A saying I didn’t hear often in the United States seems to be something I hear daily now. It is something that alines with my experiences thus far in the Peace Corps. “When it rains, it pours.” This saying seems to align very well with everything going on in my life. The opposite phrase seems to be true too. “When it shines, it shines brightly.” The highs and lows in the Peace Corps are very extreme, and are a lot to process for an overwhelmed and over stimulated individual.
In breaking news, I have acquired a local friend that is not associated with my school OR my host family. Antigona is a 22 year old brilliant young woman who thinks very liberal and advanced for her age. We met at a mysafir (guest gathering) and have been to coffee. Our conversations are full of controversial issues and topics I wouldn’t feel comfortable discussing with a lot of locals. Antigona is applying to Law School in the United States right now. She just got offered a full ride scholarship to a school in Ohio. I am thrilled beyond belief for her. I edited her letter to the University on why she wanted to go to Law School. Her passion and love for serving others is delightful. It is refreshing to see someone so sincere and honest pursue in the field of law. So many people these days get lost in the politics and face masks that the care and enthusiasm is left behind.
“In the past month the weather seems to be persistent on giving the earth water: constantly.” This phrase was written by one of my darling students. He has a way with words sometimes that really makes you think about how weather is perceived. It has been a very rainy month or two indeed. This winter was very dry and warm and thus, the weather comes back for a wet spring. Talking about weather seems to be a safe topic to talk to anyone about. It is something that I can talk to a volunteer, a teacher, a staff member, or a host country national about and not worry about what the end result may be. Some may call it small talk, but I call it building talk. Every time I talk to someone, whether it be the weather or how they are doing. it matters–at least in my community. This change in the weather dramatically has allowed me to slow down and have a little deeper conversations with some of the women in my community. Now, I am not talking about earth shattering conversations that leave everyone wondering about the meaning of life, but they are a little deeper than “Hey, how are you? I’m good, how are you?” Those conversations seem to be standard in any culture (at least any culture I have been able to set into for a bit). Adding an element of, “this weather” and “why do you think it is raining so much?” allows the individual I am talking to feel like they are able to explain a little bit. Just a little bit more.
Some of the responses to my “Why do you think it is raining so much?” has been an interesting turn out. Some people say it is because of the lack of snow, lack of a winter, or lack of moisture. Others seem keen on connecting the weather pattern with God/Allah and explaining that it is God’s handy work and we mustn’t question his work. Then others skip the explanation and explain how it is great for the crops and terrible for construction workers. Though, my favorite answer thus far has been from one of my students–the best answers always seem to come from them–“Teacher Kelly, it has been raining so much because my brother has been bad and Allah wanted to punish him so he wouldn’t be able to play football for a while.” I almost died from laughing so hard the sincerity in the student’s voice was almost too much.
In other news, I am hanging in there. Chilling in Skopje for a bit and resting up. Sometimes I don’t know when to stop and I push myself a little too hard.
Recently I went on an adventure to Greece with two friends. We tried to summit Mount Olympus and didn’t succeed because the snowy terrain was becoming to dangerous. I also was able to blissfully hike from the top of Mount Vodno (near the capital Skopje) to the wonderful lake Matka (a beautiful natural area). This was a 8-10 mile trek that involved a lot of breaks and eating on a ridge top over Skopje. Lately I have been able to explore the beautiful nature around me and I have been ever so grateful. This past weekend, due to some sickness, I wasn’t able to run the half marathon I trained for. Instead I was able to cheer on my fellow volunteers as they ran great distances and photograph their efforts. As bitter as I was when I found out I wouldn’t be able to run the half marathon, it was surprisingly delightful to cheer on volunteers knowing next year I would be able to face that same race healthy.
As fitting as the title, it is raining outside. But surely, the change in the weather will occur and I will see some sun later.