19 October 2008
The first week and a half here in M_____. My cluster called it Mud____. It rained almost every day, and we were the trudge sludgers. It was obscene the amount of mud on our boots every day. Sara and Josh live up Cow Shit Lane. I live down Muddy Brick Lane. Marina lives in the Mafia mansion. I really enjoy the personalities in my small language cluster. Polad is our LCF (Language Culture Facilitator). He can be a bit goofy at times, but he normally means well. The language gap can be quite funny. We’ll make a snarky comment in class, and it’ll just go over his head. Then again he surprises us by the English he does catch, and his English is far better than any of our Azerbaijani.
I guess describing my cluster I list by age. Marina is the eldest, but you would never know by looking at her. She is my “cousin.” Hailing from California, she is fiercely independent and opinionated, and I adore her for these qualities. She has traveled extensively and worked for community development in Sri Lanka. We walk to school together almost every day. I have so much respect for this woman. She rocks my socks.
Sara is the next personality to introduce. She is our statuesque blond beauty in the group. This New Jersey girl is made of far stronger metal than I am. Her travels have brought her to China, Tibet, and Ireland. I love just being around her and listening to her stories. Sara’s serene exterior is a lovely façade. She is so lively under it all, driven by some unseen force.
Here in M____/Azerbaijan, these are my girls. I cannot express how much esteem I have for these vivacious women. This is my primary support network, plus my host mom loves to feed them.
Jaqclyn is the North Carolina girl who always has a smile and sardonic comment ready to go. She lives the furthest away from our school. Her ability to weave a story is fascinating.
Josh is the sole male in our cluster: our protector (please note sarcasm). He rounds up our group with his dry wit and sometimes his absolute goofiness. I definitely appreciate his tolerance for dealing with all these women and escorting us places in this male dominated society. Sometimes it just feels safer to have one guy mixed in the group. Josh’s host family lives on a small farm. There is goat business and cow business. He always has great stories about his family. Josh is like a local celebrity around here. Everywhere we go; we hear “Josh,” “George,” “Jones,” and “Jafar.” The locals haven’t quite gotten his name down, but they try.
I guess I can say the same for my name. I am called, “Amy,” “Emma,” and “Emily.”