Sooo here I am in the computer club, actually not the only woman in the place due to my far off site mate skyping with her boyfriend next to me, and realizing that being different has now become normal. Last weekend, I talked to a fellow volunteer who had just gotten back from the land known as America and it was scary what she talked about. Being overwhlemed by so many people and too many choices, missing your simple life, and being saddened a little that your not so popular back home where you can melt right into your surroundings. Here everything I do is noticed and everytime I walk down the street it's liking walking on the cat walk in a new fancy outfit from some famous designer. Some people loving the creation others scauffing at how ridiculous it looks. It bothered me a little in the beginning, but now it doesn't really phase me anymore - with one exception - when your standing/sitting someone and this guy just stares as if he's been starving for weeks and your a beautifully cut / cooked steak. You can't really divert your eyes because of where your at and you dare not stare back for fear he'll start talking to you (Quite Annoying). I've started staring though too, like it's contagious, I see these little Russian kids with blonde hair and blue eyes and stare with the single thought of hey you look like me. They turn around or catch my stare and give me the same look as if we both understand we're different and in a way they sympathize too. People are not mean to me, quite the contrary actually, they just stare like I'm an animal at the zoo.
Everyone here has of course dark hair, dark eyes, and wear a lot of black. I'm 5'11, long light brown hair, pale skin, green/brown eyes, and love wearing color. I thought at first when I was in training that being at your permament site one had to really emerse themselves into the culture and make sure that they were always a good Azeri girl. I thank the heavens now that I was placed in the Wild West where there is an ability for me to be myself. I can do a lot of things that other women can not just because I'm American and I take advantage of that. I think the largest part of me being here is just being different and confident about that. How can I truely express what it is to be an American if I don't act like myself? So I stick out all the time, but I've really embraced it and the people here have embraced me for who I am. Even when they look with horror as I walk down the street eating and drinking from a bottle, I love those moments.
I make these observations because no one back home can understand what it's like being here so helping to describe the people / country / or strange events that happen to me is the only way I know to put things into perspective. I love this country, love my host mom, and adore my conversation club members.
It's a good feeling now that I've been here for more than a month and have a great group of Azeri's that I work with. Problems are always around and I have to remind myself to take things slower, but the women that I work with are super eager to be involved in my projects. Soon the focus will be on their projects with me just organizing in the shadows, making things sustainable. I was really made to do work like this, in a country where I still can't speak the language. Everyday I'm amazed with the types of reationships I make and the amount of people that are interested in working with me. Being positive is the only advice I can give to those thinking about the Peace Corps because it makes the difference between wanting to go home everyday or being excited about the next two years of your life. I can't wait to see how things will work out in the end and what I will look back on once I'm on that plane back to America.