Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Time

My time in Kratovo is drawing to a close, and whoa, what a ride this first three months has been.  Since the day we got to Macedonia, Peace Corps has inundated us with training after training, class after class, session after session, meeting after meeting in order to prepare us for our first three months at site.  Though we all pretty much still speak the language at the level of a 5th grader, I feel otherwise 'prepared' in all other departments. 
The other night, as I sat on the deck with my host mama star gazing and talking about the differences in the celebrations of Christmas and New Year’s between our cultures, I thought, “Why haven’t I done this more often?” It was beautiful out.  I didn’t need a coat. The stars were in quite good force, the moon was lighting every roof on the mountain, and the fog was thinly rolling over the hillsides.  I could actually hear the wind whipping up the crevasses in the mountain because there was absolutely no other sound to take its place.  I wish I could remember more than 20% of my astronomy education from 8th grade.  There have been a few moments that have reminded me of home since I’ve been here, and this was one of them.  I told my mama about Montana and how beautiful it is, and what about Kratovo reminds me of home.  I always think about the moment that I was in NYC when I was in high school and realized I had not yet seen one clean body of water or one star in the sky, and knew that I would never under appreciate my home and place of origin for the rest of my life.  I may love the city and everything it has to offer, but my soul requires nature, and lots of it. And I would gladly trade the sounds of human chaos for the sounds that the earth makes on its own.  Here is where I could go off on a hippie-like-tree-hugging rage against greedy humans and corporate destruction, but I think most of you that read this hear enough of that from me on a regular basis.
I’m now down to two weeks in Kratovo, and I’m trying to prepare for the tears that will flow when I leave my family and the lovely town that was my first home in Macedonia.  They warn us at the beginning about how wonderful the homestay experience can be and how emotional some volunteers and their families are after swearing in and the volunteers have to move to site.  While I know I would have been fine, I now can’t imagine having gone through this experience without my family, especially my mama and my little Mila.  I have been taken care of so wonderfully and lovingly, and I promise that I will pay forward the love and kindness that I have been shown somehow in my life.  While I’m definitely sad to leave my new loved ones in Kratovo, I know the relationships will endure, and we are already talking about the visits they will make to Negotino in spring to go fishing in Tikves Lake. 
Yesterday we headed to Skopje to meet with all sorts of European and Macedonian Governmental agencies as well as USAID, the American Corner, the main Peace Corps office and the US Embassy. It was a crazy day, and included a herd of sheep (actual sheep, not us) being marched through downtown Skopje. The entertainment never ends. Meanwhile, I continue to scratch the bites all over me that were left by the mysterious friend in my bed that I cannot find, and hope that I destroyed his existence with the bashing of bedding in the sun today.  I spent the weekend working on a big drawing/painting of the fabulous view of Kratovo out my family’s kitchen window as a going away/thank you gift for them, and am definitely excited to get to spend the next two years in a community so chock full of artists as Negotino is.  I’m not even there yet and I already have amazing creative support for beginning to teach an art class as well as exhibit and participate in artistic events.  Its going to be frickin’ dandy. 
Also on my mind has been getting a second Masters once I get back to the states.  I’ve been weighing the possibilities and options for a long time, and though I know I could change my mind a few more times while I’m here, I’m currently leaning in the Journalism direction.  At this very moment, the thought of going through grad school again gives me the heebies, but I know I’m not done racking up degrees and will want to do it eventually.  And with the post-service education benefits that PC provides, I would be silly not to.  Also, I have somehow slipped through without having to take my GRE’s yet for reasons I do not fully understand, and the programs I’m looking at require these silly assessments, so I suppose I can study for those in my spare time in the next two years as well.  Any prep tips on these, anyone? Thanks.  
Just finished reading Monkey Dancing by Daniel Glick, super fabulous, and have embarked on the journey that is said to be Guns, Germs and Steel, which has been on my list for awhile.   SOON I will have Skype again! Joy! :) 
Peace, love and gratitude as always,
Em