Two blog posts in a day- it’s a big day/I feel guilty when I haven’t updated for awhile but I get messages from people saying they enjoy my blog! That is how you get me to write if its been a little while!
I have now been at site for over a month. Christmas Day marked our one month anniversary as PCVs, so we had all the more reason to celebrate. A lot has happened in this past month. I have experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, something my fellow MAK-16s can easily agree with. I am still trying to figure out my place here both in the community and at school.
This month I have spent shadowing all six English teachers at my school and one of the village schools. Most of the time I have just sat and observed the class, occasionally read a text or two in American English (which the kids prefer and find it easier to pronounce- I can see it now….in two years there will be a whole bunch of little Macedonian children running around with Minnesotan accents!). Now after our big break (we have a break from December 31-January 20 or so due to the many holidays- Нова Година (New Years- December 31/January 1), Божик (Eastern Orthodox Christmas- January 6/7), and Стара Нова Година (Old New Years- January 14) my schedule will change and I will be working with fewer teachers and focusing on the younger grades (right now I have been in 1st-8th). My counterpart is great and really enjoys teaching. She wants to improve her English and teaching and is really curious about how things are done in America. She is a good teacher and uses methods more similar to the American system than the others. I have loved being in the 3rd and 4th grade classes the most and will be spending more time with them. Hopefully after the break I will be able to help more in the classroom and start some secondary projects because right now I am not very useful. However, today I actually got to help with the 4th and 6th graders. I talked to the 4th graders about American Christmas traditions and helped the 6th graders write compositions about their good and bad habits. I also will start helping out at the kindergarten with the English teacher there (even if I go when they aren’t learning English, the Macedonian of 3, 4, and 5-year-olds is much more at my level).
Here in Macedonia, I am an expert on a multitude of topics, simply because I am American. I have been an expert on global warming (which doesn’t really exist in Macedonia of course) to haggis (why yes, every American knows about the traditional Scottish dish) and British laws (again, because we speak the same language, I must know everything about the British government). I was an expert at addressing Ambassadors and ribbon cutting ceremonies (the Swiss Ambassador to Macedonia came to Kamenica on December 23rd to open a brand new playground that they helped fund with the Opstina (government) and a local HBO (NGO) and I was there with my counterpart to help provide English translation (because after studying Macedonian for 3 months I can certainly translate for the Swiss Ambassador- lucky for me his personal assistant was fluent in Macedonian, English, Italian, and German). I was an expert on drawing Christmas trees and the internet (I often am asked to translate error messages for people since they show up in English).
As far as my house, I have made it more my own. I will try to post pictures soon. I have learned how to build fires in my wood burning stove and haul wood 2-3 times a day. When I get a good fire going, it heats up all of the radiators in my house and makes every room warm (even my forbidden room- the room Peace Corps isn’t paying for me to have, but I can really use it anyway if I want). Without a fire, it is dreadfully cold and I can barely stand to be outside of my down sleeping bag. I constantly can see my breath if I don’t have a fire going and my shampoo and conditioner freeze. I still don’t have internet. This has been quite the battle. I was promised internet by Lucia and was looking forward to Skyping with people back home then, didn’t happen. Then by American Christmas, didn’t happen. Now, I was told after the new year (that is the big holiday here, Christmas isn’t a big deal, but New Year’s Eve is huge). It is starting to get a little frustrating since I really haven’t talked to my parents in over a month when they were in California with Anna. But soon, hopefully (although I am not getting my hopes up). I recently have really gotten to see what my water distiller takes out of my water. Previously it was just white crystallized sludge, now it has started to be more of a reddish (I am assuming suddenly the iron content from the mine has increased, but I am still waiting to see what medical has to say about this).
I am debating if my language has gotten better or worse. A lot of people lost language skills when we stopped having 4 hours of Macedonian language a day, however I speak only Macedonian outside of school, so I don’t have a choice to practice. It is no big deal now to walk into a prodov and ask for some item I want to buy. Even if I don’t know the exact Macedonian word, I can usually describe what I am looking for and they understand (Trying to explain shower curtain was an interesting one- кого јас се туширам, многу вода сел бања. Треба голема пластик крпа- When I shower, lots water whole bathroom. Need big plastic towel- complete with gestures- And after all of this, I found out they don’t sell shower curtains in my town). I translate what I want to say when talking to younger kids at school without much difficulty. Once I get internet, I will be able to start my Skype tutoring with Dushko (my LCF from PST) which will help too.
Tomorrow is the last day of school until the new year. I still am not sure what I will be doing for New Year’s Eve. Another volunteer is coming into town and we will na gosti somewhere, either the girls next door, the teachers at school, or my landlady. Tonight I am going to the old cinema to see my student’s New Years performance and tomorrow I was invited to go to the kindergarten to see their holiday performance which I am really excited about as well.
Среќенa Нова 2012 Година!