Well life here in Kamenica keeps ticking along. School days are a little long some days since I am still trying to figure out what my job is/where I am useful. In talking with previous/current volunteers this often takes 3 months to a year, so I guess I have lots of sitting and observing left to do. However, I am going to try a new approach and try to figure out just what the school wanted when they requested me. I have yet to figure out who exactly did- whether it was a specific teacher, the director, or just a general thought that I could be a useful addition for a while. Once I get this figure out hopefully I can figure out more what I should be doing. I have been emailing with an RPCV who lived in Kamenica and he has been a good resource. He was a MAK 7 back in the early 2002/2003, however was only in Kamenica for about 8 months due to the mine flooding/pollution incident everyone here seems to not talk about at all.
I have learned though that in this country, I can’t be passive and unopinionated like I was in US. If I don’t like something, I can’t just go with it/hope it will change. I need to address it right away and be blunt. This is really hard for me to do since it isn’t my way. If I am tired and just want to go home and relax, I need to say I am tired instead of sitting at one more na gosti not enjoying myself/thinking about how I wish I could be home sleeping. I would like to think this will a) get easier over time and b) get easier when I have more stuff going on. I think I need to be blunt and after observing a little more, tell the teachers that I am not a decoration for their classroom. If I am not going to be used by a certain teacher/grade, there is no point in me being there.
Despite not having language class anymore, I can tell my Macedonian is still improving. When I introduce myself to new classes, I do it in English first, then Macedonian and between that and a few other things, I have been doing lots of translating, which is good practice. My task now is translating my chocolate chip cookie recipe into Macedonian for the teachers who have been asking daily for it after I brought in some cookies. As soon as I get internet I will start Skype tutoring with my Macedonian Language Teacher from Lozovo, Dushko, and he sent me a message yesterday in Macedonian and I understood it and responded back in Macedonian, to which he said he was impressed because I was 90% accurate on it all. I still don’t quite know when to use which prepositions and direct and indirect objects are still the bane of my existence, however I am using over half of the long form direct objects on a regular basis now.
Highlights of Today:
· Built a second fire all on my own! It still takes me a while (longer than a Macedonian) and a lot of paper (I was scolded today for using plain paper, but that’s all I have right now- you don’t just walk into a store and buy old used paper, so I don’t exactly know where to get other stuff this time of year), but I eventually get it. It is amazing how natural hauling wood several times a day is now and its only been a week and a half.
· Watched fish being scaled and gutted (Yeah I know I am from MN, but believe it or not I have never been fishing). It was gross as is, but I kinda freaked out a little when they started scaling the fish that were still alive. Please can someone start cutting off my outer layer of skin while I am alive!
· Met the final English teacher at the school today and she is AMAZING! She teaches the first, second, and fifth graders. She had me working with them from the start, helping the first graders cut shapes to make masks. A huge plus with her too is that she has experience working with the last few volunteers, so she understands much more than most why I am here. I am hoping to work with her a lot.
· I killed a bug (like a giant box elder bug) with my bare hands and only slightly flinched.
· I messaged back and forth briefly with my host brother and host sister and Kenzie’s host father in Lozovo and I am very excited to go back and visit in January. While I know Kamenica is my new home, right now Lozovo is still my Macedonian home to me.