Monday, July 27, 2009


Zdraveytey, everyone!

I'm at my permanent site finally and I have a solid piece of internet! No wifi, sadly, but I can certainly use it from anywhere in my living room. I have also set up a Skype account and you can chat with me whenever i'm awake and online. My screen name is [redacted in case random people find me] and I'll be on as often as I can.

Now before I go into some announcements, I'd like to address a few questions that arose from the last post. Firstly: In case you didn't read the comments, the field that we built the football field on is very slanted. It is slanted in the direction of one of the corners of the field. This means that one team has a very big advantage over the others. Doesn't matter though because the town has a freaking football field :)

As for the other outstanding thing... Here's what we're swearing:

I, [state your name], do solemnly swear or affirm that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, domestic and foreign, that I take this obligation freely and without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and that I will well and faithfully discharge my duties in the Peace Corps by working with the people of [the host country] as partners in friendship and in peace.

That's the general gist...

The entire ceremony was about one and a half hours long. We got a speech from our country director then from a representative of the Embassy and then a representative from the government had a speech. After that, all 62 of us swore in using that above speech. Or some variation of it. I can't find the original script of what we did... Please don't fire me, Leslie. To end the ceremony Jared and Nat had two exceptional speeches in Bulgarian and English. I'll have to post those sometime. After the ceremony we had a nice little lunch of american things... I said good-bye to my host mom. She cried. I cried. She left. I cried some more. Then I started to punch a wall all manly like so it looked like I was crying because my hand hurt and not that my host mother was leaving me :'(

Buuuuuut... Pretend you didn't read that...

Final announcement: The public and private galleries got an update as well. A bunch of new pictures. If you want to look at the private pictures I have, then email me and you know the drill.

This is the Peace Corps. I swear it is.



To the right of the blog I put up two links. The first is to my public photos. The second is to Valerie's blog. She linked to mine so I figured why the hell not, right?

Have fun

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

My last week

Zdraveytey, Everyone!

Sorry about the super long delay in updating my blog. As it turns out, the last week has been one of the busiest I’ve had in a long time. Essentially this was finals week and our projects were due, not to mention our final exams.

Let’s start with the exam because it’s shorter to explain. During each volunteer’s training period they undertake two Language Proficiency Interviews (LPI). The first time they take around the halfway point, it’s really more of a warm up for the real thing with lower expectations and easier questions like what you eat for breakfast and perhaps your daily schedule. The second time they bring in the real thing. They’ll ask you questions based on what you used to do in your hometown, they’ll ask what you will do at your permanent site and the bar they set is significantly higher making much more difficult to prepare for the questions. My interviewer said that she was going to be asking questions such that the memorized answers that I made for the standard questions would be useless. If you failed the LPI, you were given one more chance six months from that date. I think I did pretty well even though it feels like I did minimal studying. Which is probably true. And by probably I mean very. And by very I could mean totally…

Now each training group (there’s one in several different towns in my region) is to arrange and perform a final community project. Some groups painted bus stops. Some groups painted walls. Our group built a freaking soccer field. To be fair, most of the work was done by the community but that was the point of the project. We were to get the community members involved in every step of the process. The idea we had was to get the children, for whom the field was meant for, to help as much as possible resulting in them having a stronger emotional connection and thus a less likely chance of marring the field… or stealing the goal nets. The field, however, was a huge problem. It was covered in weeds that the most dangerous lawn mower I have ever seen could not handle. That’s why the three of us took to the field with the rusty tools that the mayor’s office provided. It was a great time. We were chopping weeds, turning over the dirt so the chalk had somewhere to go that wouldn’t blow away and picking up broken pieces of glass. I forgot to mention. This field is where the locals go to burn their trash. There was a lot of garbage in the corners of the field. Also, this was done in the middle of the day. In other words, we were tired as hell. The end result, however, was actually pretty impressive. The soccer field looks like something out of Thunderdome or a terrible fantasy setting with small tree stumps growing out of a single region of the field, burn marks all over the place where the piles of grass and garbage were incinerated, and it was on a hill. We placed a soccer field on the side of a slope. It turned out really well. That Saturday we held a bunch of games for the kids where they played each other. Then we went to the local store and got them all ice cream. It was a good time.

