Patricia Butler - Peace Corps Armenia.
Fisheries and Wildlife major. Michigan State University.
Currently serving as an environmental education volunteer in Berd, Armenia.
Patricia is both a Peace Corps Volunteer and a graduate student in the Loret Miller Ruppe Peace Corps Masters International Program at Michigan Tech. Find out more about this program at http://peacecorps.mtu.edu/.
10 August 2006
I can't say that I'm not ecstatic to be done with PST. Your classes [editors note: your classes = classes in the Michigan Tech Peace Corps Master's International Program] were way more effective than in-country training could ever be. I am meeting a lot of people (and getting their contact info!). Today was our last session, and although we had to sit through a grueling session of 'Language Learning Strategies', it was a short and happy day. The language is definitely tough, but I'm doing well and enjoying it. I can understand a lot and speak a little and everyday gets better. On Monday, all 46 of us (we lost a few) will be transported by tour bus to Yerevan for the swearing in ceremony at the Mariott Hotel (although we'll actually be staying at the Hotel Hrazdan monday night). It will be televised on Armenian National Television, and we'll party with the current volunteers in country before heading to our permanent sites on Tuesday. Whew!
I'll be going to Berd for the next two years. I'll be the first EE volunteer, but there are 3 volunteers from last year living there: two TEFLs and a Community Business Development volunteer. My official job will be to teach environmental education in Berd School #1, which was established 135 years ago! I have a young woman whose name is Arevik as my counterpart. She is the geology teacher in the school and seems really enthusiastic. She's already participated in an eco camp organized by EEs in other regions several years ago and really wants to see improvement in the school. There are also a few running NGOs in the area that I may be able to hook up with in my "down time". CARD and the USDA work in the Tavush Marz (my region). There's a lot of grazing land improvement projects on going and in the making. I've got a good contact in the American University of Armenia who has got a GIS lab and is very knowledgeable about the Birds of Armenia project among many other things. Berd is in the northeast corner of Armenia, about 12km from the Azeri border. The name "BERD" actually means fortress. The fortress was founded in the 7th century and destroyed throughout the ensuing wars, but Armenians always came back to rebuild this city. It's a decent sized place with almost 9000 residents, plenty of stores, a music school, art school, history museum, state college, diamond-polishing factory, and a wine factory. I may have internet access, but usually the internet is down, and sometimes the phone lines are cut. There are plenty of mountains and forests in the area, but the roads are even worse than in Shahumyan. There is a centralized water supply, and I'll be living quite comfortably in a Bed and Breakfast. On my site visit, I already met two girls who were staying at the Inn and knew my friend Kate from Vanadzor. My new hosts are Garegin and Anya Sahinyan who are both retired, but work hard to run the Inn.
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Page created 23 March 2006.
Updated: 10 August 2006.
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