As part of our training we went to a city called Karaganda last week. It was quote a trip especially since it started and ended with an eighten hour train ride. In the city, we got to meet with different organizations, orphanages, and schools. It was a great practical experience in working in Kazakhstan. We also got to meet current volunteers and hear great stories from them. The last night there we went to an amazing Georgian restaurant. I got lobio (spiced kidney beans) and kachapury (flatbread with cheese). It was the best meal I've had in Kazakhstan. The field trip was a much needed break from the day to day schedule of training, even though we worked in Karaganda.
Since the field trip we have been eagerly looking forward to site announcements. This is the day when all 65 trainees gather together and find out where we will be living for the next two years and which organization we will work with. I don't know if I can stress the level of anticipation that day. In Peace Corps style the announcements were made at the very end of the day. Each regional manager gave a brief description of the site then announced who would be going there. Of course I was talking while my description was given, my technical trainer is hushing me and then all of a sudden I hear my name. It was funny because alot of people were sad or really excited about their placements but I didn't even know where I was going. After announcements we met in oblast (state) groups and got more detailed information about our sites. I will be spending two years living in the southern city of Shymkent. It is a mix of traditional Kazakh culture and the modernity of a big city. I am excited to get the best of both worlds. Another nice thing is that I will still be able to speak Russian there and maybe learn some Kazakh. The city has many universities so there is a youthful vibe. Volunteers there enjoying going to jazz clubs on Wednesday nights and swimming in the heated outdoor pool. Once a week the hold events at the American corner of the libraray and a movie night. I will primarily be working with an organization called Intellect. The are working on many things: civil and economic development, healthy lifestyles, debate clubs, summer camps and prevention of youth delinquency. Needless to say I am very excited about my new city and organization!!!