grant off a couple of months ago and had somewhat forgotten about it, especially since there was no follow up from the grantor beyond acknowledgement that they had received it. But there was the email before my 4 a.m. eyes, listing the Gasprinsky Crimean Tatar Library as one of eight recipients worldwide to receive a grant from the EMC Corporation Cultural Heritage Trust. They are small grants—we received the maximum amount of $15,000—but it is an important first step for the library in their endeavor to preserve Crimean Tatar history. And I think what I found most gratifying was that someone, somewhere out in the world, read about the Crimean Tatar people and thought, “yes, it is important their culture be preserved.” It is such a recognition and acknowledgement of who the Crimean Tatar people are, which is probably the underlying purpose behind all my work here.
And besides the happenings at the library, in my home life major changes are afoot. Starting in July I will no longer be receiving money from the Gasprinsky and Children’s libraries towards my rent—the Children’s Library because my two year commitment there will have ended and Gasprinsky because they no longer have the money due to budget cutbacks. The Peace Corps has upped the amount they give me, plus I continue to put in some of my own money, but it still is not enough to cover the rent my landlords want. Typically, people in Ak Mechet with small houses like mine rent to groups of students, so the accumulated rent is quite a bit more than I can pay. My neighbors have been renting to me for the last two years because I think basically they like having me there, but what with gas, electric, and water prices all going up, they just simply need to receive more money. I think there is also the possibility that Abdul—their oldest son—and his wife Anifer will move into my place after their child is born this summer.
So I needed to find a new home. I know I want to remain in Ak Mechet, so I decided to ask the people I know here if they are aware of any places for rent. And of course, I immediately asked Lenura and Neshet and, as I knew they would, they extended an invitation to me to live with them. We had talked about that possibility last year when I thought I might lose my home, and now a year later, I think the idea of it is even stronger in our thoughts. At first I hesitated—mostly I am concerned about what living together might do to our friendship—but my love for them and the thought of sharing a family life—something that I haven’t really done in my adult life—was overpowering, so gradually I said yes, I want to live with you. And Neshet has kicked into high gear, trying to finish Serdar’s room so he can start working on mine. I do feel kind of bad that my moving in is causing him to work even harder than he already does, but Lenura assures me that the work needs to be done anyhow. Though maybe not quite this fast… But as of now, I will move in with them after I come back from my visit to the states in August. And I am so looking forward to it, despite my worries about loss of privacy, adjustment to different routines, etc. I feel so much a part of their family now—I really want to live that feeling and see what it is like.
And finally here are some pictures from a long (very long—maybe 10 miles or more) hike that Cheryl and I did, starting from my home in Ak Mechet. We were trying to find something called Snake Cave that we had been told about by an old Crimean Tatar man we met on our last hike. After a couple of wrong trails, we did find where the cave was supposed to be (it was marked by a sign), but we didn’t actually find the cave, as it appeared to involve some scrambling down steep cliffs. But we didn’t really care, as it was so gorgeous up on the bluffs with the beautiful views of Chatyr Dag and the rolling land in multiple shades of green. How blessed I am to live in this beautiful land.
Much love from Crimea.