Spring Break Musings

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I missed March. I literally wrote nothing for March, but in my defense March was kind of boring. Nothing particular interesting happened in March, so I wasn’t very moved to write anything. Also, this whole getting out at least one post a month was my own personal goal, so I suppose the only person I let down was myself. Anyway, the good news is that something interesting happened that I can finally write about. Two weeks ago was Spring Break. I was telling a friend of mine the other day that this teaching thing isn’t bad, to still have Spring Break yet not be the one in school. It’s weird, yet nostalgic at the same time.

Anyway, for Spring Break I went traveling with a fellow PCV from cohort 2. The reason I didn’t mention my travel plans beforehand is because I was so scarred from my failed attempt at traveling during Winter Break that I basically put my plans out of my head until the day I left my site. If I didn’t think about it, I couldn’t be disappointment if something came up suddenly and I ended up not going. But I went and now I’m back and for the most part I really enjoyed my experiences.

My friend and I went to two different cities: first Thessaloniki, Greece and Belgrade, Serbia. Belgrade was even a last minute add-on suggested by me. I didn’t get to go to Greece before, but I still wanted that experience and that passport stamp. I remember my friend telling me that she was going to Thessaloniki for a few days, earlier in the year, and asked her if she’d considered going to Belgrade too. It was never in my plans to visit Serbia before leaving the Peace Corps. Yet, just like my other friend is always saying about herself, it was never in my plans to live anywhere in the Balkans for two years, so my entire Peace Corps service has been one last novel experience after another. But Serbia particularly, never really interested me, even after being here for awhile and listening to other volunteers positive travel experiences within the country. The driving decision for me ended up being the desire to explore the other side. I live in an Albanian community in Kosovo. I speak Albanian, and I get the Albanian perspective every single day, but at the end of the day I’m still American, still just a guest. I have the unique ability to extract myself from the situation and look at it from both sides, something I thought would be best done by actually traveling to Serbia. Which I did and it was great.

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Soaking up the Thessaloniki sunshine. Maybe this cat’s on Spring Break too!

We spent four days in Thessaloniki (too long) and two days in Belgrade (too short). Thessaloniki, the best way I can put it, is a transit city. In my opinion people, or at least expats like myself (am I considered an expat), go there for two reasons: to shop and as a layover to get to another destination. When we first arrived in Thessaloniki (or Thess as we call it) I honestly thought we were in the wrong city. Thess doesn’t look like Greece, or at least not the picturesque touristy version we’re always feed with the blue-green water and the pretty little houses lining the lush green coast. No, Thess looks like Europe. It’s a city with roads, construction, a nice area, a not so nice area, and graffiti E-V-E-R-Y-W-H-E-R-E. I swear every single building in the city was tagged with some sort of graffiti.

When we first got there we were both a little skeptically about the choice we’d made, but by the end of the day Thess had started to grow on us. For one, everyone (or at least it seemed like everyone) spoke English, which was great for us cause we ended up being those tourists who travel to a different country and don’t know a word of the local language before we get there. I can’t believe I did that. I’m always the one saying that you need to at least know “Hello”, “Thank you”, and “Where’s the bathroom?” in the local language of any place you visit, yet I went to Greece without even knowing how to say “Hello”. I learned by the end, though. By the end of the trip Yassas (Greek for “Hello”) became our favorite word, mainly because it was the first word that we heard whenever when entered a shop or cafe. Not sure why, maybe its high foreigner count or maybe because it’s a university town, but no one automatically assumed we didn’t know Greek. They’d greet us in Greek, then switch over to English when they realized we didn’t understand (which we’d shoot a quick thanks in pray to the heavens for). Here is Kosovo, more often than not, people automatically assume I don’t know Albanian and start conversations with me in English…or German on occasion. I get it, I absolutely get why they do it. Albanian is a tough and very distinct language. It’s not one that many foreigners study on a whim, even ones who’ve lived here for awhile, so as a show of respect toward me they use English to meet me halfway. It still doesn’t change the fact that it makes me feel completely alienated, partly cause I have worked so hard to learn the language and partly cause it doesn’t happen to my fellow melanin-challenged PCVs. There’s no win in a situation like this, though, cause whenever I do use my Albanian it becomes such a novelty to someone locals that I end up spotlighting myself and further causing myself to feel alienated. Le sigh.

