December 18, 2004: Headlines: COS - Kyrgyzstan: Blogs - Kyrgyzstan: Marriage: Personal Web Site: Rhonda Fern in Kyrgyzstan

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Kyrgyzstan: Peace Corps Kyrgyzstan : The Peace Corps in Kyrgyzstan: December 18, 2004: Headlines: COS - Kyrgyzstan: Blogs - Kyrgyzstan: Marriage: Personal Web Site: Rhonda Fern in Kyrgyzstan

By Admin1 (admin) ( - on Sunday, January 16, 2005 - 2:04 pm: Edit Post

Rhonda Fern in Kyrgyzstan

 Rhonda Fern in Kyrgyzstan

Rhonda Fern in Kyrgyzstan

Unwanted Attention

I am a target for unwanted attention here in Kyrgyzstan. Peace Corps actually warned us that this would happen even before we left Philadelphia way back in September, but during training I was almost always with either other volunteers or with my host family, so it was rare that anyone would say anything to me. Now that I’m living in Karakol, however, it has all changed. Everyday I walk about 30 minutes to work in the morning and then back home in the late afternoon, and it is an unusual day when no one says anything nor makes clicking noises at me when I walk by. And now, some of the male neighbors like to sit outside my host family’s gate at night so when I come out of the main house to go to the other house, or go to the toilet, they can shout at me. I talked to my host sisters about it, and even they feel sorry for me…..oh well, I figure the only way to make it stop (at home anyways), is to get to know my neighbors so that I’m more of a friend instead of that strange American living next door, but it’s really hard to start a conversation with a large group of men sitting outside your gate shouting at you. Now this doesn’t happen every day, but it happens often enough to really bother me (>_<)** At least it’s not like when I was in Turkey and I was harassed by someone different about every five or ten minutes, here it’s more like a once a day kind of unwanted attention. I know I just have to get over it, but it’s frustrating when you are living in a new country, with new customs, a new way of life, and are trying to learn a new language – it’s like it all hits you at once and I have to learn to deal with not just unwanted attention, but a million other things.

Crime is a huge problem in Kyrgyzstan.
During training, all volunteers were warned that we, especially females, should not walk alone after dark. Most streets have no lighting whatsoever, so it’s hard to see people standing in the shadows, and often times there are large groups of drunk men wandering around just asking for trouble. It’s easy to see the results of crime on a city; all stores have bars on their windows, and if you go in, everything is stored away behind glass or behind the counter to prevent theft – even the department stores do this.

Even my host family and counterpart have strictly told me not to walk alone after dark, because it’s too dangerous for women. This means after I finish work at 3 PM I have one hour until I have to head home before it gets dark. I could stay later to hang out with other volunteers, but public transport ends at 5 PM and after that I have to take a taxi to get home. This is definitely new for me, because I never felt afraid in Japan, even if I was alone after dark in Tokyo, and in Spokane, sure I took care not to go walking around alone in the dark, but I never felt particularly afraid once the sun went down, nor felt anxious about getting home safely.

Rhonda Enters the Real World
Well, I am now an official Peace Corps Volunteer. It only took 11 weeks of intensive training and now they have thrown me to the wolves in Karakol to do the job I was sent here to do. So far, despite a few glitches, I’m feeling pretty good about things. About a week before swear-in, we had our language exams and I scored intermediate-middle for my new found Russian skills; not bad for only knowing how to say “yes” in Russian when I arrived here in September. We all moved out of our villages on December 1st, which was a snowy day, to Bishkek, and saying goodbye to our families was hard for most of us. I was definitely sad to say goodbye to my family, because they had truly treated me like a special daughter and had gone out of their way to make sure I was comfortable and felt at home. We swore-in on December 3rd and headed for our permanent sites on the 4th.

In Karakol, I have a new host family. In my new host family I have a host mother and three host sisters, all of whom seem very nice and friendly. I have my own room in the main house (most homes here have two buildings, the main house and then a smaller house which usually has a kitchen), but it is very small and I only have a curtain for a door. According to Peace Corps policy, we are suppose to have our own room with a lock on the door…..apparently, my door will be arriving on Sunday. In the mean time, their cat has taken many liberties to crawl under the curtain and attack my feet as well as anything else that moves.

Yesterday was my first day at work, and it was interesting indeed. I went to a meeting with several of the members of CBT (Community Based Tourism), and they wanted to know if I had any magic pills to fix all their problems, make them rich, and teach them English overnight. Geesh! I have only been in town for three days and have barely unpacked! Anyways, I told them I would need some time to settle in and learn more about CBT before I could start any serious work. And I was thinking I wouldn’t have anything to do over the winter….

A Spritual Moment

All that aside, I have been doing really well spiritually. I haven’t had the chance to go to church since I have been here, but I have been spending a lot of time reading my Bible, memorizing scripture, and just spending time with God. Right now I am working on Isaiah 52, which is the intro chapter to prophesies about the suffering Messiah. I’m hoping to eventually memorize most of the last 10 chapters of Isaiah, and large chunks of the Gospel of John. Maybe it’s crazy, but I have discovered that I really like memorizing scripture because it makes me think about what it really means for several days, instead of the two minutes I usually spend on a chapter. When I was working on Isaiah 55 (which I recently discovered another volunteer also memorized!), I remember the most impacting verse was “’For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways’ says the Lord, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways, higher than your ways and My thoughts higher than your thoughts.’” I know this is a fairly famous verse, but just meditating on it, God reminded me of how small I really was, and how I shouldn’t compare myself to others, because compared to God we are all like ants (thankfully, He loves us ants!), and from heaven the queen ant and the worker ant sure do look a lot alike. And since I’m on a roll, one of the verses I have really come to like from Isaiah 52 is “Shake yourself from the dust, arise and sit down…” I was just really encouraged because the whole chapter talks about how God will comfort His people, and that He knows that sometimes we are lying in the dust, but His desire for us is for us to “dust our shoulders off” and believe that He is there, even when we can’t see ourselves even standing yet. Phew! Ok, got a little philosophical there, but if anything, I hope it was encouraging for you.

