Greetings. I hope this post finds you all having a delightful summer, full of watermelon and superhero blockbusters and trips to the beach. Or at least trips to places with air-conditioning.
My summer finds me working at my school's summer camp from 9 AM to 2 PM every week day. It's interesting. I usually just help with the games and activities in the morning. Sometimes we go on 'excursions' – one time it was the river, another it was to get a tour of the agro firm in the village. After lunch, the kids split up into groups and I have a small music club. Two days a week, I have tutoring. And we're also starting an English/film club, which takes up another hour and a half two days a week. So that's what my life is like!
I also celebrated my 23rd birthday last week. It was pretty quiet, about as quiet as last year's, when I had to make my own birthday dinner and then took my sister and her fiancé to a movie that they didn't even like! It's tradition to sing to the birthday person when they walk into school, so that happened. Another tradition – people come up to you and wish you good things for the year. Lots of mine were wishes for health (because I've been fighting a nasty cough) and a boyfriend. I hope there were some wishes that I'd understand Russian better, but if there were . . . I didn't understand them. There's the rub, I suppose.
Because of my birthday, I've gotten some excellent packages and cards recently! I thank everyone whole-heartedly for them! It's almost like I haven't even left America, because I've got Legos, and pancake mix with chocolate chips, and Jane Austen comic books, and a burgeoning film collection which includes chick flicks, a Disney movie, and a Colin Firth movie. And, really, isn't that how I spent my free time back at home anyways? So thank you all! It's a little bit of home. :)
I also got a fabulous package from my friend Emily, who now resides in Zhezkizgan in the Karaganda Oblast. In addition to a letter, it had a mix cd of happy songs (tamasha tunes!) and a Disney princess photo album with some photos of our group. It really made my weekend, especially after my plans to go into Astana and see some friends to celebrate my birthday got canceled. The photo album is wonderful, because it's one of those self-adhesive ones, like the albums all my parents' photos from the '70s are in.
I went to my school's graduation ceremony this weekend. It was the usual – speeches, a slideshow of the graduates, a lot of songs, even a dance or two. But my story is about the two or three seconds before the slideshow, when the lights went pitch-black but before the slideshow screen lit up. The lights were out for only two, maybe three at the most, seconds, but it was enough for a whole trainload of thoughts to rattle through my head. Granted, I have not been in that many frightening situation – the Alien Encounter ride at Disneyland when I was seven being my most horrific experience – but there's something slightly terrifying about being in the complete dark in a roomful of people who do not speak your language.
What if a fire erupted? I can't even remember the word for 'fire,' and I can only follow basic 'right-left' directions, so I would most likely get trampled in that situation. What if there a coup of some sort? A zombie invasion? How would I get to the underground tunnel, which I know must exist if there are zombies involved, in order to race to freedom if I couldn't ask anyone where it was? So many 'what ifs' for only three seconds. I blame my mother for instilling this type of doom-tastic thinking in me. Beyond that, I think this is just what happens when you're in another country and can barely understand anything. Your mind goes to far-out places and you just have to roll with it.
Not much else has happened to me lately, but I did watch Eat Pray Love last weekend. Decent movie, although I spent the whole film thinking to myself, "Why does everyone she runs into speak English?" Not sure it's an entirely accurate portrayal of international travel. However, there was an idea that stuck with me and I considered very apropos. When Julia Roberts's character travels to India, she is told that it's okay to miss people, but to turn that negative energy into positive energy by, when she finds herself missing them, sending all her love and good thoughts their way. I like that concept. And you should know that I sit here, in my tiny village, sending all my love to you.