So clearly I am not the best blogger.
It's been almost 5 months since my last post but here's what's been happening in a nutshell.
The volunteers in Dashoguz weleyat were finally sent off to their sites late January
several volunteers came in to take the Foreign Service Officer Exam in Feb
In March all the Volunteers gathered to have workshops and learn about grant writing. This was long but very interesting.
I hoped to follow up on an idea from the previous volunteer at my site, renovating the gym. The school like the idea, sadly the ministry turned me down. But it's not so bad, they claim the government will renovate it and once it's renovated then I can run any sport/ health training I want there. I was told to wait until the end of June/July to hear about plans for renovation this year. I'm still keeping my fingers cross.
Late March and early April was the start of what would be a horrible headache. First I had an awesome time hiking, climbing a few rocks and getting lost for about 8 hours. 'Course being out of shape made me miserably sore the next few days. I ended up calling in sick for two days which made my director really worried. I should've manned up because after that the idea of me hiking, walking a lot or going near mountains seems like a dangerous idea both to my direct and my host family. PC staff was aware of my situation and were supportive of my absence from work, they agreed I should rest and hydrate. There was no serious danger I'm just horribly out of shape...I almost regret getting lost but that was part of the adventure.
April flew by and I made more American friends in Ashgabat. They came to visit my site and I introduced them to one of my best students was was really excited to be around English Speakers. He even offered to drive us to the underground lake, my friends had their own driver, but the boy insisted so we accepted. Apparently the lake costs 3 Manat for locals and PCV's but is ridiculously expensive otherwise. The boy ended up not going down to the lake he said it was dirty and he wanted to wait outside. Still we had a good time and I finally got to eat in a cafe at my site.
Sadly that one day brought more worry from my director. Going to the underground with a student and many adults he didn't know was unacceptable to him. The boy's parents knew about it all but the director was still worried because it also impacts the schools reputation. In the end though all of my director's worrying from way back in March brought on more restrictions on where I could go and how I would notify him. He changed the policy to include a faxed letter from Peace Corps, phone calls and a letter from myself, which is far more than any other volunteer does. And if such things were not done then I was forbidden to leave my site...this was the biggest headache but I talked with Peace Corps and others for help on how to resolve this issue. There were several weeks of headaches and me pestering Peace Corps for a fax that they said wasn't necessary. Luckily, last week a PC staff member came by and smoothed things over and calmed down my director.
That didn't stop rumors and word spreading between the teachers and them now asking if i think the director is bad. To be diplomatic my only response is that he is really strict and I can understand why (because of pressure from higher ups). I'm just gonna try to stay in his good graces and hang out with students less, especially the male ones. That's just mascara "shameful."
But yea that's been my life these past few months.
On a sad note: we've lost more volunteers. But they accomplished what they felt they could here and so made the hard decision to go back. It's been sad, but we're recovering and looking forward to any new volunteers who should just about now be making their decisions about whether or not they want to join us here in Turkmenistan <3
I'll try to post more often and keep it short. I hope everyone is well back in the states.