Sunday, January 13, 2008

its not so bad

I have been at site for a little over 3 months – the first 6months are supposed to be adjustment - figuring out what to do – and it turns out getting over my own disillusionment and frustrations and actually finding what I can do – I think this is why so many volunteers here are so negative –I was really surprised when I got here – everyone was so dispassionate, unhappy , I though god –well I think I see some - many are just disillusioned –this is nothing like they expected when they thought "hey Ill join the Peace Corps" Its not anything like I expected, but the thought of turning out as bitter as so many people here makes me cringe, seems like a wast – I just have to learn to take a completely different outlook – set new goals, get a new plan and vision, to be happy working at a different level
Here is a very simplified list of the countries problems –
a. the authoritative male dominated Culture that undermines and undervalues women
b. laziness and lack of self determination and personal responsibility for ones own future
c. The government and political system
So - a – how do you change a culture, slowly – alright – it is frustrating and discouraging as well as occasionally downright unpleasant for women volunteers here sometimes – but I think this is an area we can do our smalllllll part – b – well im not sure – as a friend here so eloquently wrote me "how do you fix Lazy?" which adequately describes so much of the male youth – the women are of course only expected to get married in the end and be a house wife - There are 30,000 Cay Xanas around my one town – where men spend all there time and money – and lastly – c – what can we do about this problem - Nada, Hecna, nothing really – especially when my very government sweetly wooing the crooks – I think that is what really get me and make it feel so pointless here sometimes – The peace corps is supposedly so impartial – then why does a country like Azerbaijan – so developed in so many ways have ,I believe, just about the highest concentration of volunteers anywhere in the world– Ill tell you , it aint because they so desperately need them. I am disillusioned with my own government and country as much as theirs – When Rudy Giuliani, that antichrist, can actually be considered for a presidency you know we have completely went to the dogs. I had a very sad moment the other day – I have one set of friends here who I talk openly with about the government and the state of the country , an older couple who I love – They absolutely hate the new government and sees it for what it is – and I gather there are only a couple camps here – those who like it, because they get benefits, those who hate it, quietly of course and those who are too afraid and brainwashed to think anything about it at all – The husband is always ranting and she is always shushing him saying they will come kill him or take them off – When we talk of politics, even in their own house is always sort of hushed and secretive – He loves the US, always so great and free and helping people he says and good ol Bush– I hate the subject – how do I explain that is not all good in the US, how do I compare with out being ridiculous, would you tell a man that is dieing of starvation that your 3 crackers a day really are not that good –and lastly there is this sort of feeling of guilt at telling him that America is not the land of opportunity and freedom, it feels wrong to take it away from him – like squashing someone’s faith when it really served no purpose to do so– so I was there the other day and he turned to us with a serious question – he said, America had helped Armenia, and Georgia (there neighbors)with freedom and democracy, they were in Iraq trying to set up democracy, Why wasn’t the United States helping the Azerbaijani people? Why were they just going along with the government instead of stepping in and helping, insisting there be a real democracy, as they had in so many other places - And is was not a joke or a sarcastic question. He really wanted to know and we being the only Americans he knew he asked us - the gallant Peace Corps volunteers traveling the world giving their time to help – what do you say – " why yes the US sees fit to send hundreds of us to hang out with you and make a good impression and what not but has no real plan of helping with the bigger problems because they don’t actually care about the Azeri PEOPLE, they care about the strategic position of the country and therefore their ties with it, in other words with the government" That is a painfully thing to say and even harder to explain – So thanks American Government – Good Job! I used to dream of being in the peace corps – now I agonize over what I can really individually do here –how I can make what feels so meaningless meaningful - I don’t even associate what I do with the peace corps so much and definitely not with the United States – What I am doing here I am going to do for them – for me – So I pray disillusionment over what I’m doing here does not override what I actually can do – come on resilience – How do you reach and effect women, you do every day – how do you fix lazy – you aim at the ones of are not (the women) oh lucky me, that is two birds with one stone – and how do you ignore two entire governments – with skill and mule blinders I guess

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