Thursday, June 21, 2012

Thoughts of the Day

Watching a British show called "Living With the Amish" I discovered the Amish in the US have a more sophisticated way of washing clothes than I do.

The critter in my woodburning stove is still there. My solution, just make sure the openings are tightly shut.

Pizza Palma in Delchevo still has the best pastramalija I have had in country, despite what the people of Shtip say.

After battling through the great Balkan freeze, we are now in the midst of a great Balkan heatwave with warnings that there is so much more to come. Hooray for global warming.....not.

Packing for a month away from site is quite the challenge.

After making brownies from scratch the other night, I will never go back to the boxed ones.

If you ever want to make friends with children in your neighbourhood, request for decks of Uno cards to be sent from America. The children come back everyday asking to play.

Life is a Whirlwind

Ok, so it has been quite some time since I have updated, mostly because life has been so busy. Since my last post school has ended, language IST+ happened, I hosted an Uno party, and I now have a new special creature living in my wood burning stove.

As far as the special creature, there isn't much to say other than there is something that has taken up residence in my now not used wood burning stove. Many have suggested I smoke it out, but that would require me to have kindling to start a fire, so not much luck there. My neighbours would really look at me crazy if I explained to them that I want to start a fire in my house now.

The last day of school was June 8th. I had the opportunity to teach my last two days at school with the 4th graders. It was tough, but the kids managed to play vocabulary word B-I-N-G-O for prizes two days in a row. Tough job, but they were up to the challenge!

Today I hosted an Uno Party for some of the neighbour kids. The other day I taught two little girls how to play it. We played for four hours and they demanded more, so today, we had an Uno party. I had five of the neighbour kids over ranging from 8-years-old to 16-years-old. I served them some fresh oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and we played for another almost 3 hours with one game lasting about an hour! When the girls left today, they informed me that they would be at my house every day for the rest of the summer playing. Unfortunately for the kids, I am headed off on my month long summer camp venture soon, so they wont get to play for quite some time.

Finally, Language IST+ happened. I call it IST+ because IST was down in Struga, which is quite a way from my house and requires several days of travel on either end, so it ends up being quite the adventure. I headed out on my journey and stopped first in Shtip where I had a lovely time with one of the volunteers who lives there. Then I headed down to Shannon's village on the shores of Lake Ohrid. It was beautiful, as always. From there, we went across the lake to our hotel for IST just outside of Struga. It was a week full of fun, sun, and language. Most of the classes were created with fun in mind. I took a class on Macedonian slang, woman's talk, newspapers, man's talk, na kafe (where we learned to read our fortunes from Turkish coffee grounds), and an introductory course in Albanian.
One of the no-so-fun classes I took- Macedonian demonstrative prounouns
There was plenty of time outside of classes to catch up with the other volunteers in my group, go swimming (a few of us went swimming at night and despite the very cold water and the water snakes, it was a lot of fun), and celebrate Shannon's birthday in quite a fun way (Julie, in all of her energy and personality, made friends with the waiters early on so we convinced them to make Shannon a cake, turn off the electricity in the dining room, and walk out with the cake, lit tiki torches, and Kenzie on guitar while we all sang Happy Birthday). At IST we also had to do language presentations in groups and the Lozovo crew (minus 2) created Episode 17 of "Нема Мир во Лозово". It was filmed on my camera and hopefully I will get it posted soon. The presentations were a competition and the winning group (Probishtip -Dan, + other Dan) did an absolutely outstanding job reenacting and translating several movie scenes including rewriting the lyrics to Summer Love from Grease. Mad props to them for their hard work- we all were left speechless!
The epic love scene in "Нема Мир во Лозово"
Andres taught Shannon and I how to skip rocks
After IST, I spent a night with the Lozovo crew near Ohrid to continue celebrating Shannon's birthday. Because, once again, I was sick on my birthday- a yearly tradition, I was able to share the funfetti cake mix my mom had sent for my birthday with lots of good friends (a much better use).
Shannon and Julie were the expert decorators. The middle cupcakes spell out Shannon's name and then the other letters are the first initial of everyone who was there.
And then one more night in Shannon's. While there, Shannon and I hiked to one of the coves she knows of on Lake Ohrid and spent the afternoon getting a little sunburned (despite lots of sunscreen), swimming, talking, and witnessing a man doing something that he really should have kept private (but hey, its a story for sure)! We also got to see some gorgeous sunsets, something Shannon sees on a regular basis (kinda jealous).

In just a few days I will be headed off to be the Environmental facilitator for the Young Mens Leadership Project summer camp followed immediately to Camp GLOW (Girls Leading Our World) to be a counselor and soon a trip to Istanbul, maybe Varna, and another summer camp for my kids. I feel like the summer is already gone before it has really started! Before I know it, it will be September and my parents will be here.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Kids Say the Darndest Things

Teacher: Macedonia, Bulgaria, Greece, Serbia, Albania- what are these?
Student: Коњи? (Horses?)

Teacher (pointing to the Leaning Tower of Pisa): This is the Leaning Tower of _________?
Student: Mona Lisa!

Student: Whores riding a bike.
Teacher: What?! Oh, I think you mean who's.
Student: Yeah, whores riding a bike.

Sara: Number 17
(student runs to the front of the room while the other kids are yelling "no")
Teacher: What number are you?
Student: седум (7)
Teacher: Sara said 17 and you are number 7.
Student: Јас сум блиску. (The Macedonian equivalent to "close enough")

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)