A Tbilisi Adventure: Writing Olympics
When I came into Peace Corps, I didn’t really imagine myself traveling much. Taking notes from other PCVs I’ve met and reading through experiences of Returned PCVs, it really sounded like I would be plunked down in a village to fend for myself, make a go of life there, and then be picked up two years later, plucked out and shipped back to the US, hopefully having adequately lived up to the expectations of Peace Corps. Little did I know that my being here and coordinating the Writing Olympics would carry me off to far-away lands in other Peace Corps countries. I gave you a run-down of the Writing Olympics here on the blog a few weeks ago. And two weekends ago now, I traveled to the capital city in Georgia to commence the international round of judging with fellow PCVS from Georgia, Armenia and Moldova. As well as the work days I counted, I took a few vacation days to extend the stay in Tbilisi.
First, concerning Writing Olympics. Kim, an Azerbaijan PCV based in Mingəcevir, joined me. We took our winning essays to Tbilisi ready to face down the rest of the Caucasus and Moldova in a nerd contest, seeing who can write more whimsical and creative prose, pitting CIS countries against themselves in an international showdown. Going into it, I was not very confident in our submissions. While we had some real gems in our stack of essays, I was not high on our prospects. Then I began reading essays from other countries. Joining our counterparts from Armenia, Georgia, and Moldova (the Moldovans joined via internet), we strolled through the essays, giving scores and tallying for finalists. Despite my doubts, Azerbaijan stole the show, sweeping up five international titles out of 11 total prizes. One of those wasn’t contestable, since Azerbaijan doesn’t have a 12th Grade (Moldova competed alone in that category), and one of our essayists missed snatching our sixth title by tenths of a point. Georgia, Armenia, and Moldova split the rest of the prizes. I’m pretty happy with our haul, and am looking forward to the big award ceremony in Baku to celebrate our national and international winners.
Some choice quotes from our essays:
- If women were in the army, it would be better. And, better, honestly awesome.
- And today people destroy the world and this way they destroy our life.
- Maybe this man would be equal with angels, because there is no perfect man in the world. The picture would say: “Nobody is perfect. I am nobody.”
- First, I like strong and beautiful animals. That’s why I would be a butterfly.