Saturday, February 26, 2011

The journey begins!

It's finally real! I'm back home in Montana, fretting over the task of fitting my life for 27 months into 2 suitcases, saying goodbyes, and taking care of last minute logistics. I leave for Kazakhstan in 11 days, and it seems like there aren't enough hours in the day to finish everything I need to get done! I'm caught up in a bittersweet mix of anxiety and excitement, but mostly I'm intensely curious about what my life will be like in Kaz. I know that many of you, my close friends and family, share my curiosity, which is why I'm writing a blog!

I've given my blog the title "river teeth" because of a book recommended by a good friend from FLBC. In the introduction to River Teeth by David James Duncan, the author explains that when a conifer falls into a river, the majority of the tree disintegrates very quickly in the rushing water. What remains after the tree is reduced to pulp, however, are hard, oddly shaped pieces of wood that once formed the joints between the living tree's trunk and branches. Duncan dubbed these immortal pieces of wood "river teeth". If you run with his metaphor, you'll understand that we are the trees and the river represents the sweeping current of time. One day, many of our memories will fade and the details will blur, but there will be a few memories and stories that will never completely disintegrate. These are our river teeth.

I want this blog to be a forum where I can share my would-be river teeth with all of you; not just my day-to-day activities (although I'm sure I'll write about those, too!), but the really powerful events and moments that I'll experience in Kazakhstan. With any luck, I'll be able to update this blog every month, if not more.

I'll be leaving for staging in Washington D.C. on March 7th, and the other "Kaz 23" volunteers and I head overseas on the 9th, when we'll start PST (pre-service training) in Almaty. Almaty is the biggest city in Kazakhstan and is located in the south-eastern corner of the country. There's between 30-40 other volunteers in my training class, and for the next 10 1/2 weeks we'll be busy getting to know each other, starting to learn either Russian or Kazakh, and bonding with our host families in Almaty. I'll write again when I arrive in Kazakhstan and let you all know how things are shaping up! Thank you for your continued love and support as I start this journey!