Sunday, June 12, 2016

Spring, Пролет, Volume II

"Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn." Benjamin Franklin

          Since the school year started in late January time has flown by. It's been one school project, event, volunteer gatherings, field trip, Easter and a return trip home. Here's an overview of what Spring has sprung for me.

          In February, things started off with our groups Mid-Service Training Conference, or MST.  We all gathered in Skopje to review our service and talk about our final six months. A few of the guys and I took advantage of the rare opportunity to all be together so we played basketball against some of the staff.  Also, my students and I made this birthday video for my brother. 

You can't have us Americans around without signs.
The staff organized a "happy hour" for us and Stacie decided to make a witches brew. 
Two volunteers I rarely get to see as they live on the border of Bulgaria, Andrea and Jared. 
Everyone chatting together.
Preparing for one of our many group sessions. 
The national arena. It hosts basketball and handball.
It was a three vs three best of three.
It was an interesting set of games since we played by American rules. I.e. you had to take the ball past the three point line if you rebounded on defense, Macedonian basketball doesn't do that which is incredibly frustrating. The Macedonian staff was quite surprised by our passing and defense since they don't have to do much of both.
Jones wanted one of those middle school team pictures.
Julia, my counterpart, another PCV and I met up with her family for a na gosti. 
The night view of Skopje wasn't bad either.
          Returning home it was back to having movie nights/Friday afternoons with the kids. 

The 4th and 5th graders watched Ice Age Meltdown.
Not a bad way to enjoy my last class for Friday.
Here Natasa helps her class out by picking their books from the library.
Of course we teachers got together before going out for some live music. 
My counterpart organized a class "field trip", or ескурзина, to a book binding store. There they learned how to prepare the materials and then made small books themselves.
After a brief demonstration we got to work.
They loved it too. 
Teadore, Andre and his twin brother Viktor.
One weekend we had people from the new group, Mak 20's, and ours get together in Ohrid. 
A rare opportunity to have several of us guys together. 
Got busy with some pool. 
Everything's better in black and white. 
One day I caught the "Razor" virus that was affecting us PCV's. Fortunately it was only contagious to men. After a couple weeks I was told, "You have permission to grow your awesome facial hair back." So I did.
More na gosti'ing. 


          March was filled with movie nights, presentations, school events and a trip to Skopje to watch the Batman/Superman movie. 

You can't have movie night with popcorn and snacks.
We watched Inside Out and it was a big hit.
During our animal lesson we watched Planet Earth and they had to describe the environment and animals.
One Saturday morning I was in Ohrid and smelled freshly mowed grass. I was instantly a bit homesick so I made pancakes and eggs. 
Out for dinner again. 
Julia, my counterpart, gave a presentation for International Women's Day about gender equality/inequality. 
Afterwards, she was given flowers. 
When my students told me they'd never heard of Carmen Sandiego, I quickly found a way to incorporate it into our lessons.
They were all blown away that she never gets caught. 
We snuck in a teacher's game one Friday afternoon.
Ohrid just never gets old. 
As you may remember from last year, YMLP was a highlight of my service so far. Here this year's staff got together to discuss recruitment and meet the new staff members. 
More work na gosti's. 
This is something I see every time I ride from my village to Ohrid. It's a tool shed with homework written on it. 
Alex's family came to visit Macedonia/Ohrid and kindly took us out for dinner. 
Now, this is the movie theater in Skopje that was playing Batman Vs. Superman.
It was my first time being in a movie theater since leaving the States.
One of my YMLP campers, Mihail, came with us. 

          Аs March slowly warmed into April I went on some hikes, my school had it's first Lakocerej Art Exhibition and we went to the Zoo on a Field Trip. 

One of the volunteers lives in a small village that's about over a couple of mountain from me. 

Brycen, the one in purple, showed us around his site.
It was a beautiful view and reminded me of the Smokies.

Cameron and his walking stick.
Myself, Cameron, Bryce and Brycen. 
          One night I was hanging out with my buddy Goce and his cousin. We were talking about places we'd been to or wanted to have here in Ohrid. I mentioned an art exhibition and thought, "I could do that at the school."  The next day, a Friday, I mentioned it to one of the homeroom teachers. When I came back to school on Monday her and several other teachers had already figured out when and how to make it happen. I was blown away by their enthusiasm for the idea.

Setting up the backdrop for the kids paintings.
We each took turns supervising the hammering.

Ready for the exhibition. 
The invitation for the parents to come out to the Exhibition and talk with the teachers. 
Everyone voted on their top three favorite pictures/paintings.
It was a bit hectic but after everything settled the finalists were chosen.
They earned prizes including a print of Van Gogh's Starry Night.
We also had our school year pictures taken too. Honestly, I'm surprised they got one photo of us paying attention, clearly this one was not it.
Ten of my students qualified for the Peace Corps Regional Spelling Bee in Struga. So we practiced after classes for several weeks. 
Then the big day came and one of my students made it through to the finals!
Bryce and I were the judges. He was pumped but to be fair it was early. 
Julia and I were proud of the kids and they enjoyed getting together outside of school with us.
Ohrid in Spring is a sight that never gets old.
Here some locals are enjoying a stroll. 

This is one of my favorite swimming spots.

Alex and I enjoyed some games at the court. 

          My school also took our students on a field trip to Skopje to visit one of the universities, the planetarium and the zoo. Click here for that post. 

You can see why so many tourists love to visit here.
This was one of the last times the beaches and city was empty before the tourist inundation. 

For one class I participated in their "interview show". Ane wasn't impressed with some of my answers. She's a sassy lady. 
On Easter day one of the cats had her kittens. 
Five little ones fit in my hand. 
The family thought they were cute but were surprised that I had them in the foyer instead of the garage. 
Part of the Orthodox tradition for Easter is to paint your egg holder. 
I wanted my guy to have some colors. 
Petar couldn't resist the icing and neither did I. 
The night before Easter we went out to celebrate. 
On Easter the village went to church.
We lit our candles and gave our private prayers for life, family and friends.
Our church is small enough that we don't sit we stand so everyone can fit. The men stand on the right and women on the left side. 
          The following day was in May and I was off to Skopje to get on a plane so I could fly home. It would be my first visit back to the States since coming to Macedonia. It wouldn't be just to see family but I was also going to be in one of my closest friends wedding. Those pictures, and my thoughts on returning to America, will be quickly published.  Ajde cao. 

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