The internship opportunities in Vladimir are rather few and far between. Though I managed to finally find something: Я работаю на стройке (I am working construction)!
This is exciting for a number of reasons. For one, I work with a bunch of guys who are my friends. So it is really not that bad spending eight-ten hours with a group of ones' pals.
All of the guys are immigrants from Uzbekistan. They take tremendous delight that an American wants to learn from them. They are also thrilled by the Uzbek phrases that I have learned.
When I proposed to the foreman, Komil, that I be his intern, he seemed really excited. He is apparently a master of tile work.
What I do all day is slab concrete on the bottom of tiles, and hand them to the master. I also get the privledge of running up and down three stories of stairs to fetch wet concrete.
I typically also eat lunch and dinner with the workers. They (the Uzbeks) eat everything with their hands... They never use forks, etc.
They are also tremendously patriarchial. The lone woman that lives with at the construction site cooks and cleans. I don't think that she is allowed to leave the house.
Uzbekistan is a muslim country. Though they are really like Muslim-light. They eat pork and drink beer (and vodka only on holidays). They always say prayer after eating/drinking (even after drinking beer). Only the senior members of the community are allowed to drink or smoke. The younger ones (in their 20s) are not.
They are also much more into formality. Older persons (even if they are only a month older) are always addressed using the formal "Вы" (the equivalent of "you"). Whereas younger persons are spoken to using informal "Ты" (the equivalent of "thee"). Also, children refer to their parents using the formal. As wives also speak to their husbands using the formal, though husbands speak to their wives using the informal.
I am allowed to use the informal ("Ты") with everyone.
Last night I was invited to a wedding feast at the construction site. The wedding was for the sister of one of the workers. Since the workers couldn't attend the wedding (the wedding was in Uzbekistan) they decided to make their own celebration.
There were about 10 Uzbek guys, and one other American (I brought him with me). The two Americans got the "places of honor" to sit at the dinner table.
The event consisted of lots of food (mostly all rice based), vodka and dancing. The Uzbeks impressed me by their tremendous hospitality. They also impressed me by their sincerity in speech. Really, the Uzbeks are fun to spend time with.
***I hope to upload some pics soon!***