It is spring now. The sun has a habit of showing its face between multiple rainy/cloudy days. On the occasion that we have sun I love going out. It seems like the town comes alive, small children can be seen playing in the square on little electric cars like the Barbie cars I saw as a child. The older kids go around in roller blades, bikes, or walk around eating sunflower seeds. The park is covered with seed shells by the end of the day. I still try to go to the Pazar every Saturday with my host mom. We walk around, chat with her friends and, for example, today we sat and enjoyed the beautiful weather and drank a drink called Boza, a type of fermented soda. I know it sounds strange, but I love it.
As you might be able to guess, my mood is significantly better and more fruitful with the weather. Growing up in a warm environment and experiencing my first real winter in a long time made me realize how difficult it is for me to survive wintertime. No more slow mood. It is nice out. The town is instantly more active and more beautiful.
We celebrated my host father’s name day, Todoritsa, with many many family members. It also happens to be the town’s name day and several vendors from all over were selling clothes and other household items. We walked around the area, I bought some pants, and went home to prepare for the guests. There was food, fun, and plenty of wine.
We hosted our local spelling bee and had several students to take to the National Bee. The local bee went off with no hitches, and besides a minor confusion with bussing the students went to the national bee, with one fifth grader continuing to the final round. The students came back with stories about their trip to the capital, posting pictures of themselves and their certificates onto facebook, and an experience that I hope they will be able to do all over again.
The new activity on my agenda has been Camp Glow. I am excited to get underway. I made a trip to Skopje to meet the other counselors and teachers and begin planning for our camp. It will start in late June and will have high school girls who identify as ethnically Macedonian, Albanian, or Turkish. They will be learning about leadership skills, teamwork, self-esteem and body confidence. I will be co-teaching a Mural Art class, as well as a Self-esteem and body issues class. It will be a ton of fun, Ill follow up about that after the camp finishes.
We had an in-service training in Skopje and had the time to go adventure around. It was great to see all the other volunteers and meet some of their counterparts. I think a lot was taken from the training, with a focus on working with our counterparts. I felt like I was able to get to know my counterpart better and get to know a lot of the PCV’s better. After the training, we had the National Spelling bee the volunteers and especially the planners worked incredibly hard to pull off the event.
We have had a few holidays recently, May first is a day where nearly everyone in this town goes to the mountain top to have a barbeque. I was able to go with Lizzy, Maja, Zoki, and their friends and we had a day of eating, drinking, and cows. It was another experience to add to the list and the multitude of meat and beer reminded me of our 4th of July celebrations.
One of the most important things to me as I have lived in this community is developing relationships with many of the people here. I have strong friendships with Lizzy and Dan, as they are Americans and often I have things to complain about, to discuss, to understand, or to laugh about that only they can understand. As an American in a completely different cultural climate, there are often many of these conversations to have. Lizzy, at the time of me writing this, has just gone back to America and it has been difficult to lose my good female friend here at site. Part of the reason I have a reputation of never leaving site is because I have had such amazing sitemates.
Since I had known of her impending departure date, I think I emotionally prepared myself for her leaving. Mentally, it is hard to know that you prepare for most of your relationships to not necessarily end but to change indefinitely. I have maintained very few of my friendships from high school, from college, from old romances. It is a bad habit to become completely comfortable with understanding these relationships will change or end, but I guess that is a part of reality and a part of the ever-changing lifestyle I have chosen. I have spent a lot of time thinking about how my life here is so much different than many of the people who still reside in America.
Continued in next update....