...to the AZ7s! Around this same time last year, myself and a group of about 62 or 61 (or somewhere around that number) swore-in as Peace Corps Volunteers. After two months of language and technical trainings near Sumqayit, we finally became official Peace Corps Volunteers (during those two months we were considered "trainees"); the seventh group to do so in Azerbaijan.
Throwback! the YD (youth development) group during orientation:
I remember packing up my things the day after our ceremony and then going around to my clustermate's homes to say goodbye to them and their families, which we had spent time with throughout PST (Pre-Service Training). (BTW: We were divided into groups of 4 or 5 trainees who lived in host families near ours, and each of these groupings was your "cluster". We had our language classes with the other people in our cluster. I'm trying to do a better job of explaining myself since I realized those who aren't too familiar with PC probably have no idea what the f I'm talking about half the time, especially when I use weird ass lingo and acronyms like "PST". My bad!)
The day after I packed up all my crap, I hopped on a marshrutka with the 5 other PCV's who were going to sites near mine, Zaqatala. (btdubs: We refer to our geographic location as the "middle finger" of Azerbaijan. On a map our area looks like it is the middle finger of the hand-shaped country.) I remember sitting in my seat on the 6 hour trip north thinking, "Okay, this is it. Ahora si que va comenza e'ta vaina!" I was excited, I was nervous, I was anxious; all sorts of emotions/thoughts were running through my mind.
Fast forward a year later. I'm sitting in my room, updating my blog using my wireless internet, having a cup of çay. I look back at all of the things that have happened over the past year, all the projects, all the experiences, all the new foods I've tasted that I refused to even glance at when I was still in America, all the people I've met and had fascinating and wonderful conversations with---and I'm so grateful to be here, right now, having had all of these moments and knowing that I still have another year to look forward to.