When this story was posted in January 2005, this was on the front page of PCOL:

Coleman: Peace Corps mission and expansion Date: January 8 2005 No: 373 Coleman: Peace Corps mission and expansion
Senator Norm Coleman, Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee that oversees the Peace Corps, says in an op-ed, A chance to show the world America at its best: "Even as that worthy agency mobilizes a "Crisis Corps" of former Peace Corps volunteers to assist with tsunami relief, I believe an opportunity exists to rededicate ourselves to the mission of the Peace Corps and its expansion to touch more and more lives."
RPCVs active in new session of Congress Date: January 8 2005 No: 374 RPCVs active in new session of Congress
In the new session of Congress that begins this week, RPCV Congressman Tom Petri has a proposal to bolster Social Security, Sam Farr supported the objection to the Electoral College count, James Walsh has asked for a waiver to continue heading a powerful Appropriations subcommittee, Chris Shays will no longer be vice chairman of the Budget Committee, and Mike Honda spoke on the floor honoring late Congressman Robert Matsui.

January 8, 2005: This Week's Top Stories Date: January 8 2005 No: 367 January 8, 2005: This Week's Top Stories
Zambia RPCV Karla Berg interviews 1,374 people on Peace 7 Jan
Breaking Taboo, Mandela Says Son Died of AIDS 6 Jan
Dreadlocked PCV raises eyebrows in Africa 6 Jan
RPCV Jose Ravano directs CARE's efforts in Sri Lanka 6 Jan
Persuading Retiring Baby Boomers to Volunteer 6 Jan
Inventor of "Drown Proofing" retires 6 Jan
NPCA Membership approves Board Changes 5 Jan
Timothy Shriver announces "Rebuild Hope Fund" 5 Jan
More Water Bottles, Fewer Bullets 4 Jan
Poland RPCV Rebecca Parker runs Solterra Books 2 Jan
Peace Corps Fund plans event for September 30 Dec
RPCV Carmen Bailey recounts bout with cerebral malaria 28 Dec
more top stories...

RPCVs and Peace Corps provide aid  Date: January 4 2005 No: 366 Latest: RPCVs and Peace Corps provide aid
Peace Corps made an appeal last week to all Thailand RPCV's to consider serving again through the Crisis Corps and more than 30 RPCVs have responded so far. RPCVs: Read what an RPCV-led NGO is doing about the crisis an how one RPCV is headed for Sri Lanka to help a nation he grew to love. Question: Is Crisis Corps going to send RPCVs to India, Indonesia and nine other countries that need help?
The World's Broken Promise to our Children Date: December 24 2004 No: 345 The World's Broken Promise to our Children
Former Director Carol Bellamy, now head of Unicef, says that the appalling conditions endured today by half the world's children speak to a broken promise. Too many governments are doing worse than neglecting children -- they are making deliberate, informed choices that hurt children. Read her op-ed and Unicef's report on the State of the World's Children 2005.
Changing of the Guard Date: December 15 2004 No: 330 Changing of the Guard
With Lloyd Pierson's departure, Marie Wheat has been named acting Chief of Staff and Chief of Operations responsible for the day-to-day management of the Peace Corps. Although Wheat is not an RPCV and has limited overseas experience, in her two years at the agency she has come to be respected as someone with good political skills who listens and delegates authority and we wish her the best in her new position.
Our debt to Bill Moyers Our debt to Bill Moyers
Former Peace Corps Deputy Director Bill Moyers leaves PBS next week to begin writing his memoir of Lyndon Baines Johnson. Read what Moyers says about journalism under fire, the value of a free press, and the yearning for democracy. "We have got to nurture the spirit of independent journalism in this country," he warns, "or we'll not save capitalism from its own excesses, and we'll not save democracy from its own inertia."
RPCV safe after Terrorist Attack RPCV safe after Terrorist Attack
RPCV Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley, the U.S. consul general in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia survived Monday's attack on the consulate without injury. Five consular employees and four others were killed. Abercrombie-Winstanley, the first woman to hold the position, has been an outspoken advocate of rights for Arab women and has met with Saudi reformers despite efforts by Saudi leaders to block the discussions.
Is Gaddi Leaving? Is Gaddi Leaving?
Rumors are swirling that Peace Corps Director Vasquez may be leaving the administration. We think Director Vasquez has been doing a good job and if he decides to stay to the end of the administration, he could possibly have the same sort of impact as a Loret Ruppe Miller. If Vasquez has decided to leave, then Bob Taft, Peter McPherson, Chris Shays, or Jody Olsen would be good candidates to run the agency. Latest: For the record, Peace Corps has no comment on the rumors.
The Birth of the Peace Corps The Birth of the Peace Corps
UMBC's Shriver Center and the Maryland Returned Volunteers hosted Scott Stossel, biographer of Sargent Shriver, who spoke on the Birth of the Peace Corps. This is the second annual Peace Corps History series - last year's speaker was Peace Corps Director Jack Vaughn.

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Story Source: Personal Web Site

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Kyrgyzstan; Blogs - Kyrgyzstan; Marriage



By melissa anderson ( - on Tuesday, December 06, 2005 - 12:48 pm: Edit Post

Just to let you know i found this great place to make holiday cards. They are usually like $20 but free if you click on this link. you can design your own and pass them out to make just one someone smile. If your interested.

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