The first 2-8 weeks at your permanent site are considered a honeymoon phase because everything is new, exciting, and interesting. Your ideals of changing the world and having a powerful experience still are prevalent and the cultural differences and tendencies are not rubbing you in the wrong way. At least not yet.
My Village, Pallchiste is a village of 800 houses, this is how my host father describes the village. The ethnicity in the village is 100 percent Albanian and the language spoken at the school, in the small stores, and on the street is Albanian–and yes I am still in Macedonia. My village has one restaurant that serves hamburgers, which women are allowed into during the day time. There is also a small store–shitore–that serves “toast”(this is melted kashkaval cheese or salami on toast) to students and kids during the school day. There are couple of other stores where you can buy some snacks and a couple of types of fruits and vegetables. Other than that, my village has 5 kafes where men go to at night to socialize and drink coffee. Women are NOT ALLOWED IN THESE KAFES EVER! There is also an outdoor basketball court and several Mosques that blast the call to prayer 5 times a day. I am in a conservative Muslim Village, but I am graced with a wonderful host family.
My village is right up against majestic mountains. No photo could ever do the beauty around me justice. You’ll just have to come visit if you want to see the beauty I am engulfed in. Its an odd balance of not comparing where I lived to Colorado. I can easily get lost in thought and slip into a homesick phase, which I want to prolong as long as possible.
Everyday I try to remind myself that my service is what I make of it. If I stay at home and write, or if I go out and socialize in Tetovo, it is completely up to me.
I am going to be teaching with four different teachers and will be teaching 21 different classes ranging from grades 2-8. I am going to see each student in the school once a week. The teachers wanted to share my methods and my teaching methods so that all the students and teachers could experience it. I demanded to not get over worked because I don’t want to spread myself too thin. I tend to do that anyways, to working a lot harder would just speed up the process.
Here is a picture of the athletic field outside of the school, it is a parking lot turned into a soccer field:
The classrooms have chalk boards and desks for the students. They are pretty well heated right now in the winter, but there is not air-conditioning, which I heard makes the spring and summer teaching a bit challenging.
And the front of the classroom:
So, I have made a schedule with all the teachers and I have made it a requirement to plan with me for an hour each week in order to have me in their classroom. This is a huge change for them and I am excited to see if I can change their perspective on teaching and how to successful prepare for lessons.
Yesterday I had a success:
One of my teacher’s English is about intermediate, but she really wants to work with me and pick up as many different activities, methods, and approaches. We had two classes with the same grade level back to back. I taught the first one with her, but I modeled the techniques. In the next lesson, she used all the teaching methods that I modeled. And ROCKED IT. I was grinning ear to ear and gave her a hug after the lesson and told her she killed it! I really feel like I am already having an impact on the teachers and it only has been two weeks with them.
I am trying to make sure I make small goals that doable so that I have something to work for.
My host father is fascinated with the English language and each day when I come home he opens up his Peace Corps notebook and asks me to teach him. His passion and pure interest in my culture and language is allowing me to feel valued already in the community and know that I do have a purpose here.
I have many ideas swimming around in my head. As you all know. I am a dreamer. And dream I will. I am just preparing myself for failure. Thank goodness I have failed many times in my life to prepare me for this journey! Sadly, my support system can’t be my loved ones back home all the time.
I am truly happy right now. And I feel like I am doing something that feels right in my heart. As my search for being content continues–I open my heart to my community and can’t wait to see what happens in the next 24 months.
Hobbies I am pursuing:
-I am running, some, these dogs are a bit crazy, but each run keeps a stressless smile on my face
-I may buy a guitar to entertain myself for the next 2 years
-Reading, I always go through slums and highs with reading and right now is a high. I am reading Catch 22 and Eat Pray Love (this one seems to be fitting my life more than I ever thought possible)
-I am trying to see if I can start a basketball club for the boys AND girls at my school. I’m not going to get my hopes up, but you never know.