So that’s how I spent my last week. Today, however, I don’t have anything to do so I’m just sitting in my room writing a blog post that will be posted whenever I find a wifi hub. This Friday is my swearing in and by Saturday afternoon I'll be at my own apartment at my permanent site. I'm gonna sleep real well.

This is the Peace Corps and we can play soccer anywhere we want, dammit.


Saturday, July 11, 2009


Zdraveytey again! I have a treat for you all today but first I’d like to begin with a little explanation of what I’m trying to do.

When anyone tells a story, there is a need to tell the events that surround the story. Usually this includes phrases such as, “So there was this time when I was at this place and…” or “Did ever mention that…” and these phrases are followed up by the a short hint of story and then the context. In general, context is good but sometimes it tends to be long-winded and completely irrelevant to the story. In fact the story can be summed up in about one or two lines. Take the entire Harry Potter series, for instance. As a summary, we can say “Harry and his friends go to school and kill the Dark Lord”. Obviously I’m not giving the entire series enough justice but the idea is there. Sometimes, though, one or two sentences are all you need to tell a really good story. The following lines are the experiences of me and a few of my friends taken in and placed into one or two sentences. Each is done in the 1st person and a few can be summed up by something said during the event. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I have enjoyed collecting them. I’ve added a comment in parentheses to help you understand a couple of them. Let’s begin with mine:

1) I’ve stared down a chicken while squatting on a toilet.

2) I’ve received chocolate from a Mahmoud Achmandinejad lookalike

3) I’ve toasted to the death of communism.


I once watched my host dad shave his chest and belly in the living room while his son played on the ground in his shavings.


1) I quit smoking because a sixth grader lit up beside me.
2) My host brother wants to be me so much that he came to dinner with my toothbrush in his mouth.


I’ve ran for my life from packs of dogs - more than once.


1) I killed a chicken and ate some bees in the same day.
2) One dark night, I was led home by the hand by a six-year old girl.


I think my neighbor is the ghost of the lady who died across the hall.


I once received a love letter that said, “Jesse sexy. Kiss kiss. Sorry brothers.”


My host mom wouldn’t let me leave my house because my hair was wet and trapped me on my porch to dry my hair.


“My vagina doesn’t smell- I don’t need a douche” (the word pronounced like douche means ‘shower’)

Anna T:

My host mom invites boys over for dinner for me to marry. We argued for two hours over and it is still an issue.


At a school, I once pulled the squatter toilet flush lever too hard and all of my shit went all over the stall of the bathroom.


That’s all I have for now but I plan on collecting more and using them for another blog post in the future. To clarify, each of these stories came from the last 8-9 weeks that we’ve been here and I was only able to ask a small fraction of the 62 of us. I didn’t get a chance to ask a few. Some of the trainees couldn’t think of a story immediately. Some claimed that they had no stories at all. If any of these trainees are reading this blog, you have stories. I can assure you that you do. The easiest thing to do is to picture the things you have done in Bulgaria that you would never have done otherwise and please send them to me or tell me the next time we meet up.

This is the Peace Corps and it regrettably cannot be summarized into a sound bite.


Friday, July 3, 2009

You guys are terrible

So from your resounding silence, I've decided to let you look at some of the pictures on the open gallery. I can't show you all of them due to security reasons but I will put one up every few weeks or so. There are also some pictures which can never be shown to you guys because of the possible risks that they might entail.

You can find the pictures at

I'm still leaving up the rest of the pictures on the other account on the chance that you will want to look at all of them. Just email me and you can see the rest of the 400+ photos.

This is the Peace Corps so you may need to make some inconvenient concessions. (see what I did there? I turned it around to include you guys.)