Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Circus Came to Town

Da-da-dada-da-da-da-da-dada.....There has been an international circus, Circus Safari, that has been touring around Macedonia and the other weekend it came to Shtip. Despite having lots of other things to do, including cooking for our adult dinner party later in the day, I begged Phil to take me to the circus and he obliged (just like any good boy should do) and we set off through the rain to the circus. As we pulled up outside the big red and white tent, my excitement grew (as Phil can attest to, I was pretty excited and may or may not have been bouncing up and down a little bit) and I could only imagine what an Eastern European circus would look like. I have been to the circus before in the US, the last time being about 5 years ago when I chaperoned a group of children there, but I figured since it was in Macedonia, it wouldn't be quite the same. We walked into the tent and lets just say this circus resembled the ones from my childhood that were held in the local armory with a very "small town" feel. As we climbed up the bleachers to sit down, we tossed around a few potential newspaper headlines such as, "2 Americans dead after circus bleachers collapse" and "Americans mauled in Macedonia by rogue lions" (Clearly since I am writing this though, we made it out just fine). I saw lions and horses, elephants and camels and instantly returned to a child-like state of enthusiasm.

Again, pictures will do a better job showing what it was like than my words, so ladies and gentleman, sit back, relax, enjoy the show, and welcome to the greatest show on earth!

The sky may have been cloudy, but the tent caught my eye right away.
This was what we saw when we walked in.
There were lions performing in "Lion School"
They rested their paws on the "cage" walls and they all shook- hence the "mauled by rogue lions" newspaper headline.
The acrobatics were hard to capture, but this was a young rope acrobat.
The first clown I have seen who didn't creep me out. I think it had something to do with very little makeup and overall normal clothing. He was from Israel and traveling with a Romanian ringmaster and other circus performers from all over the world.
A ring acrobat.
There were horses who jumped through hoops....
....and posed on platforms.

This lady danced, climbed into big cloth pillowcases and changed her clothes.
Another acrobat, this time using only silk.
What circus is a circus without a camel!
After some mascot bull fighting, the mascots and clown started to dance to "Move it" from Madagascar.
All of the kids in the audience joined in a large train and dance party.
Last but not least, the elephants came out. Notice there is no real fencing keeping them in the ring. At this point, the kids were getting restless and in true Macedonian fashion, parents weren't really disciplining their kids so they were running around. The ringmaster announced at least 20 times for parents to keep their kids sitting next to them and for the kids to not scream- didn't really help. Oh MK.
Because of the chaos of the audience at this point, and the fact that elephants are massive creatures that you shouldn't spook, they said no taking photos, this was just so cool though, I managed to discretely snag a photo without the flash. Its a little hard to see, but one elephant is resting his front two legs on the other elephant's back and the elephant trainer has been raised into the air by the trunk of the elephant.
After attending the circus I was asked how it was. My response, it was pretty awesome. I mean it is a small-scale, low budget traveling circus so the acts weren't that crazy, but how many people can say they saw an international traveling circus in Macedonia?!

Friday, November 2, 2012

A Macedonian/American Halloween Celebration

So once again I disappeared for a little while- the ghosts, ghouls, and witches of Halloween captured me and took me off to Halloweentown: Macedonian/American style. A few weeks before Halloween a few of the 7th grade girls approached me asking if I could organize something for Halloween. I said, sure, and little did I know what I was getting myself into! I decided to do Halloween activities for the 5th-8th graders and soon realized that that meant about 400 kids. I knew there was no way to do one big event for them all, since there wasn't much time to plan, so I organized three after school activities. On Monday the kids were going to make Halloween decorations, Tuesday we would play Halloween BINGO, and Wednesday we would have a little Halloween party. I had originally wanted to carve pumpkins because that is a big part of American Halloween, but I didn't really want to have to deal with kids and knives and be responsible for them. I decided I would let 50 kids come during two time slots each day, meaning 100 kids a day. However, when it came time for kids to sign up, we had a complete disaster and my counterpart and I looked at each other and realized it wasn't going to work. We quickly changed it to Halloween BINGO on Monday and Tuesday and an evening costume contest and pumpkin contest on Wednesday. Doesn't sound too hard, but this was now less than one week before Halloween.

Long story short, I worked with two other teachers and we managed to put together an alright 3-day Halloween celebration for the kids at my school as well as some community members too. There were lots of hiccups along the way and lots of things we would do different, and will do differently next year for what has already been decided a bigger, better, and more organized town wide Halloween celebration.

5th graders eager to win BINGO!
8th grade girls hoping to win some prizes.
BINGO was standing room only- over 175 kids came to play BINGO over the course of two days.
7th grade girls looking for a "black cat", "vampire", or "mad scientist".
7th grade boys sitting three on two chairs because there wasn't enough space.

