Today and the pass couple of days, my host mother has opened up her heart. Her father is very sick, very, very sick with cancer. She is having a hard time because she wants to be with him for his last days, but she has to stay at her house to take care of her family and house. I can only comfort and tell her that I pray for her father (even if I am not sure what is out there). I constantly tell her: “Une deshire per baba juaj mire shundet.” (I wish for your father good health.) Although my language has progressed so much in the past two months in Albanian and Macedonian, I still don’t know how to culturally approach this situation. The thing I can show, always, is compassion. I can hug her, I can say I any praying for her father, and I also can tell her I am here for her–after all I am her daughter.
I want to show her love because for the past two months she has given me nothing, but love. What am I here for? Why is the Peace Corps in Macedonia? It was today I understood. I may be here to help the school system, to help the ethnic tensions at times, but most of all I am here for the relationships and to share my compassion.
Some days are overwhelming. I want to help everyone and help with everything, but ultimately I need to slow down and just really savor the relationships I make. I honestly don’t want to leave this host family. They have been so kind to me and I truly feel like a daughter and sister. Imagine trying to find families willing to host someone they have never met before in the United States. It takes a rare and wonderful person to open up their home and embrace another human-being.
My site visit was very eye-opening. The school needs me and my new host sister is sky high to have a sister in her life. I know it is going to be a challenging next two years, but I can’t get too ahead of myself. I want to savor these relationships and savor them I will. My new family has a grand house and a grand view of the mountains surrounding the village. I hope to have a positive, but challenging experience with this new family! View from my new house:
Every time I learn a new word they celebrate my successes and always say how much my Albanian has improved. I can’t express how thankful I am for having such an amazing family. No matter what happens in the next two years, I want to stay in touch with this family and visit them often. They took me in–bright-eyed and bushy-tailed–and then saw me grow into the culture and language. My family in Rromanli is the best. Familja ima ne Rromali eshte me e mira.
Me trying to do some yoga at Lake Matka:
The past two weekends I have spent exploring the outdoor world of Macedonia. I hiked the highest mountain in the Skopje area,–Mount Vodno–which is about 3,000ft above sea level. I also explored one of Macedonia’s jewels Lake Matka (matka is Macedonian for womb). This river and lake is absolutely gorgeous and gave all the volunteers with me a fresh break from the 24/7 job of being a volunteer. I am so grateful for my placement. I have so much hiking and exploring and the end of my fingertips. Sometimes I wish I could have had an African experience, and then I remember how my I have learned about myself and the two cultures around me that I am slapped in the face with a thankful perspective.
In the woods I find my compassion. In the woods I find my patience. In the woods I find my love for this country. And, in the woods I understand why I am a Peace Corps Volunteer.
A group of volunteers on top of Mount Vodno: