Saturday, October 1, 2011

Hub Day!

Enid, Michele, Dan, Kenzie, Dan, Shannon, and Me
eating dinner at the Irish Pub in Kumanovo
Yesterday we had our first Hub Day, where all 36 PCTs from the four training communities met together in Kumanovo for training. It was great to see everyone else, since we haven't seen them in 2 weeks. It was like seeing old friends. The interesting part about it though, was even though there were some people from other communities that I really wanted to see, many of us hung out with others from our training communities, as those are the people we have really bonded with. For the most part, everyone is having a great time. The only real negative I heard was of one person who has either fleas or bedbugs at their home stay, but they are enjoying it despite that minor inconvenience. The statistics say that we will most likely loose at least two people from the MAK-16 group before Swearing In the end of November, but so far, everyone is holding up strong.

Shannon, Hana, Enid, and Me
It was kind of weird being back in Kumanovo after being in Lozovo since there is such a dramatic size difference. Those of us from the two small villages were a little overwhelmed at first. There was so much going on- people everywhere, lights everywhere.

Going back a few days, on Thursday we had our site placement interviews. They went really well. We met individually with the Program Managers, the Program Specialist, and the Program and Training Department Head. They asked questions about our previous experiences, our ideas of what we hope to accomplish in our time here, how we make friends, what our hobbies are, etc. I expressed interest in not caring if I am with a host family or not, I just want to be able to cook for myself and I would like to work with younger children. They were really excited that I have had experience with curriculum development and said the English curriculum for the youngest children (1st/2nd grade) needs a lot of work and is where English teachers are struggling the most, so hopefully I will get placed at that age level. Peace Corps anticipates us finding out our site placements on October 26th, so in one month I should know where I will be living for the next two years!

We were given our Macedonian bank accounts yesterday and will be getting our next months allowance put into them any day. One of the best parts about being in a village is you really don't spend much money because 1) there aren't places to go that cost money and 2) things are pretty cheap. Many of us still have a sizable chunk of our first walk-around allowance from Peace Corps, which is nice because right now we are getting 125 dinari, the equivalent of $2.75, a day. For the village trainees, that is a lot! That would buy us 8 coffees, or 3 bottles of Coke, or 5 large candy bars, or 2 1/2 bottles of Ckopcko.

Starting next weekend we can travel on our own for day trips. I don't know how much I will do that, but it will be nice to have the option. Next Saturday we have a training workshop in Probistip, so we will get to see everyone again.

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