The People of Noyemberyan

Just as a warning, this post will be largely lost upon anyone that didn't follow my previous blog while I was in the Peace Corps. Except maybe the first part about my host mother, Gohar, because it's pretty funny. I will cover two of our most interesting visits, the KGD mountain art camp and the farm dinner/epic mountain adventure with the school director, in separate posts.

Rossanna, her sister, me, and Gohar

So, Gohar is doing well. For those who don't know her, she's the exuberant, fast talking, backgammon playing, surrogate mother I lived with for two years. I also lived with a host brother, Mkhitar, who is hard to describe. He loves to sing and play the drums and use a lot of Russian slang, sometimes all at once, and often when I was on the phone with Sara. Anyway, the big news was that he got married this past December! He was working with horses Up on a mountain while we were visiting, so we didn't get to see him, but his wife, Rossana, was staying with Gohar so we met her as well.

We were fortunate enough to arrive the same day as their wedding DVD. Armenians love wedding videos, and really do them up with really cheesey special effects like exploding hearts and doves flying accords the screen. This video did not disappoint. It featured all the major Armenian wedding components, which I've blogged about before, but the basic sequence is:

  1. Family dances as groom gets ready
  2. Groom's entourage drives to bride's house in a caravan, honking their horns; family dances
  3. Bride is received and joins the entourage; family dances; entourage continues drive
  4. Religious ceremony at church
  5. Entourage drives to party; family dances
  6. Toasts
  7. Family dances
  8. Steps 6 and 7 repeat until dawn

Sara and Gohar playing Nardi

Anyway, the whole video was an hour, and was good, especially since it included Mkhitar singing and drumming. It was a real test of my Armenian (which was surprisingly good 4 years later – I got a lot of compliments), since fast-talking Gohar was extra excited, it was taxing on my brain to keep up. It was fun, and later she showed us all the stuff of mine she'd saved, we showed her our wedding pictures on the iPad (watching her trying to swipe was hilarious), and we called it a night.

We dropped by again the last day in Noyemberyan for breakfast. Sara wanted to show off her new backgammon skills, and Gohar gladly obliged. Gohar is a pretty intense player and moved most of the time for Sara. Visiting her is one of my favorites because she no longer worries about the hospitality pleasantries with me. So, while Sara and Gohar played, I got to make the coffee and play “hars” (housewife). It was a nice change of pace from the otherwise draconian gender roles there. It was very sad to say goodbye to everyone, but especially Gohar because we literally spent every day together.

Great to be back home!

Anyway, the rest of this post is a laundry list of other people I met and what they're doing:

  • Mina/little Hasmik – she has twins now that are one year old / working at the police station and wants to move to Italy.
  • Berdavan Hasmik – also has a kid now who is cute. Married a taxi driver friend, Hayk, last year. We put the taxi sign on the baby stroller and it was funny.
  • Gohar and her family – my Armenian tutor, Kevin's host family. Moving to Yerevan soon because their son qualified for the Armenian national youth soccer team. Also, Sara fixed one of their hearing aides and gave hearing advice to several of their neighbors!
  • Shushanik – English club student, Our City president. Now lives in Yerevan, applying for a masters program in economics, attended a program in Israel for girls that live in volatile border areas (included Azerbaijan, Armenia, Israel, and Palestine girls).
  • Anna and Ani from IOC – both working in really great jobs teaching at a university and international banking, respectively.
  • Nareh – English club student, great English. Studying French and law at the French university, will likely go study in France in a year or two.

I was so impressed with how far many of the people I'd worked with or helped mentor have achieved over the past four years. They were all truly inspiring for me, as they represented some of the brightest young minds I met in Armenia, and those who will really lead the country forward.


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2 Responses to The People of Noyemberyan

  1. Marsha Gifford says:

    Glad you got to reconnect with old friends & that they’re doing well! Interesting as always!

  2. Barbara Robinson says:

    What a wonderful experience for both of you! Many great memories for you. Glad to hear about your friends doing well. I’ve enjoyed following your trip!