One School Year to Impact
This year I have found myself very, very busy everyday and crawling into bed happy on how much I am helping at my school. One of the Macedonian teachers at the school pulled me aside today and personally thanked me for all the work I have done and will be doing this year. He told me I am a special person to be focusing on helping all the teachers, students, and community members. The love I feel when I entire my two schools is that of a super star of some sort. This thank you from this teacher that does not speak any English gave me the confidence and energy to continue going. I know my actions are appreciated and I hope to leave a mark that will keep teachers motivated to teach.
One of the projects that I have just started implementing is the recycling of plastic bottles. The idea behind this is to keep plastic bottles from being thrown into the river and streets and instead make a small profit on the bottles. One teacher two weeks ago complained to me that they have to pay for their own copies and bring their own paper to the school. I decided that this plastic bottle recycling will allow the school to have some money for paper. Teachers shouldn’t have to go to Tetovo (a 25 minute kombi ride) just to get some copies for their class. Instead this environmentally friendly movement will allow teachers to access paper from a green action. I hope over time to implement a paper recycling too where at least the other side of a page can be reprinted on. The teachers and students are behind this recycling because it is really easy.
Another project I am working on is trying to get a resource room for all the teachers in the school. Ideally I would love to have a smart board projector and more English books. It would be great to expand to Albanian books so that the reading level of the students could be expanded and worked on throughout the school year. This classroom that already has computers can be used by all the teachers and allow them all to have hands-on/technology classes. Right now we are using the classroom for power point presentations and getting the students excited for the potential here. So far one community member has donated bookshelves, another will be donating his time to paint, and the school will be buying paint for the resource room. Everything seems to be going well in wonderful happy way!
With this resource room, we are starting a school fundraiser. One class every Friday will bring baked goods from home and sell them at the bake-sale. All the other students in the school will buy these baked goods instead of going to the local store. This will allow us to acquire money slowly over time for the lab. This resource lab, if we get the funding for it, will need to have at least 30 % contribution from the community. I want to start these actions so that it illustrates the motivation in my community.
In addition, I am continuing with girls and boys basketball. Boys basketball has not met yet because they have been behaving badly every time we attempt to practice with the girls. There are less girls this year but who knows what’ll happen as the year progresses.
I have started a running club at my school which is adored and celebrated. All the students want to run around with me and have a blast together.
The other huge project one of my counterparts and I have started is having a school play. This has been a stressful, but successful endeavor. The plan is to perform the play this December at a private school in Tetovo. We are acting Peter Pan and I already see a huge progress in all the students’ English inside and outside of class. The trick will be costumes, but I am hoping they just work out in the end. Luckily my counterpart is really invested in this and will hopefully do a play after I leave–some level of sustainability.
My focus this year has been really giving it my all every school day and seeing what I could do that would be sustainable. I have fully implemented a grading system–engrade–and hope to implement it with the rest of the school.
In other news I just spent the last weekend celebrating Bajram with my tutor and best friend and her family. I got to experience Bajram with a half Macedonian, half Albanian family. I thoroughly enjoyed it and got to learn some different saying in Macedonian. This family has meant everything to me with teaching me how to make the creamy treleche, the sweet baklava, and the ever so spicy ajvar. I honestly feel like I could hang with them the rest of my life and I hope the two sisters I have grown to love I will stay friends with for the rest of my life: Gona and Dika.