Friday, November 22, 2013


I am happy to announce that on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Peace Corps founder John F. Kennedy, I became a
I am a whole mix of emotions right now. It has been over two years since I was in America and on one hand, I am very excited to leave, but on the other hand, I am dreading it. Most RPCVs will tell you that the hardest part of Peace Corps is returning home. When coming here, you are expecting everything to be different, so you are prepared. But when I think about life in America, it is almost like it should have just stood still and nothing changed. For this reason, I am very glad I am on the boat home with 8 other RPCVs. We will get the chance to enter an American environment, but be with people who we were with here who completely understand what the last two years has been about. I think it will make the transition a bit easier.

Things I am Most Excited for in America
  1. The obvious, friends and family
  2. It might be cold outside, but you have working heat inside that only requires the push of a button
  3. Not being starred at everywhere I go
  4. Being able to wash and dry your clothes in under three hours and the oh-so-softness of clothes fresh from a dryer
  5. People waiting their turn in line
  6. Going to restaurants and being able to hear people as the music is kept at a reasonable level
  7. Food variety: Going to places where every menu isn't identical
  8. Driving cars, rather than riding on long, long buses
  9. As silly as it may sound, the food I am most excited to get back to in America right now is soy yogurt and the rest of my non-dairy alternatives
  10. English being spoken everywhere
  11. No more weird meat products, or at least no one lying to me about what kind of "meat" they are trying to serve me
However, I am sad to say goodbye to this place. This country has been my home for two years. I have experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows here, but through it all, I have grown personally. As much as the Peace Corps experience is about skills transfer and bettering the lives of those you work with, you do have a whole lot of time to spend working on yourself (sometimes too much time!). And despite all the lows I have experienced here, I wouldn't have traded this for anything.

Things I am Least Excited for in America
  1. Everything costs so much more in America
  2. Here working 7:30-1:30 was a long day, I can't imagine working 8 hours a day anymore
  3. While you can only get what's seasonal and not too crazy, the fruits and vegetables here are just better
  4. People you have never met invite you into their homes here, that concept doesn't exist in America.
  5. American news is filled with all the negative things that go on. Macedonian news isn't. This is a very safe country. 
  6. English being spoken everywhere- Its been kinda nice not understanding everything people say to you
  7. Dealing with the "real world"- I can't escape it forever 
The countdown:
  0 days until I COS
4 days until I leave Macedonia
  20 days until I arrive in America
  21 days until I am back in Minnesota

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Saying Goodbye

Not that long ago, I said my goodbyes to the people, my life in, and the town of Makedonska Kamenica. While I certainly had my ups and downs there, it was my home for the past two years and what a weird feeling it was to leave. I started saying my goodbyes about two weeks before I left as I knew the time would disappear much faster than I anticipated.

There are many times throughout this Peace Corps experience that I have questioned whether I have made any difference here because it is hard to know. My last few days at site, I realized just how many people there do care about me and I have made an impact on. Saying goodbye was a lot harder than I thought it would be. There were way more tears shed than I anticipated. My last day of school, I had students bawling their eyes out in the halls. My last na gosti to my former neighbours left the girls sobbing. And worst, my host mother. It is still a little hard thinking about. 

As I said a final goodbye to my host parents, my host mother burst into tears and told me it was the saddest day of her life. Her daughter moved to Italy 10 years ago and she said that was easier because she knew her daughter would come back, but she didn't know if she would ever see me again. As I climbed onto my packed Berovo bus with tears rolling down my cheeks, I was clearly the object of curiosity on the bus. I spent the entire ride to Shtip wiping away tears and listening to sad songs on my iPod while the man across the aisle spent the entire ride looking at me perplexed. 

As I was saying my goodbyes, I tried to make sure I took a photo with everyone. While I didn't get quite everyone, I took quite a few.
One of the Babas in my old neighbourhood
Keti, Ivona, and Martin, three of the cutest kids in my old neighbourhood. Keti's English is fantastic for a 7th grader, mostly because she isn't afraid to speak and make mistakes.
Marija was my neighbour at my old house and I spent many nights at her house
Sara was another neighbour girl at my old house
Some of my 7th graders with the gift they gave me
These girls are amazing English students!
Veneta and Karolina are two of my GLOW girls
Monika is another neighbour girl I would visit
Monika's brother Hristijan
Brankica was a GLOW girl and Oliver was one of my YMLP boys. I am hoping Oliver gets to study in America next year.
My host father, Blagoj
My host mother, Svetlana
My counterpart and I decided not to say goodbye to each other because neither one of us wanted to. This way, I have to go back and visit her. My camera batteries were dead when I went to Lozovo to say goodbye unfortunately, so I didn't get any photos with my family there. This just means I have to go back and see them again I guess!

Monday, November 4, 2013

My 15 Minutes of Fame

Peace Corps Volunteer Teaches Students about Halloween to Encourage Cultural Exchange 

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 31, 2013 – Peace Corps volunteers worldwide are teaching community members about American Halloween traditions, exemplifying the Peace Corps’ goal of promoting a better understanding of Americans on the part of people served. Below is an example of how one volunteer in Macedonia shared American Halloween traditions with her students.

Peace Corps volunteer Sara Scholin of Pine City, Minn., recently collaborated with two teachers from the local primary school in her Macedonian community to host a three-day Halloween celebration for nearly 500 students in grades five through eight. During the celebration, students learned about the basic history of Halloween and participated in traditional Halloween activities.

“A few weeks before Halloween, a couple of the seventh-grade girls approached me asking if I could organize something for Halloween,” Scholin said.

Scholin and her fellow teachers decided to host a Halloween bingo competition during the first two nights of the celebration as an interactive way for the students to learn Halloween vocabulary words and practice their English.

“The bingo competition was standing room only,” Scholin said. “More than 175 kids came to play over the course of two days.”

During the final night of the celebration, students joined in a pumpkin-carving contest, costume contest and Halloween parade.
“I was very impressed by the costumes my kids came up with for the contest,” Scholin said. “They don't really sell Halloween costumes here, so the kids had to be extra creative. The celebration was a success!”
Scholin is a graduate of Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minn., and has been teaching English to primary school students in Macedonia since she was sworn-in as a Peace Corps volunteer in 2011.

Macedonian students pose during the costume contest.
 About Peace Corps/Macedonia: More than 500 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Macedonia since the program was established in 1996. Currently, approximately 101 volunteers serve in Macedonia. Volunteers work in the areas of English education and community and municipal development. Volunteers are trained and work in the Albanian and Macedonian languages.

About the Peace Corps: Since President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps by executive order on March 1, 1961, more than 210,000 Americans have served in 139 host countries. Today, 8,073 volunteers are working with local communities in 76 host countries in agriculture, community economic development, education, environment, health and youth in development. Peace Corps volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a 27-month commitment and the agency’s mission is to promote world peace and friendship and a better understanding between Americans and people of other countries. Visit for more information.