But this post isn’t about languages, it’s about travel and our experience with English in Greece was super refreshing. So was the to-go cultural, as in coffees in to-go cups and not being considered weird while walking and eating. This was bittersweet for me, cause of the tree hugger inside me, but at the same time not being looked at as crazy while walking and drinking a coffee was really nice. The anonymity was great too. People stared there, but not as much. My favorite part about Thess was the boardwalk and the bazaar, which we literally came across by mistake. We spent more time than not walking up and down the boardwalk or through the city and never once really felt spotlighted. My friend really liked the city and wants to go back. If I ever go back it’ll be as a stop over to or from Halkidiki, a place much like the picturesque Greece I mentioned before.

After Thessaloniki we had a whole days journey to get to Belgrade. We left at 8:30 from arrive in Belgrade around 9:10, so just over 12 hours of travel. It wasn’t that bad and it wasn’t even the longest time I’ve spent traveling. After you’ve spent 29 hours on a hard seat traveling from middle to southern China, any trip under 24 hours ends up feeling like a cake walk. The only thing that bothered both of us about the journey is that there were no rest breaks between Skopje and Belgrade. Every stop we made was literally load and go.

 The best thing I can say for Belgrade is that it was surprising. Tucked away in the middle of the Balkans is this international city and it felt like one too. It may not have hugely famous tourist destinations, but it does have a lot of historical sites for those interested in history. It also happens to be a world renowned party city, which we only learned after we got there. No worries, no worries. It was off-season when we went, but we were encouraged by so many people to come back during summer to experience true Belgrade nightlife. Er….hmm….maybe. Even the day we left, despite the fact that it was the off-season, was telling of the night life. We left our hostel at 4:45am to catch a 5:30am and there were people walking the streets, most likely just coming from a night of partying. There weren’t a lot, but even as we walked the streets we saw pastry places or pizza joints open…at 4:45am!

I really liked the feel of Belgrade and if I had to choose between the two cities, that’s the one I’d go back to, not for the partying, but for the history, though I’m really curious to see if all night boat parties (parties on boats that travel all night up and down the river from about 11pm-7am) are a thing. They’re a thing, they are, I just can’t believe it. The real reason I’d like to go back is because, even with two days and a walking tour the second day, there were still a lot of sites that we weren’t able to get to. I’d also really like to bring my family to visit the Balkans one day and Belgrade would definitely be a stop on the list, but good luck to myself trying to get any of my immediate family members on an international flight.

I seem to be one of the few travelers in my family and after four months this amazing adventure/life/experience will be over. I can’t even believe it, but this time two weeks from now, I’ll be leaving to attend my Close-of-Service (COS) conference, where like my mom said they’ll plant subliminal messages of apple pie, bald eagles, and fast food into our heads to make the transition back to America a little easier. It won’t be easy and I know this, but I also know that I’m more than ready for the next phase of my life, whatever that may be and wherever it may take me.

“Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey.”
― Pat Conroy

Six More Months!

So by my own timeline, I’m late getting out a new post. Even still for me to even be posting is an accomplishment, so claps for that. There’s really not much I want or need to say about my past month. Besides the weather being out of it’s mind, everything’s been normal and everyday. Isn’t that weird to see a Peace Corps Volunteer write that their life is normal and everyday. I live in a village, in the a partially recognized state in Eastern Europe and I have the audacity to write that my life is normal and everyday. But it is, and I think that’s the beauty of the second year of service. It might even be the beauty of living in any foreign place for a long period of time.

And speaking of time, mine here in Kosovo is almost over. As of February 19th I’ve entered into my last six months of service. My COS (close of service) conference is in May and my last day of school in June. I didn’t extend when given the chance and I don’t think I’ll be leaving early, so just like my volunteer friend said when we last met, “Whenever they say I can go, I’ll go”. It’s that simple for me too. I really lucked out with my service, in my country invitation and in my site placement. I talk to people here so much about how I really love the country and its people that many of my colleagues are surprised I didn’t decide to stay for an extra year. However, for me the choice to not stay was just as much dependent on me deciding that I wanted to be at a certain place a year from now (which wasn’t Kosovo) as was on me realizing that there’s not much else that I can give to my community that I haven’t already given or plan to give in the few more months before I leave.

Six months is not a long time at all, especially when you’re talking in terms of a 27-month service. I plan on having fun in these next few months though. Keeping my head down, doing as much work as I do can for my students both in and outside the classroom, developing good habits to take back with me, as well as trying to get rid of some of the old ones. I’ve already been trying to adopt the habit of waking up a 5:30 a.m. every morning despite the fact that I’m not a morning people at all. Just one thing on the laundry list of things that I’d like to accomplish before my six months is up.

