Voyage to the south with the German-mobile

So now to this:

This last week I was mainly occupied with one thing, a big trip to the south with the Goethe Institute, the DAAD and a representative from the German embassy. First things first (im the realest)  it started on a Sunday morning as I got out of the apartment of the other volunteers 30 minutes earlier since i was planning to go and have a quick meal at the Cantine across the Goethe Center, which was the meeting point. Little did i know that after i bought some juice and cookies while carrying my  heavy traveling backpack that the Cantine wouldn’t be open at 8:30 in the morning haha. So I opted for cookies and juice on the steps in front of the meeting point until the rest of the team showed up. So haha after dragging all the materials which we needed for the trip: Boxes of German books and materials, two banners and alot of info materials connected with the above-mentioned organizations, the van finally came since it was late 15 minutes. Then after packing it up and getting into the back of the van I got acquainted with the representative of the embassy and the DAAD , both very funny and friendly people, we finally hit the road! After a small talk with my contact person, I found out hat my task was mainly setting up and logistics, like counting the number of participants coming to our events and more.

On our way to our first stopYeregnazhorwe were driving on a street pretty parallel to Mount Ararat and it really is always an impressive sight. Then as we drove along the slopes of the slowly heightening landscape towards it, I realized that a little in front of me, a maximum of a dozen kilometers, was thee Turkish border , and I was like „woooaaaah“ haha.


Now after a few hourswe stopped at out first stop which was the small city called Yeregnahzor, there we stopped first at a small school and so i hopped out of the car and carried the banners and materials with the help of the guy from the embassy inside and set it up. We walked into a room filled with around 40 children, teenagers and teachers and so, after it was all ready, I snapped a few pictures and made my way to a chair in the back and watched as the rest of the team held their talks. After a very poor outcome from the „question round“ , most of the children and teenagers left and the only ones left over where the teachers so we all sat down around a small table and enjoyed some food. I had a coffee and some fruit. That little brunch was the first time I tried “ cornel kirschen “ *in German“ which are oval shaped small pieces of fruit which are very sour but taste lovely, the „gata“, a kin d of baked dessert , was also the best which ive eaten up until now. After we had realized that we had to get going, we got four bottles of Armenian wine as a present, which was very nice. After storing that into our already filled van, we walked around the school building up a hill to a faculty of a university focusing on the economy and business. There we did get greeted by the principal but no students haha, reason for that was that all the students came from the surrounding villages and the buses didn’t drive that often on a Sunday and since it was a pretty spontaneous announcement, sadly no one came haha. That didn’t stop us from looking around a bit and leaving the brought materials and school books there. I saw that the conference hall was renovated and equipped through the help of the American government and the efforts of the American peace corps stationed in Armenia so that was pretty cool:D

Well after having dropped that off, we dipped back to the car and left Yeregnazor and headed to our little temporary base camp, the small southern city of Kapan. So after around another three Hours of driving through the steps of Armenia and a last push of 45 minutes through high mountains and winding roads and a very sick stomach did we arrive at the small ex-soviet city of Kapan. It was already dark when we arrived, so we quickly went up and got our rooms. I was a bit jealous as we were in check in since my co-travelers had a „Diplomat Passport“ and an „Official passport“ and I only had a normal ass one haha. Anyways after we unpacked and settled down a bit we went downstairs to the small cafe/bar/restaurant next door and there we got some dinner. Me and Jacob (the guy from the embassy) both were eyeing a pizza and fries each and when we wanted to order that, the waitress looked at us with big eyes and after some clarification with the owner, we were assured that 1 Pizza would be enough for us both so we trusted him. The owner was wrong haha. The pizza was tiny so we ordered another one immediately and enjoyed very full bellys that evening. We had a very lovely dinner, very good food, lovely tea and good conversation.

Now to the next day, we had a pretty free first couple of hours since the only item on the plan was setting up and opening a new German corner in the local library. So we first we took a stroll through the city.Its main street is separated by a small river which is pretty cool. We walked for around 45  minutes and visited an old soviet swimming pool which wasn’t in order anymore but boy was it pretty. Then after walking back down, we went to the modern museum of art in Kapan. I wont lie, first when i heard that we are going too spend our time there I  was like omfg, haha i had like pictures of stupid and easy art in my mind but oh boy was i wrong!. The museum was in a pretty old and run down building but damn was it good. I really can’t describe it haha. Like I have been missing some artistic input and inspiration in my life recently but that did it. I was like fulfilled with ideasinspiration and thoughts about starting my second attempt at an art portfolio for university. I will probably put that into the header on my blog site so you all can maybe even see the process of how it comes to be. Of course the topic of it will be my time in Armenia and Armenian in general. Even though going to the museum was a crazy experience, it was a little sad. There where so many good paintings and rolled up canvases just getting covered with dust in a storage room and that really was a little heart breaking thinking about it. Ill try and change that by talking with my contact from the Embassy, he is in charge of cultural things and he has a budget, maybe we can renovate or at least get good storage equipment for the stowed away art.

