satisfying your needs and a fine cultural moment

First of all, let’s satisfy this need right now.  I know you’re all waiting for shriveled wet puppy pictures similar to those of the departed/possibly-eaten Sanity.

So, there’s that.

Now you’re probably wondering, when I’m not eating Taco Maco, craving Mexican food, plotting to intercept huge shipments of Mexican food things on their way to anywhere, or thinking about how much I NEED MEXICAN FOOD, what do I actually do in Armenia?  Well, I’ll tell you by telling you this:

Earlier this week some Armenian teens, a guy from work, and I crammed into a Lada Niva and drove to some villages near Lake Sevan.  Thanks to prearrangements from PCV’s living in those villages, our Armenian teens talked to other Armenian teens about HIV/AIDS.

The brave little bunch trusting each other during a team-building exercise. (I can't resist mentioning how much the boy's posture, second from the last, brings to mind Junior from "Disney's The Jungle Book".)

Our Stepanavan teens are a brave little bunch, willing to stand in front of their peers and talk about some very sensitive topics (condoms, abstinence, saying no to drugs, discrimination) which is difficult for any teenager but, as I’ve already said, can be really difficult in a world where teenage sexuality is pretty much completely underground.
I am continually impressed by these kids, their initiative, their patriotism, their humor and their hope.

During our trips out to villages, when we aren’t teaching forums on HIV/AIDS, we are playing a new favorite game of mine, Durak, in which I am fairly consitently given that label (which means stupid), or we are playing ERS which I taught them only to dominate the game thoroughly.

On this trip however, things evolved into a particular cultural frenzy. Let me explain.  I am in the kitchen with another PCV and two of our teenagers.  I decided to make chocolate chip cookies, and the kids were eager to see if a real live man could actually prepare something edible.  So, I am mixing butter and sugar and cutting chocolate bars into bits and sounding out the words, “Chak-a-let ch-eep koo-kee-z”.  They want to know exactly what I’m doing.  Having just watched Julie & Julia, I couldn’t resist the opportunity.  In my very best Armenian, and using my very best Julia Child voice, I began,

“AraCHEEN du petk e takaNAL kaRAke.”  I keep it up instructing them not to be AFRAID of the chocolate bar but to simply give it a solid whack.  “Never apoligize!” I tell them repeatedly.  And so on, until the teenagers were giggling reservedly at the joke they were missing and the other volunteer was heartily guffawing.

So there you have it.  What is my work here in Armenia?  Among other things, it is impersonating Julia Child in Armenian.


  1. This made me laugh out loud. I’m gonna imitate Julia next time I make Chak-a-let ch-eep koo-kee-z for sure. Miss!

  2. I am with Kristin–I laughed hysterically while reading this, and could picture you PERFECTLY imitating Julia. Brilliant!

  3. Darryn

    Hey, great writing – I’ve enjoyed reading some of the archives. I’m heading out to Armenia with the next PC group at the end of may. I was hoping I could shoot you an email with a few of the millions of questions I have, possibility? Mine is glenn.darryn at gmail, thanks.

  4. […] into the old van with a guy from my office and seven kids from six different villages.  These are kids I’ve talked about before, kids who are brave enough to talk to their peers about […]

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