 

“If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.” ~ Fed DeVito

More Questions than Answers

I honestly thought that I’d be putting up a post earlier than this given the circumstances of my awesome end of the year vacation and the desire to want to share it as fast as possible. Only, my vacation never happened. I didn’t go to Greece or Switzerland over winter break and although I’ve made my peace with fate and her impressive, yet horribly timed curve balls, I wasn’t in any hurry to rehash the exact reasons why my plans didn’t work out.

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The airport the day I was to fly out – All flights canceled due to fog

As if to set a precedent for the entire year, nothing really seems to be going according to plan. I was supposed to ring in the new year with a friend – one I haven’t seen in years – and her family in Zurich and return to Kosovo on the 1st, but that didn’t happen. Instead, I rang in the new year the same way I did last year, in the biting cold of my room only venturing to go out at the promise of food and fireworks. I didn’t let that deter me, however, and set about continuing to plan my future. Next up was registering to take the foreign service exams in February. A friend and I had decided to take it together, however, once she returned from break and we got to planning our exam trip (the nearest testing center is in a neighboring country) it was too late…for me. Somewhere during the application process, I lost electricity. When it finally returned, she informed me that she’d managed to nab the last available testing time slot….for this entire cycle.

With no mental break from my 24/7 volunteer life and no foreign service exam in my immediate future I’ve been wondering to myself what in the world 2016 has in store for me. Everything about this year is a mystery, including when I finish service and what I plan on doing when I’m done. Ironically enough, what I decide to do post-Peace Corps has a lot to do with when I COS. I’d never even entertained the idea of COS earlier than August 19th, but I may have the often to try for Switzerland again in the summer. The only time my friend is free, however, is toward the end of July, meaning I’d have to leave early to go or extend three months so the three month travel ban wouldn’t affect my summer. Since I don’t really see the latter chose happening, I might, in fact, be leaving a month earlier than I planned. Like I said before, I don’t really know what I’ll do with myself when I get back, but I’m keeping my options open for sure.

Rough Start

Winter break is here and at the moment I am feeling all kinds of emotions. I had a really rough start setting out. Normally I’m very comfortable in my community and traveling around the country when necessary, but for some reason today wasn’t my day. In general I don’t have a lot of anonymity as a Black woman living in a majority Albanian country, but it mostly doesn’t bother me. Today, however, I just happened to get event after event compounded one on top of each other. On the bus from my city there was a teenaged boy two rows ahead of me that would periodically look over his headrest at me for the entire hour and a half bus ride. There was even a five minute period where he incessantly called out trying to get my attention, though I was pointedly ignoring him. Now correct me if I’m wrong, but isnt it rude for anyway kid to call out to an adult like that, especially a stranger they don’t know? So then why is it that I don’t deserve the same respect, just because I look different from the people around me?

Furthering my annoyance was the girl sitting across the aisle from me. During one of the few times that I ventured to look away from the window, I just happened to look over and sit a picture on her phone of me staring out the window. I honestly thought I was seeing things. To get a better look I very conspicuously looked over the aisle at her phone to verify what I was seeing. Of course once she saw me looking she changed the photo and closed her phone, but when our eyes met I gave her the biggest, “Are you kidding me look!?” to let her know she’d been caught. I wanted to tell her right away to delete the picture, but I also didn’t want to incur the interest of the annoying staring kid any further. I resolved to confront her when we got off the bus, but she and her friend were gone by the time I finally got off.

Understandably, I was past annoyed by then. After getting off, I decided to call my friend, a fellow WOC, to tell her of my experience, and while I was walking and talking I passed by a man up there in age, who without shame blurred, “How black!!” in Albanian as I passed by. Well no duh! This whole time I was under the false impression that I was orange. Thanks for pointing out the obvious kind strange. After that ordeal I made it onto my last bus, my friend was on the line and the first thing I hear was a “Oh nice!!” in English, in references to me. I don’t know why people feel the need to pull out their limited English skills around me, or to use them in situations like that one like its somehow the one thing that all foreign girls want to hear. As if stateside catcalling isn’t bad enough.

