This week was the Counterpart Conference for all of us new OCAP volunteers. That is when we get to meet an actual person from our site in Almaty and spend the week with them. We try to fish out information about our city, our organization, and anything else that we can discern from our limited Russian abilities. Next week we then go to OJDA where we travel with them to our site.
So Tuesday comes (the start of the conference) and everyone is excited to meet their counterparts. I show up and am told that I do not have one yet. Because of problems at site, no one was able to make it. I was fine with this, but I had been looking forward to learning more about my organization. I had shaved, washed my hair, and even worn my nice tie. But alas, I had no one to meet.
The next day I did have a counterpart, but it’s not my official counterpart. See, here’s the lowdown. I am working in Baurzhan Momush Uly for the Ecological Center. But really, I’m working for them, the schools, a nearby nature preserve, a business center, and everyone else that is in around. So, my counterpart from this week was from the nature preserve, but technically my counterpart is from the ecological association. She was helpful in telling me about the site and her organization, but I still have so much to learn at site next week. I feel that this was a good introduction, but I am still not sure at all what is going on.
Next week will be fun though! All 20 of us spread out across the Kazakh countryside by train, bus, and taxi. I’m taking a seven hour train ride tomorrow night, and I will end up in my town Sunday morning. I will spend the next week meeting all the important people, seeing my office, seeing various projects, (probably) teaching random English lessons, and struggling while everyone around me speaks to me in Kazakh and I speak back in broken Russian. But I think I’ll have a much better idea of what I will be expected to do, what I can actually do, and where I will be figuring it all out. I also get to meet two or three potential host families and decide between them. Maybe that could be a new reality TV show of some sort.
Overall, this was a good week. A busy week. Somewhat informative. Other highlights which I don’t have time to write about right now include reading more books, celebrating Christina’s birthday, receiving mail and packages, and amazingly fun bonding experiences with the other PCTs during the van rides to and from the conference.