The placement suspense came to an end on the evening of the Martin Luther King holiday, when I received the Peace Corps package, replete with booklets, forms, and—most importantly—my placement details. I will be serving for 27 months in Armenia, leaving in late May after a two-day staging (orientation) in Philadelphia.
I couldn't be more pleased. Armenia is located in a fascinating part of the world, one I seem to have bypassed in travels to Western Europe, South Asia, and China. Boasting a rich historical and cultural history, it presents a special attraction to me as a teacher and musician—not to mention a special challenge in learning a new language with a unique alphabet.
A mountainous country, Armenia shares a northern border with Georgia (and after 24 years of teaching in the U.S. at Georgia Southern University, I'm afraid I've already worn out my “Georgia On My Mind” joke). Additionally, it shares borders with Turkey, Azerbaijan, and—to the south—Iran.
As I struggle to learn some basic conversational Armenian phrases, I'm making contact with the A-19 group on Facebook, as well as compiling a 30+ item list of things that need to be accomplished— pedagogically, professionally, domestically, and legally—before I leave.
Oh, and did I mention that—through the chaos—I‘m probably having more fun during this final semester of university teaching and performing than at any other time in my career? Perhaps it’s due to the particular group of young and older students I’m working with this term, or possibly the graciousness of my friends, colleagues and audiences, as they share in this impending adventure. Or—more prosaically—maybe it's just the grateful realization that the proverbial “light at the end of the tunnel” doesn’t appear to be an oncoming train...