I don’t know why it had to be today of all days. Things like this aren’t necessarily uncommon for me here, but I live in a village, which allows me to be insulated within my community. Outside of my community I’ll receive the occasional stares or requests for photos, which I understand. I stand out. I’m different and there is absolutely nothing wrong with curiosity. What is wrong is staring at people constantly and calling out to them like you’re trying to call an animal. What’s wrong is taking secret pictures of people without their permission, without giving them the opporunity to agree or disagree to the picture that’s being taking. Today, I wanted to come on here and gush about how excited I am to be visting Greece and Switzerland soon. I wanted to talk about my last month in school and my plans for writing more posts in the coming months. I wanted to write about all those things, but instead I felt compelled to shelve those topics in lieu of talking about the immediate thing that affected me today. As I’ve probably written multiple times over, I love being a volunteer and I love being able to have these experiences in Kosovo. That doesn’t mean, however, that my life is without difficulties. I wanted to be as candid as possible when retelling these events, because I don’t think I’ve ever really written about the experiences that I’ve had as far as my race is concerned. It’s not a big issue for me that comes up on a daily basis, but it’s also not a non-issue either. Being a Black female volunteer does affect my service. It affects the way people see me and how they relate to me, especially strangers on the street who don’t know me, and think that spitting out a line of the latest rap song is going to impress me (Disclaimer: it won’t). This was my experience today and I though it ts necessary to share to promote understanding. The next few blogs I promise will  be filled with fluffy details of my next two weeks of travel, which I can’t wait to write.

Dealing with the Unexpected

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A lot has happened in the three and a half weeks since my last post. I kind of can’t imagine only posting once a month for the next nine months. Lucky for me the goal I set for myself was a minimum goal, not maximum, so if need be I’ll post more often in the future. For now, I’ll get started with the details of this month.

November started out to be kind of, sort of awesome. The first week of the month on Thursday and Friday, they decided to finally install the central heating units that had been sitting around in my school for the last two months. Cool for two reason: first, my school will have central heating!!!, second, we got to have five days off from school- including that following Monday and Tuesday, plus a planned field trip on Wednesday for the students. Not having school that Friday ended up working out perfectly for me because that Thursday evening my host sister from my PST family messaged me and asked if I was free the next day. I replied that I was and she replied with “Good, cause tomorrow we’re coming up to Peja to see you”. Ehhhh, spoken in true Albanian form and fashion. But yes, they did come all the way to Peja, from the other side of the country, just to visit me. It was great and so touching and my heart just swelled at all of their kindness and love.

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A failed attempt at a host mom, host daughter photo actually turned out great!

We went to out to eat in the square and then went to Drini Bardh, a very famous waterfall in the Peja area. After that they started back on their three hour journey home. And of course before they left they reminded me to come back and visit whenever I’m free. I want to, I truly want to, but it’s far and expensive on a PCV stipend. I’m glad they came to visit me though. My host mom always said they would once they bought a car and they did!!

Overall, I originally thought this month would be really busy. I’m currently involved in self-improvement projects like NaNoWriMo and two TESOL teaching classes I’m taking through Coursera.org (this is mainly to become a better teacher for my students), plus all of my school related work, but it didn’t turn out that way. On the contrary, the second week of the month I ended up not being able to do much of anything, because we were without internet for a week. That was really frustrating and has a complicated backstory, but long story short we have wifi again and my productivity can continue.

At the moment, things are progressing well. I just had my first after school English Club meeting with my 6th graders today, because a few expressed interest to me about wanting to take English after school lessons once they saw me working with my students in grades 7-9. Let me just say that course with 6th graders probably wouldn’t work if I didn’t speak Albanian. It’s already a hard enough language as it is and nothing is harder than trying to decipher what a bunch of screaming 6th graders are trying to tell you in their native tongue. But during course, while feeling the onset of a headache from having to classroom manage so much, a part of me realized how precious it was that my students were confident enough in my abilities to understand them (falsely so) that they could spit rapid fire Albanian at me. It was a truly cross-cultural moment if I’ve ever had one. I was also very proud of them for deciding by themselves that they wanted to stay after school in the first place.

Another honorable mention moment – two actually – would be showing my students pen pal letters that were sent from students in Georgia (the country). Another PCV is serving there and together we decided to create this letter exchange for our 5th and 9th grade students and let me just say that both grades absolutely lit up when they received the letters. I didn’t know what response I was going to get (I’d hoped they’d like the letters) from either class, but to say I was surprised by their excitement would be an understatement. Even my counterpart looked happy as she translated the letters to the 5th grade students enthusiastically sounding her. It’s absolutely true that their joy was infectious. This type of program is great for teachers like us, because there’s a tons of lessons rolled into one: practicing English outside the classroom and cross-cultural exchange, to name a few.

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My 9th grade students with their pen pal letters.

