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News from Ashgabat

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  • chapinr75081
    This is a e-mail from our fellow NTPCA member Sharon Sugarek current serveing as PC director in Turkemenistan. Update from Ashgabat #10 October 2003 Well I
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 16, 2003
      This is a e-mail from our fellow NTPCA member Sharon Sugarek current
      serveing as PC director in Turkemenistan.

      Update from Ashgabat #10 October 2003
      Well I understand that Arnold Schwartzenagger is now Governor of
      California. Interesting! I get the BBC report on news in the US. It is
      always interesting to hear news from another perspective. However
      their coverage of hurricanes in the States is not too good. At some
      point during this summer, I was eagerly awaiting information on a
      hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico and their entire coverage was
      basically: "There is a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico and it is
      expected to hit the Texas coast sometime tomorrow". End of report!!!
      Now you and I know that the Texas coast is mighty long and many of us
      have friends and family scattered up and down the coast. So I was not
      real thrilled with the lack of detail on that particular report!

      Life here in Turkmenistan continues to be very challenging form a work
      perspective. Seems the government is changing the rules every day but
      neglects to tell us or to train their own people so there is a lot of
      confusion. One of the apparent remainders from the old Soviet system
      is to keep one's head low and never make a decision. No one ever got
      punished for doing nothing—but people do get punished for doing
      something. Very frustrating to an American or anypne else who is
      actually trying to do something. But we do the best we can.

      Since the last update 58 trainees have arrived here from the US and
      are now half way through their training program. One opted to go home
      after two weeks but everyone else is hanging in there. They all went
      to their permanent works sites Tuesday for a four day visit and will
      return to the capital for the last 4 weeks of training. We have made
      a number of improvements in the training program this year but there
      is still more to do— especially from an operational perspective. This
      group seems very down to earth and very mature especially considering
      that most of them are under 25 years old. I am looking forward to
      working with them.

      I made a personal commitment to visit all Volunteers at their work
      sites during the first year of their service and I have a few visits
      left to accomplish in the next few weeks. I visited a couple of
      Volunteers in nearby towns two weeks ago. I always enjoy that because
      I get to meet the school officials, teachers and students or the
      health care providers that PCVs work with. I see where they work and
      what they do. And I often get to visit their host families as well.
      That is the fun part of my job although I have to admit it is
      exhausting. And I almost always come back sick from a week out
      visiting PCVs. Guess I meet new germs too! Oh well, it is worth it!

      I also had the great pleasure to attend a wedding in a village about
      an hour from Ashgabat a couple of weeks ago. The host sister of a
      previous Volunteer was getting married and the family invited me to
      the Bride's party. Here the weddings last three days and consist of a
      Bride's Party, a Grooms' party and a wedding celebration party. The
      actual wedding ceremony is very short. It was quite fun for me and we
      had a visitor from headquarters visiting so we took her along too.
      Our guest really enjoyed the whole thing as well and we have been
      immortalized on videotape giving an elaborate toast and then dancing
      in honor of the bride and groom. All of the wedding festivities are
      videotaped and watched over and over again. In fact, if you go
      visiting, you may be shown the video of the latest family wedding.
      Interesting tradition. I did not take photos at the wedding but I
      heard today that I may get a copy of the videotape of the Bride's party.

      Had a funny thing happen yesterday. Picked up the phone at my house to
      call someone and had no dial tone. Now I had dial tone at 12:30 am
      that morning because some idiot called me then, the phone rang and
      woke me up. So I called the office on my cell phone and set the
      appropriate person on the task to find out what was happening. Six
      hours later, he calls—on the cell phone-- to tell me that the phone
      company is changing all of the phone numbers in my district and they
      will turn all the phones back on when they finish!! Sure enough about
      10:45 pm I get a call from my landlord telling me that the phone
      number in the house has been changed and he gives me the new one,
      which is one digit different from my previous number. Indicates how
      mystifying things can be when you don't know what is going on and the
      lack of customer service focus here. The good news is that the phones
      do work most of the time.

      Looks like I'll be taking a two-week vacation in Thailand in December
      (7-21st) so if anyone is in the neighborhood or wants to meet me
      there, let me know. I am looking forward to about 10 days on the
      beach and 3-4 days in Bangkok to shop, watch a movie at a movie
      theater and see the historic sites in Bangkok. I'm looking forward to
      the break. And the food in Thailand is wonderful so that will be great

      Can't think of any other important news today so I'll close and send
      this off. To all of you that I owe an email to, thanks for writing and
      I will answer you! I really enjoy hearing about what you are doing
      and what is going on at home.

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