Say What? Acronyms and Terms

After reading through some of my blog entires and talking on the phone with family members and friends and constantly having to clarify what I am talking about, I realise that I end up adapting to and using a lot of Peace Corps lingo and Kyrgyz language that can be a little confusing to those who are stateside (or elsewhere).

In solution, here is an alphabetical, comprehensive (but constantly evolving) list of terms, acronyms and words commonly used in Kyrgyzstan and in my blogs that might need some clarification.

Ail Okmotu– Local government in the village is called the Ail Okmotu.  Not every village has an Ail Okmotu but they are in charge of documents and funding for a group of people (either one village or a group of small villages)

Autovoxal– bus and mashrutka station, essentially the place where all or most modes of transport gather in each city or village. Autovoxals are usually full of very aggressive taxi drivers (who will actually grab your bag and put it in their taxi if you don’t have a tight grip and a firm Kyrgyz/Russian response ready to go) and men looking to fill up their mashrutkas so that they can get going (they generally wont leave with even a single open seat which usually means if you’re somewhere not a lot of people are leaving from you’ll be waiting a while)

Baike-literally meaning “older brother” in Kyrgyz, is a term of respect used after a man’s name when addressing a man older than yourself

Chai Ich– translating to “drink tea” in Kyrgyz, this is a common activity in Kyrgyzstan both at work and at home, much of the time business is done over hours of “chai iching” (frequently used as a verb by Peace Corp Volunteers)

COS– Close of Service, when a PCV ends their service for the Peace Corps after completing a full two years and returns to America, Canada, China, India, or wherever their next adventure in life takes them. (hint: after 2 years with no showers, it’s usually back to America…)

Deputy– these are go betweens for the Ail Okmotu, the rayon center government and the small villages (In my experience they are often young men and often want to know why you are unmarried or why you don’t want a boyfriend or why you don’t want their number or why you wont give them yours… their curiosity is endless)

Eje– literally meaning “older sister” in Kyrgyz, is a term of respect used after a woman’s name when addressing a woman older than yourself

ET– Early Termination, when a volunteer chooses to end their service and leave the country before the two year contract is up.

HPU– Health Promotion Unit, on a rayon level there should be one Health Promotion Unit per rayon that is in charge of overseeing many Village Health Committees.  Some health volunteers are placed at HPUs while others are placed at VHCs or smaller health NGOs and other organisations.

Jigit– (pronounced ji-geet) the Kyrgyz language word for a teenage male in Kyrgyzstan

Mashrutka– a minibus, the most common and most affordable form of transportation in Kyrgyzstan, almost always hot, sweaty and crowded, but don’t you dare open that window or the roof hatch! A breeze might blow in someone’s face making them sick and then it will be your fault!

Oblast– A state.  There are seven oblasts in Kyrgyzstan: Chui, Issyk Kul, Talas, Naryn, Osh, Jallalabad and Batken.  All of them currently host volunteers except for Batken (which volunteers are not allowed to travel to due to political instability and unrest and even embassy folk are discouraged from visiting)

Oyat– the Kyrgyz word for “shame” which is often accompanied by a motion: slow dragging of the index finger down the your cheek while staring at the person, if you are looking to oyat someone silently

PCV– Peace Corps Volunteer

PCMC– Peace Corps Medical Coordinator (ie. those doctors and medical staff who helped me through surgery abroad)

Rayon– A district.  The rayon center often houses the HPU as well as other medical and political offices.  Each village government (ail okmotu) reports back to their rayon centers as do health organisations.

RPCV– Returned Peace Corps Volunteer

VHC– Village Health Committee (ADK in Kyrgyz and CKZ in Russian) is a volunteer run organisation that is responsible for giving out health information in their village.  Because these organisations are volunteer run (usually by someone in the medical field) they sometimes are informally structured and staffed

Please please please email me or comment below if I have missed anything!


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