After our little art high, we where invited to a small lunch at the place of the DAAD representative since Kapan was actually her birthplace, so we made our way over from the museum, a 10 minute walk to an old soviet housing complex and 7 flights later we where in a very snuggly , pretty and cozy apartment. Ive noticed , and i shouldn’t always be surprised anymore, but the houses always kinda look rundown, ugly and old from the outside but the apartments are always so well furnished and designed, its crazy haha. So there we met the mother of the Representative, ( whose really beautiful name ive forgot haha xD) who had even prepared some Jingalov haz ( bread filled with a handful of herbs and melted butter) which I tried for the first time, the cuisine in Armenia never lets down haha lets just say that. So she also dished out some homemade cognac to which I say: absolutely lovely; again. We talked for a while, and things took a turn when we kind of turned the topic over to the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan. And since Kapan is very very close to the border it also had its fair share of attacks, bombing raids and experiences (the map will show.), the mother talked about how it was during the warabout interesting hypothesis why the first coupe of bombing runs over the city always missed, how it was with children in this war zone. It really was a very intimate and trusting atmosphere in the room and ultimately I was very grateful to be able to hear her storys and thoughts!

So I should really keep these posts short haha. After the lovely lunch we went to the library with all the material and started setting it all up. During our efforts an either drunk or crazy man came up to us and wanted to talk about politics which was interesting. So it took around 2 hours to build it all up, of course no without any mishaps haha. Around 1 hour before the ceremony started, we had noticed that the huge cake, which got delivered to us by some local bakery was missing the logo of the Goethe Institute, which was a pretty big deal. After discussing how we should cope with the problem we opted for cutting out the logo from flyers wee brought and just pressing them into the cake, and thats what we did and no one complained:).



Now the pictures on the top show how our final result looked like:) including us improvising with the cake haha. So we opened up the „German corner“ and well I think it was a pretty good success. At the start there where children from all ages, many interested teachers, the town major and some people who actually don’t even have anything to do with teaching or learning German but who are willing for a pen relation, for example an older gentleman who introduced himself as an owner of a local puppet theater who wanted to maybe start a partnership with the Goethe centrum. While the start was pretty spectacular, after around 2 hours, coincidentally when most of the buffet was eaten up, the people slowly started to disperse and the left overs where just people who really where invested. So my team held their three presentations while I was sneaking around and taking pictures and it took such a long-time haha. But about 3 hours and many questions laterwe had finally closed the event and tiredly made out way out of the building. After that we enjoyed a lovely dinner where we had a bunch of laughs. And that ended Day 2

Now to third and final day, this was the day I was looking forward too the most since I heard that we would be basically going to the border of Iran. So we got into the car and drove off! We drove or about an hour or two and we got to the first stop, The city of Meghri in the very very south of the country. There we visited two schools which taught German and had a small brunch at the second with some of the teachers. Thenwe got into our van with some other teachers, which then transported us along the Armenian/Iraki border to the city of Agarak where we would have our main event. WE got out and of course the guys had to muscle up and carry all the stuff haha. But once at the entrance we already saw the small reception waiting for us, so we made our way there. We got greeted by a lovely traditionally dressed girl who had like a piece of bread , from which you had to rip a piece of out and stick it into a pile of salt, probably a local tradition , and after everyone had their turn we proceeded to go inside and set up.

