January 3, 2004 - William and Mary College: Carrie Dolive is currently working for the Peace Corps in Turkmenistan

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Turkmenistan: Peace Corps Turkmenistan : The Peace Corps in Turkmenistan: January 3, 2004 - William and Mary College: Carrie Dolive is currently working for the Peace Corps in Turkmenistan

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Carrie Dolive is currently working for the Peace Corps in Turkmenistan

Carrie Dolive is currently working for the Peace Corps in Turkmenistan

Carrie is currently working for the Peace Corps in Turkmenistan. Below is her current letter about her life and work in the former Soviet Republic. Carrie allowed us to post this letter on our site.


October 19th, 2003

It is the tail-end of the fifth week of pre-service training and we have been allowed brief access to the Peace Corps computers.

I have recently returned from a visit to my permanent site. Starting November 16th, I will live in the city of Balkanabat (formerly called Nebit Dag). Balkanabat is about 5 hours west of Ashgabat (the capital) and 2 hours east of the Caspian Sea. It is located right next to the mountains. In fact two blocks north of my house, the earth just shoots up. I'm looking forward to doing some hiking. In Balkanabat I'm going to be working at an AIDS Prevention Center. The SPID Center (as it's called in Russian) dispenses information not only on AIDS and other STDs, but also on numerous types of preventative medicine (i.e. the importance of vaccines for young children, the necessity of boiling drinking water and washing hands, etc.). The AIDS Center makes visits to schools, holds seminars for insitutestudents, dispenses brochures on various health topics, and registers the HIV statusof foreigners who live in the city. The first couple of months I'll be working there, I'llprobably just observe, but as my language improves, I'll do some presentations on my own and help to improve their brochures and teaching techniques. The Center also wants to take advantage of my language skills. Balkanabat is a rich oil town with a number of foreigners, some of whom don't speak Russian or Turkmen, and they would like to have some material for them in English. I will need Turkmen primarily for working at the AIDS Center, though a lot of my visit this week was conducted in Russian.

In Balkanabat I'll be living with a Turkmen family, in fact a very wealthy Turkmen family. They have a piano (I'm very happy about this.), satalite tv (my family made sure I knew which channel BBC World is on), an indoor kitchen, indoor flushable squat toilet, and a computer, which is in my room along with a bed. The set up is very different from how I live in my training site. I will live here with a father who works at an oil company and mother - both are 50 years old - and their three youngest children: son Toydurdy (24) and daughters Azatgul (22) and Jemile (12).

As I mentioned above, my training home stay is different than my permanent site. I live in the village of Herrikgala which is about 20 minutes outside of Ashgabat. My family lives a traditional lifestyle and they are actually fairly well off from other houses I"ve seen in the village. Facilities include a pit latrine, a kitchen with running water that is separate from the rest of the house, a banya which a water heater where I take my bucket baths (yeah, it's been over a month since I last took a shower), and an outdoor faucet where the dishes are washed. They also have satalite tv and a phone. I live with my host father Garyady, a construction manager, host mother Aynagozel, brother Maksat, his wife Mayagozel (both 27), and their daughters Horma (3) and Mahek (1), host sister Alma (21) who teaches at the local school and brother Marat (14).

Everyday I have language classes in Turkmen for three hours. My Turkmen is coming along. I'm certainly not bad at it, but I probably would be better if I had more practice speaking it outside of class. I end up speaking Russian with my host parents a lot simply for ease of communication. As I learn more Turkmen, I hope this will decrease. I also receive some technical instruction in the form of observing the doctors at the local clinic on their housecalls.

Probably one of the most noticeable differences between America and Turkmenistan is that here everything happens on the floor. Everyone eats, sleeps, entertains guests, etc. on the floor. No wonder this area is known for it's carpets. I'm looking forward to getting some Turkmen dresses made. They are much fuller and thus more comfortable for sitting than my fitted American skirts.

Meals here are very communal. Everyone eats out of the same dishes with their hands. Bread and tea are a part of every meal. I'm doing okay staying vegetarian. I can eat around the meat in soups and rice dishes. I do have to pay a lot of attention to what I eat though. I have to boil and filter all my drinking water and stay away from a lot of raw vegetables because they are often washed in unclean water. Fruits with thick skins are okay as are cooked foods, though the latter are usually heavy on the salt and oil. Needless to say, the food is hard to get used to and I don't know anyone whoh hasn't gotten sick at some point.

And now for the numbers: I have four more weeks left of training. Three will be spend in my training village, and the last week in Ashgabat. There are a total of 57 trainees in Turkmenistan. The oldest is 70 years old and the youngest 21. We are a young group though; I believe the average age is 25. For training we are located in 10 villages in the Ashgabat area. There are 3 other trainees in my village of Herrikgala. There are two types of volunteers in T-stan: those who teach English and those who teach health. But as the Peace Corps tells us, "first and foremost, we are all community development workers."

Turkmenistan is a difficult place to live and there have been times when I have felt overwhelmed, but I am definitely enjoying being here. I have met a lot of interesting people both in Turkmenistan and in the Peace Corps. To paraphrase what another trainee has said: "it's worth it to be here because everyday something new happens and it's always what you least expect."

Thanks to all who have sent me letters. I greatly appreciate them. They are my only link to the outside work and it really lifts me up to hear from home. (Mail seems to be taking 2-3 weeks to get to me, though my letters to the US probably take at least a month.)

My address:
PCT Caroline Dolive
US Peace Corps/Turkmenistan
P.O.Box 258, Krugozor
Central Post Office
Ashgabat, 744000

Stay in touch!

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Story Source: William and Mary College

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Turkmenistan



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