Wednesday, September 15, 2010

First day of school!

We had a beautiful, sunny morning to start of the school year! Zeynab, my teacher counterpart and I have a lot of high hopes for this school year, we've been getting together and planing for about a month now so I am really excited and feeling good about the beginning of school :)

Zeynab and I are standing in her sister's garden in front of flowers that my mom sent for me to give as gifts for my teachers (Zeynab gave them to her sister, but that still works :)).
At the first day ceremony (With some of the other teachers). The ceremony is for the incoming 1st graders; the 11th graders (last year of high school) gave them some words of wisdom and then the little ones shared a poem.
My 5th grade class... excuse me, 6th grade class now! You might recognize some of them from my Gardening Club.
All the kids rushing into the school at the end of the ceremony. They are so excited to be back!

With the start of a new year and all of the plans Zeynab and I are trying to make work there are a few things we need that we just can't find here. We are going to start a movie club in October. For this we need kids movies, easier English, that are both cartoons and real people, anything that will entertain but still be easy to follow for English learners. As well as a movie club Zeynab and I are working on creating a resource room in our school. Part of the room will be books for kids learning and practicing English. I'll be writing different grants for it in the upcoming month, but we could always use donations as well. We're talking very beginner books, lots of pictures, anything you liked as a kid or your kids like, or use in school (if you're a teacher). I am absolutely not expecting anything from anyone, but maybe if you were already thinking about sending me a box :) you could throw a movie/book or two in with the lot! Thanks as always! Talk to you soon :)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Katie and Erin!

Azerbaijan never felt so good! This last week I got to share my life over here in the Peace Corps with two of my very best friends Erin and Katie! I swear it was like we were never apart (I mean its only been a year!)! I couldn't have asked for a better birthday present (in June) as having these girls come visit me.
They got to Baku in the afternoon so we had to evening to do a little exploring.
We walked through the old city.
Then had dinner down near Fountain Square at a little place my family will remember well, Cafe Caramel (Its not my fault that I always eat at the same places in Baku, I only get to go there so much and I crave food from home! :))
The next day we went out to see my training family in Jeyranbatan.We ate fresh sunflower seeds right out of the head!
And got to sit outside under to grape canopy.
That night we hopped on the night train out to Qazax!Were we only had a day and a half to explore, so we made the most of it! Mason and Erin made some friends in the bazaar :)
We chased donkeys around while yelling at Mason to take pictures of us.
We walked down to the river and the Heydar Park.
Then we got to Zeynab's house. Mason, Katie and Erin pulled up our water from the well in Zeynab's back yard.
The girls got their fill of tea.
Me and so many people I love!
Look its my living room :)
Then we had to jump back on a bus to get to Baku. This is the bus...
But we had lots of laughs and times to dance those last nights in Baku together!
The Caspian Sea!
You can kind of see the "biggest flag in the world" in the back ground (squint).
We climbed to the top on the Maiden's Tower for a great view of the city.
And then, we found the Flying Carpet. Maybe the best part of the trip, just a little store next to the Maiden's Tower, we spent over an hour in this little shop listening to the guy tell us about all these beautiful antique rugs and other treasures. I ended up buying this silk blanket made in Uzbekistan during the 70's, and of course we needed to play dress up to take pictures of it :)
Azeri style pictures, no smiling.

This summer was fantastic, between my family coming to explore Azerbaijan and take me to Georgia and Katie and Erin running around with me I had a hot and sweaty blast! Now its back to school on Wednesday, wish me luck!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Crushing Grapes

I just got done helping my friend Lori up in Qax with her summer camp! It was awesome! The kids had so much fun and so did the counselors :) But what I loved more than helping out with her camp... we got to make wine! And I mean really make it, with our feet! In Qax their is a big Georgian influence, as there are a lot of Georgians that live in that region and one of the families that Lori is really close to invited us over to help them!
First we had to harvest the grapes. Lori got up on the ladder with her friend Nona to pick the ripe grapes and throw them down into the wheelbarrow.

Then we bagged the grapes in something like a big rice sack and put the bags into a trough looking thing. The tough had wooden grates in the bottom and was tilted up on one end with a hole at the other.
Then we took turns going to work. Wearing rubber boots (making wine is not like it is in the movies with bare feet I guess! We all definitely used a pumice stone on our feet before going over to this family's house cause we didn't know!) we stomped and danced and kicked until all the juice came out of the bags.

We collected it all and put it in this HUGE barrel. But when this barrel is full it will be transfered into an even bigger clay pot in the ground. We tasted the grape juice, it was soooo sweet and delicious and I'm sure our wine will be to die for as well ;)! So much fun!