A few things I learned:
- It was really easy to come back to America. It was easy to fall back into the roles that everyone (including myself) expect of me. Since we were only home for two weeks, I'm not sure if that is or will be my reality in a year from now, but we got it done! Even though I've been living and breathing Azerbaijan for the last year, it was also easy to just get 'stuck in the moment' and not think about my life back here in AZ. It made me really understand how difficult it might be for those of you who are living your life to really think about us here on a regular basis, since we're so far away and living such a crazy, different life here.
- It was also so easy to get distracted! Because I am not accustomed to hearing much English around me (especially in social situations), when there were a lot of people around, my ears kept picking up other conversations! Here in AZ, I'm so focused on trying to understand and communicate with one person that I have tunnel vision/listening and can pretty much drown out all other voices because I don't naturally pick out words. My apologies to any of you who felt the wrath of this lesson learned!
- Wow, I can't recall a time in the last year when I've ever been so BUSY. I fully realize that I was in matron of honor mode, and had a lot of catching up to do since I've been missing in action for the past year. Between every meal we generally had somewhere to be, something to do, and someone to see. It was truly a gift, but amazingly exhausting. Comparing that American pace to our life here doesn't even begin to look at all the same. However, since communication was so easy, I felt like I could really do it all during those two weeks. Sadly, my last few hours in the States, I didn't feel so mentally strong, as I crammed an amazing amount of stuff in suitcases.
- Technically this isn't something I learned, but I was able to recognize the level of generosity from friends and family who donated things for us to use here in Quba. It was an awesome reaffirmation of the work we're doing! We received a huge amount of school supplies/financial support to bring back to Azerbaijan, donated from friends, family, former co-workers, and a Girl Scout troop! We've already put some supplies to work last month as we made Halloween masks! Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts.
- Finally, I didn't expect to have a great urge to return back to AZ life, but I think I really did. I've found that this place is my home. The kids I work with on a daily basis are truly amazing, and I get to see their motivation increase, their creativity rise, and their joy fill a room. I'm not done here yet, and even though it's not totally understood by some, I'm still learning (and sometimes teaching). I continue to learn so much about this new, different culture, about a religion that's highly misunderstood by many, about a lifestyle that's had such an oppressive history. Likewise, I'm learning about myself and my relationship with Joey. I like learning, but I know that in a year from now, I'll have much more learning to do as we re-enter a life in America that will be familiar and unfamiliar, all at the same time.
Have a happy Thanksgiving! We love you and we sincerely thank you for your support!
If anyone wanted to drop us a Christmas card, or has a desire to send us a care package in the future (Joey's requesting bacon and summer sausage), here's our address:
Hillary and Joey Zielazinski
Agamali Oglu Kuchesi #69