Saturday, September 18, 2010

My Continuing Adventure...

After recent international adventures with Lisa to Argentina and Italy, it's time for something a little different...

I've once again been offered the opportunity to volunteer with the Organization for Security & Cooperation in Europe as an international elections observer - this time in Kyrgyzstan!

Kyrgyzstan is a small, mountainous, landlocked central-Asian nation - bordered by Kazakhstan to the north, Uzbekistan to the west, Tajikistan to the southwest, and China to the east.

Yes, I know that doesn't help most of you - so here's a map to put it into perspective:

Kyrgyzstan is the tiny yellow country
(it isn't really yellow...)
in the upper right

I'm tentatively scheduled to leave Seattle on October 3, arriving in Bishkek, the capitol of Kyrgyzstan, after a series of flights more than half-way around the world (It would be shorter to fly westward through China, but all OSCE missions rendezvous in Europe en route).

I'll be in Bishkek for a couple of days of briefings on Kyrgyz election law and election observation procedures, and then deploy with a team for a few days somewhere out in the hinterlands to actually observe what will by Kyrgyzstan's first parliamentary election since adopting a new constitution last spring.

After observing the election and filling out reports, we'll return to Bishkek for debriefing and a post-election reception before flying home. I should be getting back to Seattle around October 15.

Two glorious weeks of...

Well, not so glorious. It's plenty of hard work.

On election day we'll be traveling over rough terrain from one village to another to watch people vote, and then staying up all night long to watch election officials tabulate the results - by hand.

Did I mention I'll be doing all of this on a 13-hour jet-lag, after sitting on planes for about 15 hours?

Still, it's extremely rewarding - I can't wait to eat some "besh barmak," drink some "kymyz," and play an invigorating game of "Buzkashi!"

Much more to follow!

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