FAQs

Wait, who are you again?
Why the Peace Corps?
Where exactly do you live?
How long will you be there?
Did you know where you were going before you got there? Did Peace Corps let you pick?
What do you do there?
What are other Peace Corps Volunteers doing in the Kyrgyz Republic?
What language do you speak in Kyrgyzstan?
What’s the deal with the blog?
Who takes the pictures on this site? What kind of camera do you use?
Let’s talk more about everything! Can we?

Don’t see your question in the list? ASK IT HERE!

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Wait, who are you again?

Madeline, sometimes Maddie, a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Kyrgyz Republic. You can find out more here, or ask me a question using this contact form.

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Why the Peace Corps?

I’ve written a lot about why I joined – but this is the bottom line: I wanted to serve my country. Peace Corps gave me an opportunity to do so in a way that makes sense with my academic background, my career goals, and my constant need to be challenged. Also, I could still become a princess.

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Where exactly do you live?

I know that Kyrgyzstan is not somewhere most people can point to on a map, but that’s where I live. Its beautiful, challenging, full of mountains, sheep, and incredibly welcoming people. I live in the capital, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan’s biggest city and a mixture of Soviet cosmopolitanism and Central Asian chaotic urban sprawl.

You can read more about the Kyrgyz Republic, or ask me a question about living in Central Asia using this contact form.

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How long will you be there?

27 months, more or less. After arriving on a red-eye flight to Kyrgyzstan in April 2013, the first three months were training in a village in Chui called Studencheskoe or Konyzavod, depending on whom you ask. The rest of my service will be living and working in Bishkek, and my Peace Corps service ends in June 2015.

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Did you know where you were going before you got there? Did Peace Corps let you pick?

No and no. Kyrgyzstan is where I was asked to serve, and that is where, after many months of waiting, I went. But not before Googling the country and trying to figure out where exactly it was and how to pronounce it. I could have been more specific about requesting a particular region, but I was more about the work and the challenge, so I packed my bags and here I am.

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What do you do there?

I live here, ride in marginally-safe, Soviet-era vehicles, take a lot of pictures, write constantly, eat sheep, and do work. I am a Health Education Volunteer posted at the Republican Center for Health Promotion and the Association of Village Health Committees. Here’s more detailed information about life as a Health Education Volunteer in Peace Corps Kyrgyzstan. If you have more specific questions, ask them here.

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What are other Volunteers doing in the Kyrgyz Republic?

PCVs in Kyrgyzstan work in three different areas – Teaching English as a Foreign Language, Health Education, and Sustainable Community Development. TEFLs work in schools and organizations supporting English Language teaching in Kyrgyzstan. Some work with younger students, some work with high schools, and some work as trainers to help develop stronger teaching methodology in Kyrgyz classrooms. HE Volunteers work with health promotion organizations – everything from village level volunteer organizations to rayon-center hospitals. Some also work with organizations and NGOs focusing on health access, training, or specific areas like reproductive health or water and sanitation. SCD Volunteers work with small businesses, entrepreneurship organizations, and NGOs, focusing on increasing sustainability, planning, and monitoring and evaluation. I’m a Health Education Volunteer, but you can read about other Volunteers in the Kyrgyz Republic from their blogs.

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What language do you speak in Kyrgyzstan?

I did my Peace Corps training in Russian, but the Kyrgyz Republic is a multilingual country. It has an official language (Russian), a national language (Kyrgyz), and a mixture of other languages mixed throughout that represent most of Central Asia (Uzbek, Uighur, Chinese, Tatar, Dungan, Tajik, Kazakh, Turkmen, and Turkish).

My work is primarily in Russian and English, but often peppered with Kyrgyz or some odd mixture of all three languages. I have had meetings in which main conversations are in Russian, I chime in with a mixture of Russian and English, and sidebars and questions are done entirely in Kyrgyz. Most Peace Corps Volunteers learn and work in Kyrgyz. Want a crash course in Kyrgyz?

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What’s the deal with the blog?

This blog started back in 2007 when I was a freshman in college and just starting to travel. The name came from a speech I gave in high school, and its about processing what is going on in my life and work at any particular moment. It’s had several variations, from covering my life as an AIESEC trainee in India, a study abroad student in Egypt, an intern in Syria, a political grandstander, and now a Peace Corps Volunteer. It’s obviously a collection of my rambling thoughts, but also, I hope, a resource for those trying to understand Kyrgyzstan, the life of a Peace Corps Volunteer, and for myself to look back at my time here.

Basically, it’s a way to connect you with where I live, the work that I do, Peace Corps’ Third Goal, and the weirdness that lives inside my brain. Have ideas on how to make this blog better? Send them here.

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Who takes the pictures on this site? What kind of camera do you use?

I do, unless I otherwise note that they are taken from another source (or am in them). Taking pictures is kind of my jam, and I use alternately a Canon Rebel Digital xTI or an iPhone 4 (that I do not use as an iPhone in Kyrgyzstan). I am a big fan of the Instagram, too.

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Let’s talk more about your work, your community, how I can send you care packages full of peanut butter and hot sauce, how I can visit, ask your thoughts on development, on public service, on music, on photography, on your love for Smitten Kitchen and Ta-Nehisi Coates, on promoting volunteerism. How can I do that?

Yes, let’s talk more! You can send me a message using this contact form, or post in the comments on any post. Let’s chat!

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