6th graders waiting intently for the next word.
Being a PCV makes you an automatic celebrity. My picture was taken with almost every kid there- in groups and individually.
The kids here pretty much only know one costume- ghoul/witch/zombie combined. But they sure looked good!
I was pretty impressed by the costumes my kids came up with.
We got about 20 pumpkins, which was way more than I thought! The one with green hair won 2nd place.
The cool thing these kids did, which I never did in the US, is lots of them attached chains to the pumpkin so they could be carried along during our Halloween parade through the streets.
My three fabulous, amazing, wonderful, 8th graders who served as MCs during the event. Despite the microphone not coming last minute so no one could hear them, they were fantastic!
My other helper of the night- a 7th grader who was willing to jump in and do whatever was necessary.
Kids lined up for the costume contest.
Somewhere between 100 and 150 kids participated in the costume contest.
My favourite part of the costumes the kids wore was that it was all just stuff they had at home. They don't really sell Halloween costumes here, so the kids had to be extra creative.
More costume contest kids.
The winner of the best costume. Those are actual zippers attached to her face.
This girl appeared just after the judging for the costume contest had taken place, otherwise I think she definitely would have taken the prize for scariest costume.
Batgirl and Candygirl
Overall, I think I had close to 500 kids come to my Halloween activities and a fair number of citizens came out to watch the Halloween parade. I call it, despite the mishaps, a successful event, and one I am so glad is over!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Best Present a PCV Could Ask For

So there are millions of things right now I need to blog about, especially since it has been awhile, and I was all set to write a post today. I had picked out my topic and started thinking about what I was going to write while I was getting ready for school this morning. However, this is Macedonia, and things change last minute all the time.

When I got to school today, my head was busy spinning with a list of things I needed to accomplish today, but I was stopped in my tracks by a package at my spot in the teacher's lounge. I had received a package from America. I saw that it came from St. Peter and got very excited. While I love packages and letters from anywhere, getting one from the St. Peter Rec is extra exciting because you never know what will be included, but it is always awesome.

I couldn't contain my enthusiasm and ripped into the package right away.

I feel so lucky to still be a part of the Rec Staff even when I live 5000+ miles away!
They made it Anders. You beat the Rec Staff and they didn't eat my treats.
I haven't tried them yet Cado, but if you like them, I am sure I will too! In the process of writing, I got hungry. They are delicious Cado! Good choice.
Seemed only fitting to show off my new MN stapler next to my MN Twins pennant that was passed down by a MN PCV who is leaving shortly.

It took me a little bit to figure out what it spelled (in my first attempt I spelled the words: women, is, and Sara, but there were letters left over. Then I realized there was a sheet of paper included telling me what it spelled.)
I have new door decorations courtesy of Create-A-Camp (or that's my guess!)
I am sure to stay healthy now.
Kids' writing is the best ever. Thanks Cado. I miss you and wish you could come hang out in Macedonia with me!
 I discovered all of this while I was at school. Totally great care package. However, there was also a flashdrive in it and I didn't fully discover the greatness this package contained until I got home and opened up the flashdrive. On it, was a letter from a friend, some audio books and a new CD, and the most amazing folder ever: "Friends at Home and Abroad".

I received photo messages from about 30 of my best friends and family back home. You couldn't ask for a better gift. To any PCV parents/friends out there looking for an idea to send your PCV, this tops the list as best things ever.

I would love to include all the photo messages on here, but there is at least one that contains a secret. But I will include a few examples so you understand just how awesome these were to receive.
St. Peter Rec Staff- Part A
John and Lindsey in Florida
Siu On in Australia
Anders: Creator of this
Lindz: No longer an Austin resident

Part of the Pizza Pub Family
This is just the start of my thank you to you all.
- Anders: Thank you so much for putting this together for me. It really is the best gift I could have been given. I am hoping to avoid having to eat too many organs this year.
- Dad: Well, you have come and gone and hopefully the pivo was cool enough for you!
- PC Pizza Crew: You guys are the best family a girl could ask for. I promise that while I may not stay in Pine for long when I return, I will come enjoy a Friday night with you all.
- Carly and CJ: Glad to see you are filling your desire for children with cats until Car has finished school! If you don't make it to visit me here, we will see each other when I return.
- Chris and Erin: While returning home through Seattle isn't exactly convenient and practical, perhaps Chris can make me a special airplane so I can do that!
- Heidi: Hooray! I need details (well not too many details) soon.
- Jake and Sarah: Thank you so much! I hope married life is going well and am kinda looking forward to when there are little Jacobs running around.
- Jane: My summer wasn't the same without the Rec either. My goal is by next summer to have my own Rec Dept up and running here. I think you need to talk to Todd about having the City pay to fly you, Lance, and Heidi in to help get it started.
- John and Lindsey: I think you two just wanted to show off your gorgeous sunsets down there in Florida!
- Mom: You just reminded me that I really should dust my new place. more thing for the to-do list!
- Lance: The hello looks about right! With all your facial hair you would fit in as a PCV. Say hello to your kiddos for me. Also, is it your fault Snake is dead?
- Lindz: I hopefully will have better internet soon and then we will chat for hours as we have a lot to catch up on.
- Riley and Laura: Thanks for the well wishes. Congrats Laura on the new Esq. title!
- Siu On: I am so glad you are out exploring the world too. If you end up in Eastern Europe in the next year, let me know! Also, I highly recommend Istanbul to put on your travel list.
- Rec Girls: I hope you held a funeral for Snakezilla. What did y'all do with the body? Throw him in the garbage? Flush him? While I wish you had a better summer, I am glad you all survived. I miss you all greatly and hope your school years are going well. Unfortunately, while I have vacation days, I don't think I will be back for the wedding. Flights are a little expensive. But I will definitely look at pictures on Facebook!

This made one little saying that the Gusties will know come to mind (it may be used for cheers-ing while drinking, but I think it still fits).
Friends may come and friends may go
Friends may peter out we know
We've been friends through thick and thin
peter out...
or peter in

Ви благодарам многу. Јас имам најдобрите пријатели.