Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Kiril i Metodij Celebration

May 24th, the day of saints Kiril i Metodij (the creators of the Cyrillic alphabet), is a big holiday across Macedonia, however, my town knows how to do the day right. The school where I worked is named after these two brothers and recently we just had a name change to include the "saint" aspect into the school's name. With the new name change came new school logos and everything with the school name had to be reprinted, just to include Св (the Cyrillic abbreviation for saints).

On May 24th, everyone has off work to celebrate, however, because it is my school's Patron's Day, some of the teachers worked a little, helping put on a school performance and the local Opstina had several employees working quite a bit. Their hard work, however, made for quite an enjoyable day for the viewers of this spectacular event. I will let pictures do the rest of the talking.

Some of the preschoolers I worked with at the kindergarten/daycare
Getting ready to perform a traditional dance
The choir- quite a few of these girls are my 6th graders
Brothers Cyril and Methodius, the creators of the Cyrillic alphabet (or adorable children dressed up as such)
A play by the youngins about the importance of learning the alphabet. This was one of my favourite acts of the show because I was able to understand it all, thus proving my fluency in Macedonian is at the level of a 1st grader.
Some of my 6th grader girls reciting a piece about the alphabet
A couple of my 4th grade girls recited a piece about the alphabet as well
More 4th graders
And a play by my 6th graders. I didn't understand a whole lot of what was going on here- they were speaking super fast.
Traditional Oro dancing

The opener's opener- a group from Kochani I believe called Shine
The opener- Dani who is supposedly a famous Macedonian pop star
Some of my students posing with Dani
The main star, Vlado Janevski, with some of my students. The openers had live music. This guy sang along to a CD player that I think had the words as well so if he forgot the lyrics.....
And despite the concert finishing around 11pm after events had been going on since 1:00, the day wasn't complete without a mini fireworks display. I think I will have many other PCVs coming to celebrate this day in my town next year!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

How to Wish Someone a Happy Birthday

This post really will mean nothing to most of you, however, it is an important post none-the-less. Today is one of my friend's birthdays. I made it my mission, to wish him a Happy Birthday as many different ways as possible.

The ways in which I have wished Jason a Happy Birthday
  1. Text- Jason received a Good Morning/Happy Birthday/Merry Tajmiste text this morning
  2. Facebook- Following a text, his Facebook wall was graced with the traditional, "Happy Birthday" greeting.
  3. Skype- Skype was the next method of communication (the message is still pending as Jason has not been online, but I think it counts)
  4. Google +- A not as well known form of social networking, but Google is taking over the world, so why not!
  5. Twitter- This one took a little bit of work as I never use my Twitter and was not following Jason. However, after some research, I remedied that situation.
  6. Email- Why I hadn't done this method earlier in the day, I don't know!
  7. Phone Call- I saved the phone call until I knew the boys would be out celebrating and that they were. While wishing him a Happy Birthday I was serenaded with "Tiny Dancer".
  8. Card- While I have am not going to see Jason today, I made him a birthday card today (this counts too).
  9. Dropbox- Jason and I have been sharing random fun facts with each other, so Jason received a Dropbox document with fun birthday facts.
  10. Blogger- Finally, check out below....
(Peace Corps Volunteers are very good at coming up with activities to entertain themselves on slow days!)

Monday, May 21, 2012

A- musings

One of my counterparts logged onto her computer while connected to a projector today. There was an internet tab open from YouTube entitled: "How to use my new BANANA CUTTER". 1) Not quite sure why you would own one of these, 2) I would hope the operation would be pretty self-explanatory, 3) Proof there is a product out there for everything. You can own one for only $1.69!

The older ladies at school were talking about American politics during break. They asked me if I was going to vote for Obama. Before I could answer they told me I should because Michelle Obama is like a princess. They then told me that because she is so beautiful her husband can be trusted. Sound logic for sure. And believe it or not, you can't find a photograph on the internet of Michelle Obama wearing a crown. 

I made a kid cry today by my reading of a "scary" story they wrote. Clearly I am far more animated when I read than the children are used to.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Myths Busted

10 Common Misconceptions

1) Just because Americans have the steering wheel on the left side of the car does not mean we are all left-handed. I am, in fact, right handed. (4th grade)

2) Africa is not a country, but rather a continent. (Adult)

3) When I go to Skopje, I am sorry to report, I do not hang out with the U.S. Ambassador, nor do I have slumber parties at his house. (Adult)

4) Jesus Christ's name in English is Jesus Christ, not Jason Christ. (6th grade)

5) America is not a perfect place with no problems. (Adult)

6) While yes they are doing soem work, students cheating from the internet actually isn't a good thing. Just because they copy it, does not mean they understand it- although I wish it worked that way! (Adult)

7) I know western medicine often focuses on medications, however, usually, these are more effective than sugar and rakija. I am sorry to report that sugar will not cure your cancer. (Adult)

8) Despite growing up half way around the world, I am not that different than you. I may speak "funny", dress different, or do "weird" things, but I don't have a third arm, fly, or melt when I get wet. (7th grade)

