December 23, 2008

Site Announcement -or- "You live here, is good."

Before training I tried to do as much research about Azerbaijan as I could...
not much info about the country is out there(in English anyhow). After seeing
how the summer high temps could regularly reach 40+ I knew I wanted to be in
the northern mountains where it was cooler. But thinking on the job was
more difficult. CED here works in 5 major areas; NGOs, MicroFinance, Banks,
Agriculture & Government. Ag & banks didnt interest me. MicroFinance seemed
very interesting particularly as the originator of the concept just got the
Nobel last year. NGOs are a potluck, some have interesting missions & are
effective some don't/aren't. Government is the newest area for CED and has
only had a few volunteers thusfar. Most havent fully finished their service
for a variety of reasons. Though this doesnt necessarily speek to the the
position as the same is true of most areas of Peace Corps. Family
emergencies, health issues, better offers, etc. come up all the time. But
what the government job does lack is a clear definition. Volunteers who
get into this area generally have great independence in finding projects
and work to do. After reading the blog "Ash in Lankeran" I knew this was
what I want to do. The freedom and need to use one's entreprenuerial spirit
was extremly appealing....doesnt hurt that it also fits into my interest to
work in internetional law, business or diplomacy as the next path in life.

So, the same day as giving the presentation and taking the LPI I had a
meeting with the CED director about where I might be placed. Like the
placement process in applying for PC the applicant/trainee doesnt have much
say in the matter. Issues include the needs and job description of the
host organization (the organization which the Volunteer ostensibly works
for/with) and the availability of host families(some families wont take
men/women, no old folk or no youngins, no vegetarians, whatever), the
Volunteers health condition and availability of care, etc.
All these needs take precedence over the desires of the prospective
Volunteer. This being said they say they will try to accomodate ones
desires as much as possible and a number of us have the same or similar
Had the meeting. Told him exactly what I wanted, why I wanted it, and why
I thought I was qualified for the job and to my surprise the answer was
basically "OK".
Two weeks later all the CED and YD trainees(about 30 of us, no one's
been ASed or ETed yet, a PC Azerbaijan record!) all met in Sumgayit and
after a day of seminars, presentations, speeches and other official
tension builders they unfurled a big map and started announcing cities and
calling names. We walked up, got an informational envelope, and stuck
a pin in the map.

From December 11th I'll be going to the northern mountian city of Quba
working with the Quba/Xachmas Regional Branch of the Ministry of Economic
Development. Ya'll can Wiki search it as well as I can tell ya but Quba is
in the north is a medium large city or AZ about the same size and population
as River Falls, the city where I went to Uni.
Nestled at the feet of the Caucuses Mountains just south of the border with
Russia(Dagestan and Chechnya) and east of Georgia, its a temperate
zone like Wisconsin wich is warm in the summer and gets lots of snow in the
winter. It has Azerbaijan's largest(only) major Jewish community, the Region
is home to the town of the Xinalug people who have their own language and who
live in mountainside houses where on persons front garden is the next guys
roof. It has some parks, a nice shopping center, a 2.5-4hr ride from Baku,
skiing and hiking make it fairly popular with tourists.
My job description includes -

Misplaced the papers, get back to ya on this.

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