Again, after the whole presentation and question phase, the crowd dispersed pretty quickly and we were left with teachers again so we went to the library which was in a room next to the hall and we had a lovely buffet, full of fruits, baked goods and other good stuff. I may have spilled juice and made a mess with the pomegranate haha. Now after talking about educational topics for a while finally decided that it was slowly time to go and before we left, the Employees of the school packed us like a bag full of fruits from the school garden. Pomegranates, grapes, apples, and other treats. Overall the pomegranates in that region are supposed to be the best in Armenian. Which is pretty impressive since Armenia is pretty well known for its pomegranates.Now after we had arrived back in Kapan, we had a dinner i wont forget in a while. WE went to this really big but empty restaurant just 3 minutes of foot walk away and it started off with a good laugh when we sat down and the waitress started to recommend and state things we should maybe get in Armenian and that goes on for a while before Dana (our Goethe Partner person and my boss) looks over to Jacob and is like so does it sound good? He just responds with. „Is there a menu?“ . Now it was much funnier then it is now when you all read it.So basically, we ordered a very good soup, some grilled vegetables, a salad and horovatz (the Armenian version of like, a BBQ and a shashlik) and boy did I eat lot. It was a massacre. Everyone’s plate was filled a bit with crumbs and maybe a bone or two,but mine, no, i had like a pile of bones haha , i probably ate 40% of all the food ordered. It tasted amazingill definitely try to go to that restaurant again. Now after some toasts to the important people in the trip and after a good conversation and dinner without driver Vahag we stumbled back home to stomach all the nutrition absorbed, well i did haha.

Now the next day we packed up again and set course for home. On the way we stopped in Goris to visit the owner of a pretty famous hotel who spoke pretty good German since he wanted to spread the German culture and education in his city, two local German teachers where also present. I was busy playing with the hella cute kitten , if the requests for the comments are so overwhelming, ill post a picture of her too (or him) But over all that was a pretty short wrap up of the trip to the south. I made lovely acquaintances and friends and had fun with each one of the team members. Its a trip I really didn’t expect to have this early and I just want to thank everyone <3

This was our Journey.

Insider jokes our little group had during the trip:

1. Meghri not knowing anything about Armenia, despite being Armenian.

2.Ordering exactly five pelmeni

3.Our driver Vahag doing anything just not to sit with us and eat and drink.
4. And plenty of more I probably cant  remember

Out and About

Alright yall,

So the second week has passed. During this week i continued teaching the students, doing my regular 7th and 9th graders while also substituting or helping out teachers in their 8th grade for example. But due to the enormous amount of feedback ive received, ill be telling you a  little about the actual lesson:

A class basically begins with everyone standing or the children standing and the teacher sitting and then they greet each other and the teacher either says : “ sit down“ or just does like a down wavy hand gesture to the students. When i taught, i was very text book focused since i was actually taking lesson time for them to learn German which would eventually contribute to a examination of a entry exam. Thats why i didn’t have like my own topics and used the textbooks. I cant really describe what they learn abut since it really is like a huge variety of Topics, from Holidays to Collections ( kinda weird haha ) Now during the lesson i really only speak German with the children, since thats what im here for. Occasionally some classes would be loud but over the two weeks ive learned the words for quiet , which is “ Suck“, and write , “ gri“. So with that , i am a native speaker. We usually go through 2/ 3 pages of the book work during a unit which incorporates auditory,vocal and written skills to be used. Of course not all children are always the most eager ones to answer questions or tasks so i try to incorporate everyone by sometimes not letting the usual ones speak and deliberately choosing students who arnt volunteering or are just quiet. I have had pleasant surprises by using that method. There has also of course been more interesting lesson experiences where i had to tame the class instead of teaching them haha, there was one instance in a book club where  had a wooden stick and i was banging on the table so they would settle down, but it rarely worked.


So at the moment of writing this paragraph, i am not in Chambarack but in the capital since im having a little exploring week with the Goethe institute. Tomorrow morning ill be getting on a train to Gjumri, a town in the north, to probably check out a new PASCH school and from Sunday to Wednesday ill be traveling south with my contact from my the Goethe center. ( I have returned from that now haha and the next post will be covering all of that) hehe

Sadly i also have a few videos id like to post but they can currently not be posted in here since its too big and ill first have to find out how to do it.

Now to the actual topic of this Post, my three days in Eriwan before my little travel.