9) As much as I wish this was true, chocolate does not build muscles. (Adult)

10) Yes I speak English. No, I am not an expert on British English or the Scottish holiday Burns Night. (Adult)

Friday, May 11, 2012

Fancy Feet

The other night I watched old people move like I have never seen them move. I went with one of my neighbours to watch her Oro dancing group practice. Oro is the traditional dance here in Macedonia.
The Wikipedia page says, "The Republic of Macedonia uses the Cyrillic spelling of "oro" (Cyrillic: Opo). The origins of Macedonian oro vary from its use in socializing and celebrating, to historical dancing before going into battle. Teshkoto, translated "The difficult one", is one of those, danced by men only, and the music of which reflects the sorrow and mood of war. The oro is danced in a circle, with men and women holding one another by hand. They are used to celebrate occasions such as weddings, christenings, name-days, national and religious holidays, graduations, birthdays."
People here dance the Oro at every major event. At weddings and graduations, they will dance the Oro for hours and hours (like 8 hours) on end. To the untrained eye, they all look pretty similar, however, I have been told there are over 100 different Oro dances. People are always shocked when I tell them that we don't dance the Oro in America because that is really the only popular dancing that is done here.

We got to the theater a little early so I could see some of the kids practicing first. I have had quite a few of them in my classes and the moment I walked in, the girls were all commenting to each other on how I had come to watch.  I felt like I should apologize to their teacher as the girls weren't really paying attention to him anymore!

Then I got to see the amazing fast feet of the babas and dedos (grandmas and grandpas). Granted many of them were just a few years older than my parents and they have been doing this since they were born practically, I was never the less impressed by their skills. For the adults, they had live music, which was really fun to listen to. I wish I could post more videos, but it has taken days just to get these couple up!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

First of May in Macedonia

The first of May, (1ви Мај) is a big day here in Macedonia. It is the Macedonian version of Labor Day and is celebrated pretty much exactly as Labor Day is celebrated in the US. Most people don't have to work, there is no school, and just about everyone spends the day outside- walking, grilling, having a picnic, listening to music, etc. It is a day for relaxing. For weeks people had been asking me what I was going to do for the 1st of May and where I would be. After considering several invitations, I decided I wanted to spend the day at home with some of my neighbours and it was a great choice. I ended up going on four different na gostis, ate lots of good food, and took lots of pictures with my neighbour girls (side note: if you ever need a way to befriend Macedonian teenage girls, bring your camera and let them take pictures and take pictures with you- they gain instant popularity by having pictures with you on Facebook!). Here are some of the photos from the day. The girl in the black dress is my neighbour Simona and the other girl, in the shirt with dots is her sister Marija.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Moving? Bulgaria?

This week has been filled with great things. On Tuesday, we celebrated the 1st of May, or the Macedonian version of Labor Day (a whole post with pictures on this to come).

Yesterday one of my friends here found me a couple places to look so that I can move from my current house. I was able to check one of them out. I would classify it as a semi-homestay. I would have one big room that has a mini kitchen, table and chairs, sitting area, several couches (the standard Macedonian bed), and a balcony. I would have a shared bathroom and the landlord's bedroom is right across the hall. I like living on my own and I want to continue doing that, however, my current place is too expensive, so I am willing to make some concessions. One of the best parts is that it is literally 2 minutes from school instead of 15. I would still have a wood-burning stove for heating, but because the landlady is retired, she said if I wanted she would build me a fire each day so it would be warm all the time. She also offered to cook for me and give me fruits and vegetables from her garden. I still have one other place I am going to look at, but it looks like I will be moving next month! I am very excited about this.

Other big news came yesterday in that our Country Director approved for another volunteer and I to take Business Leave (meaning no vacation days need to be used) to go to Sofia, Bulgaria this next weekend for their National Spelling Bee. We will have a chance to observe their structure and talk with the PCVs who run their event about how they do it so we can get new ideas from them and work on improving our Bee. We will be there 4 days. In addition, I might also get to see one of my best friends from high school who is a PCV there. She will be finishing her service and leaving in July, so we have been trying to figure out a time when we can get together.

This weekend I am headed to Stip for the Macedonian Model United Nations Conference. The weather is now gorgeous, bordering on hot some days. Life is busy here, but that is the way it should be!

Finally, a few kid quotes:

Teacher: This country is where men wear skirts and play the bagpipes. The capitol is Glasgow.
Student 1: Cowboys?
Teacher: No. This place is in Europe.
Student 2: Texas?
(Apparently Scotland is now located in Texas and is home to the cowboys)

Student: I am going to mate with Superman tonight.
Teacher: Ah.... I think you mean "meet", not "mate".

Assignment: Guess what the people in these sentences are doing. Use "going to".
Sentence: Tom's making a shopping list.
Student's guess: He is going to give the list to his small brother and make him go to the store.
(Other students had answers like, He is going to go to the store. This would be my best English student who right after started talking about demonstrative pronouns. *I just had to Google what these were*)