December 16, 2003 - Personal Web Site: Hilltopper - a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Uzbekistan: Peace Corps Uzbekistan : The Peace Corps in Uzbekistan: December 16, 2003 - Personal Web Site: Hilltopper - a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan

By Admin1 (admin) ( - on Tuesday, December 16, 2003 - 10:55 am: Edit Post

Hilltopper - a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan

Hilltopper - a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan

2003-11-22 - 10:23 a.m.

On my return to Uzbekistan I feel that I have been enlightened- not really- but something I read last night did strike me as significant. It is easy to get caught up in comparing our modern American conveniences with the simplistic and labourious Uzbek methods, like washing dished by hand, using pit toilets, and investing in livestock instead of banks. Its this last example that I was impressed with last night. As I delved back into an LBJ biography, I was surprised to learn that on February 26, 1933 the state of Ohio issued legislation forbidding individuals from withdrawing more that 5 percent of their balance from local bank accounts. Of course, this was depression era rules trying to stave off any financial collapse or run on the banks, but it still existed- just the same as it exists in Uzbekistan today where banks refuse to give you large amounts of cash without asking why.

And so as I return from America, the best example the world has of a place where merit and effort are rewarded by financial independence and free expression, I try to remind myself that I am still in the process of a learning experience and that slow progression is also an opportunity for assessment and innovation.

With this internal advice on my conscience I prepare to face winter, and with it the extreme of Uzbek difficulties. So now there is nothing left to do but to re-enter the process. I'll update this journal as I get colder.

2002-11-20 - 3:16 p.m.

Miss me yet??? Well, this is my first trip out of site since November 3, and to my great surprise PC office now has free internet. Awesome!! First, my address will remain the same. Second, try calling if you dare, 011.998.272.31.355, probably will not work, but I have heard rumors that is does. Sending stuff is entirely your deal, but no cash and remember I will need stuff later when i begin a secondary project, yet undetermined, and will again call on family and friends. But anything American, like cassettes, videos, educational and movie, rubber bands, stapler (we have staples but no stapler, ha) mags, newspapers for our resource center, books, markers, pens, etc... Mom sent a penceil sharpener, of the sort that used to be bolted onto classroom walls, and it literally shocked the school. A lifetime supply of pencils to be sharpened came from locals, neighbors, teachers, etc... It is hilarious. Little things like a football, or golf ball, or baseball card, etc.. would make my students overjoyed. Pics of christmas, Thanksgiving, and New Year, as well as later of easter and such will help with my lectures of holidays.

Much to discuss... In late Oct., I met a man named Robert Rand, former editor for NPR. He interviewed me for a story on cotton to aire on All Things Considered sometime, he told me a few months and as part of a series on the show. keep your ears open and if he emails me I'll let you know. It's audio, so you can hear my voice, and hopefully the local officials will not be disappointed with my views, or maybe you will see me sooner than expected (PC okayed the interview).

It is Ramazan now and my family and counterpart awake at 4am, prepare breakfast, east before 5:30am, then fast until sundown. I do not. Rosa is "fast" in Uzbek, actually arabic i think. I also attened a mosque service with my counterpart in my mountain village of Xisarak. Most elderly men, I sat with my champon (robe) and dopi (hat) as the unheated room was home to thirty praying muslims. They were very kind to me. They meet every night during Ramazan at 7pm. I have only attened once, but I "open my stomach" every evening with "dates" or raisins, as tradition calls. I have been a guest for dinner often, and last week I was served a meal as the surrounding hosts just looked on, still observing their fast (It was only 4 pm). I felt a little odd eating all the food, but they insist and constantly offer what is on the table to the guest.

My school situation is moving along steadily and whenever I do not have class, students pack my room to talk or ask questions. Mikhal, a ninth graders with okay English approaches me everyday and says, "Hello, Mr. Kevin. I think the weather is very (insert weather condition) today." He's Willard Smith of Uz. And yet others invite me to their homes for dinner, and one parent gave me four apples yesterday on the street as I crossed her and her sons path in a local store. Currently, we are studying Thanksgiving, and the set of encyclopedias from 1992 that a past PCV was able to get for our room has proven very useful.