I got into a Marschrutka ( the small buses which form a major part of the transportation in armenia) at around 9:30 and we were off! First i was a little afraid that my big traveling rucksack was stolen since it was placed to the very front of the bus and i was having a window seat in the back. reason for that worry was the many warning from local friends and online readings which documented experiences where items and belongings where stolen very slyly on such marschrutkas, but it was all fine haha. It was just crammed behind a seat so my paranoia was unnecessary!  SO we tuckered around the Sevan lake and at the city of Sevan, our tire burst haha which was very anticlimactic and so we managed to drive inot a small mechanics workshop at the roadside and waited for like 20 minutes while they fixed the car. Once we drove for another hour or  so to Yerevan , we where ushered out at the last stop which for me was like in the middle of nowhere haha, i checked google maps and i was somewhere in he outskirts of the cities with no ideas how to get to the apartment of the others. So i imitated the locals! They where all standing, as i assumed for a bus, so i gave them some company and sure enough, the second bus which drove by was the one where the most people got in  sooo i followed them. The rest of the bus way i just checked my google maps to see where i was and the moment i was near to a subway station i got out and from there the way was easy 🙂 I was welcomed nicely and got shown to my bed room, the living room haha , but i must say that the couch is very nice and comfortable to sleep on.

Now the next day started with a very calm and relaxing morning after which we decided to go and visit Garni, a old religious site an hour or so outside of the city so we ate a light breakfast and went to Gai bus station , which even the taxi driver didn’t even know about haha ( taxi drivers in Yerevan are pretty bad in general with knowing the city’s) . There while we waited around 10 minutes we bought some baked goods as provisions during the trip and then we already got on the bus and drove off. he got some hachapuri , like bread with cheese baked into it but the real good one was like this bread which ´was fried and was filled with soft potatoes with herbs, it was fucking lit. The bus was a little crowded , maybe around 16 people, and during the drive we saw the pretty landscape of Armenia and even  had a good sight at Mount Ararat.

Once there we walked down a street to get to the entrance of the open air museum and we started to think of how to evade paying the hefty entrance fee for foreigners  (1500 Dram or 3 euros) and we pulled out our volunteer cards of kulturweit which were of course designed very official but actually had no value or power at all haha . And so Martin, another volunteer, did the big leap of faith and approached the ticket booth spoke a few words of English and handed in the cad. Interestingly enough since our program also is cooperating with UNESCO their logo was on the card and that caught the vendors eye and he said something with UNESCO and issued us inside. Either he thought we where some super official delegation or the Heritage site was part of a UNESCO branch or program and thus we where granted free entry hahaha, wont complain though 😉

The Upper picture is was taken while having our little hike after we looked at the actual heritage site, the walked for around 2 hours or so and the sight and landscape was crazy. You cant really say anything more, its just very very beautiful.

Now this picture is the actual heritage site, The main attraction is of course the ancient Temple, around there are more buildings like a destroyed palace and a bathhouse. The whole site is located on a small “ peninsula“ kinda rock thing while its surrounded by a winding valley, truly a lovely experience but ill leave it up to you to find out more by yourself when you visit yourself hehe.

Now the real interesting part was the way back haha. After our small hike , we walked back for about 20 minutes through a small village which was pretty interesting to see some if the rural lifestyle in Armenia. Of course we got some stares while walking through there haha from people and animals xD

Now so we are waiting at the bus station for the last marschroutka of the day and martin goes to buy some “ gata“ a kind of mixture of bread ad a cake, a very good dessert and snack and suddenly the bus appears! We kinda panic since its the last bus out of here but fortunately we see martin running towards us in the distance so that problem was solved, but there was another one! I luckily still got a seat when i got into the bus, it was already filled with around 17 people, but along our drive back, the little bus stopped again and again to pick up more and more people. Final count was 31 which is ridiculous haha, children where squeezed into small spaced , people stood bent over and there where like 5 people squeezed into the front, excluding the driver haha.  There was one chinese tourist who got one with whom er had a few interesting conversations. She worked for a airline company and had traveled a lot of the world and spoke Japanese aswell as English pretty fluently which was a delight for me of course hehe. After we arrived we took a taxi back to the apartment because we wernt bothered with going to the subway again plus the price difference really wasn’t that big , the taxi ride was around 3 euros. And there we had out next surprise person!

That person was out taxi driver. he first spoke Russian with us but after he recognized that we spoke German with each other he also managed to bring out a few German words and started explaining his past. It turned out that during the time of the Soviet union  that he was stationed in Germany and always liked the language but never managed to learn it. Later he also lived in Hungary and could speak fluent Hungarian which also was very interesting. That little encounter kinda like opened my eyes that , people really dont show what they have gone through in their life and that every person really probably has a very cool past.

And after we arrived we exghaustidly went to eat out but since im really fed up with writing this post, it will sadly be a part of my year here you all with never hear about haha.

Till the next Entry!