Tuesday, March 30, 2010
The View from Bishkek
Above: primetime on local channel 12 and other scenes from Peace Corps training on the outskirts of Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, where I've arrived to begin 26 months of service as an English instructor.
But for the howls of wild dogs traversing a nearby sculpture garden said to depict the Epic of Manas, the constant sunshine and biting cold here on the training compound remind me of Colorado’s Front Range. Breakfasts feature onion crepes and a thick, sour milk that I find delicious, while the mutton soup at dinner leaves a mean aftertaste.
After crash courses on Kyrgyz and safety protocols and a barrage of vaccinations, 70 trainees of K-18 (the latest wave of Peace Corps volunteers assigned to Kyrgyzstan since 1993) are to meet their host families this week in a ceremony marked by fresh flowers and speeches from local officials.
Key to language learning for the trainee is memorization of the Cyrillic alphabet, which makes the reading of grammar textbooks and the adoption of vocabulary doubly difficult. Still, the uniformity of the Kyrgyz language, which lacks articles and the myriad tenses of English, makes the going easier.