At home, I am doing what I call the Heidi Chase, which happens to be the name of the past Parkent volunteer. she lived with my family as well, and I am often compared to Heidi, by foods liked, language ability, school clubs organized, and friends visited. But my home is beautiful, set in the mountains which are now snow capped. My room is cold, but thermals and sleeping bag keep my nights toasty. Reading and writing are a bit of a problem because of the cold, so I do most of that at school. We eat seated at a knee high table, and underneath is a sandal, or warm coal pit like deal, where we hang our legs and feet. I reminds me of a trap door and the fam. hangs here until bedtime because it is the only warm place. I will not discuss bathing, becasue it happens so infrequently.

I went apple picking two weeks back, and my aim was a well received by my host grandparents, who own the orchard. Apples, peanuts, tomatoes, and potatoes are my primary meals, with various combinations of them. I do enjoy my coffee and perculator, although supplies are running low. Let me know your Christmas wishes. Take care.

2003-05-29 - 8:28 p.m.

The "Last Bell" rang May 24th at 5 Specialized School Parkent. I witnessed the first seventeen students of mine graduate, including my four best English speakers. We're going to need a good recruiting summer or next year could be a long one.

5 Specialized School Parkent held a ceremony in the school courtyard. The rugs were hung from ropes, the chairs and tables were arranged, and the sound system set up. The student body sat and faced the school door, observing Form 11A's and 11B's procession out of school for the last time. The graduates were handed roses and placed at the front of the audience. Then an hour performance of speeches, dances, and and a boxing skit, including Iron Sardar Tyson and Mirvali Lewis highlighted the afternoon. In typical Uzbek fashion, the electricity did not work, requiring the music performances to improvised and microphones to be abandoned. But, the day was typical of any graduation ceremony, with the excitement of what's to come and the thoughtfulness of memories. Placed at the front table with the faculty, I was also a little sentimental. My first school year in Uzbekistan is complete and my first set of students is moving on. Eleven A was my favorite group, mostly because their English was at a level where we could do things in class like have debates about the best "phase" of life, answer the question "what is love?," and discuss the importance of self-esteem. With this graduation, I lose Rustam, my best English speaker. Rustam just returned from Yerevan, Armenia, where he represented Uzbekistan in the International Olympiad for Russian. He speaks Russian, English, and Uzbek rather well for a 17 year-old, especially considering his native language is Kazakh. With 11A, I also lose Maxsuma, the most articulate and clever student I teach. Maxsuma is also the best English speaking girl in the school and it was her translation ability in class that kept debates even between boys and girls. Bekzod and Saidjon will be missed as well, especially because they have the most determination. Bekzod will attempt to enter Westminster Univeristy, a branch of which is in Tashkent. Saidjon is the eldest son of Kasimjon, my counterpart, and he is the student body president. Saidjon will attend the University of World Languages to study journalism. Finally I will miss Sabohat, perhaps the worst English speaker in my 11A class. Sabohat hopes to be an Uzbek Literature teacher, and the smile she brought to class everyday was as sweet as the honey her father sells to me at a discount price. I will miss both her smile and the honey.

I take it as a sure sign of success that I will miss these students. I assume my pride for them and admiration for their intellect and resilience means that I like the work I do. That makes the tough days here, with the petty inconveniences and periods of lonliness, worth it. Congrats 5SSP Class of 2003!

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Story Source: Personal Web Site

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Uzbekistan; Blog; PCVs in the Field - Uzbekistan



By dilfuza satimova ahmedovna ( on Monday, March 14, 2005 - 5:22 am: Edit Post

hi can i know the e-mail of wendy forbes worked in gurlen horezm uzbekistan in about 1998-1997

By Zarina Usmanova ( on Thursday, December 20, 2007 - 3:20 am: Edit Post

Hello. Can I know the e-mail address of Aaron Platt who worked in Hanabad, Andijan in the period of 1998-1999? I was the seventh grade at that time and he was my teacher. I would love to keep contact with him and tell him that i also became an English teacher due to his encouragement. I appreciate ur help :)

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