Six months from today my life will forever change. I will no longer live in America. I will no longer take midnight trips to Walmart. I will no longer go to Troy football games. I will no longer be a college student. The list goes on and on. For, in six months, I will move almost halfway across the world to Armenia, a country situated in between Iran, Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Georgia.
Two years ago I had the pleasure of being able to visit Armenia and explore almost the entire country in two weeks. I was able to wander around Yerevan, see the earthquake ruins in Gyumri, visit the Holy City, admire a piece of the True Cross and Holy Lance (Spear of Destiny), taste compote, watch lavash being made, and witness many more sights and tastes. I fell in love with the country and the language (despite not being able to understand anything besides barev).
In February, Peace Corps released their volunteer openings for Spring 2018. These openings included two different positions in Armenia, TEFL Volunteer and Community Volunteer. By February 5, I had my application completed and submitted it. I heard back from Peace Corps in mid-March requesting an interview for the position of TEFL Volunteer in Armenia. I spent the following week prepping for my interview. When my interview time came, I was incredibly nervous. When my video feed for the interview would not load and technical issues kept popping up, my anxiety grew. After thirty minutes of technical difficulties, my interviewer requested we shift to a phone interview. The technical issues left me frazzled, so I felt as if my interview was not up to par. I was a nervous wreck until April 29 when I finally received my invitation to volunteer. All of my stressing and hard work had paid off. My TEFL certification and two summers of teaching in Europe gave me the experience I needed.
The most stressful part of the Peace Corps process was not anxiously awaiting to see if I received an invitation to serve, it was rather what came after. I received the invite April 29, a Saturday, and left the country May 1, Monday morning for 3.5 months. The part that stressed me out? I had basically a million different medical work tasks I had to complete within 60 days of accepting my invitation. So, I had my dad run around Chattanooga trying to find my eyeglass and knee doctor forms I needed. I, on the other hand, had to email American Village (camp in France I was working at) head office to request to be able to take off work to see the doctors. Luckily one of the head office workers was American and understood the importance of Peace Corps and granted my leave. My first camp director up in northern France was able to call the many doctors to get me an appointment and then was able to come and translate for me. I had to travel to St. Hilaire, about 10 miles from camp, to have a full body medical exam and blood work done. As a side note, Cereal, my camp director, forgot to tell me not to eat before my blood tests, so I ate breakfast before. Pretty sure my results were skewed. When I transferred to the camp site below Lyon, I had to go back to the doctor’s and then to the dentist in Lyon for more medical work. Luckily, I was able to complete all the medical tasks before the 60 day period was up. Although, I will more than likely have to redo a few as some results were in French, not English.
Now that my medical task are done, my background check complete, and my passport (I will be given a diplomatic passport) information received, I can now focus on my
excitement to be apart of this amazing opportunity and my packing. I have already begun many lists of things I need to acquire before departure, winter clothing being at the top (as it does not get exceptionally cold in either Tennessee or Alabama). Moreover, since I will be teaching English, I have an ongoing list of all the supplies I need to bring for my classroom (including loads of sticky tack, a classroom planner, and a map of America).
I am a ball of excited anxiousness as I await the next chapter of my life. I cannot wait to learn a second language (Armenian) and be able to communicate in it. I cannot wait to meet like-minded people I will serve with (also one cool guy I already know who will serve, shout out to Trevor). I cannot wait to explore hidden secrets in Armenia. I cannot wait to meet my host family. I cannot wait to attend church with my host family in the world’s first Christian country. I cannot wait to experience a proper winter. I cannot wait to wander around the Caucasus Region. I cannot wait to help improve lives whether it be through working with my local community or educating the next generation. March 18 will be a day I will never forget, the day I catch my plane to move halfway across the world, to take the big step and move out of America, to change and shape lives. Armenia, be ready.