This year, I’m doing a lot more activities like this with my students, trying to be creative and take English outside of the classroom. Tomorrow, instead of having a standard lesson, my 9th grade English Club students are going to a museum in the city and after that I’m taking them to an American owned bakery where they will have the chance to practice ordering in English. I’ve also asked my Albanian language tutor to come and chat with them in English as a motivator so that they can see where all their hard work will lead if they keep practicing.

On Saturday of this week us Kosovo PCVs are throwing a going away party for our CD, because he’s leaving next week. I was one of the ones who offered to get food so I have to go in early. After this weekend, I’ll have pen pal letters to mail, mid term test to grade, normal teacher planning, and cooking to do for two Thanksgiving dinners I’ve been invited too. That will basically wrap up November. As far as school as a whole goes, we are now just under the one month marker for how much time we have left in this semester. I can’t believe it’s almost over, but I’m also really excited about my travel plans. I’ll write in my next monthly update about how my last month of first semester went and just what I plan to do over holiday break. Definitely a post were reading.

 

 

“To expect the unexpected shows a thoroughly modern intellect.” ~ Oscar Wilde

Looking Forward

Snow capped mountains and wilting corn stalk can only mean one thing.

Snow capped mountains and wilting corn stalks can only mean one thing.

I am on the downslope of my Peace Corps service. I’ve been on the downslope of my service since August and ever then since, I’ve been in awe over the fact that I have less than a year in country. I’ve been really bad about blogging my PC experience this last year and change, although anyone who knows me has probably caught me furiously writing in my journal at some point in time. Even still, I’d like to commemorate my last ten months in country by writing at least one blog entry a month and posting it every 19th of the month. Barring extension or change of date – where one can leave 30 days before or after their official COS date – August 19, 2016 is my official COS date and surprisingly, I’m really looking forward to it.

I say surprisingly, because I love my service, I love being a Peace Corps Volunteer, and a year ago this time, extending was a definite possibility. However, now I can actually see myself leaving Kosovo in August. Maybe that’ll change in the next few months, who knows, but for now the impending August 2016 leave date for me feels like a bittersweet close to an awesome period of time in my life. The second year is so different from the first.The familiarity with the language, my community, and the way of life here makes everything more comfortable. I know the people and can move about with more ease than I could last year. It’s honestly, the little things that only time could have affected that make the second year what it’s turning out to be.

If I had to put it into perspective, last year was the learning year where a lot of mistakes were made all in the name of progress. This year seems like it’ll be the year of growth and successes. My November alone is packed to the brim with things that I have to accomplish, some for my own personal growth, but most to grow me as a teacher and volunteer. My students this year are all the students I had last year. I know what they’re all capable of after working with them for a year, so this year I’m a little more educated on how to approach their strengthens and weaknesses when it comes to learning English. In turn, I feel like they’re expecting more out of me as a teacher. In these first two months of the new school year alone I’ve had students come up to me, bright eyed and hopeful, about having English extracurricular courses, students who I’d originally thought were apathetic about learning the English language. I’ve had other students come up to me and give suggestions about what they’d like to learn about and do in the extracurricular English Clubs, when a year ago I would have been met with silent stares when asking for their input.

If last year was about planting seeds, then this year is about watching them grow. Peace Corps is always quick to remind us volunteers that we won’t see the effects of our service during our service. They say it might even be years before any changes in our communities start to show and maybe they’re right. If you’re planting the seeds of a giant oak tree then yea, it’ll take years to see it become the big, great mass that it’s meant to be, but if you look close enough in the beginning, you might just be able to see the little leaves of the sapling poke out from the soil. That’s what I’m witnessing now in this second year. I’m witnessing my students’ progress with the English language, their desire to speak out more and take initiative, where before they just waited for me to tell them what to do.

These last few months are definitely going to be great. I’m not looking forward to winter and the cold that it brings with it, but November is so packed with stuff to do, I’ll blink and it’ll be over. Then I’m blink again and Christmas will be here. I make it sound so dramatic when I put it that way, but it’s exactly how I feel at the moment.

“The most beautiful moments always seemed to accelerate and slip beyond one’s grasp just when you want to hold onto them for as long as possible.” ~ E. A. Bucchianeri

The Many Loves of My Life

Life's little joys. NesVanil, anyone? Anyone?

Life’s little joys. NesVanil, anyone?

On this day last year I began my Peace Corps journey as a, then Peace Corps Trainee (PCT), by heading off to Washington, D.C. to participate in a process called Staging (kind of like a pre-orientation, orientation). Now, I’m sitting here in site in a beautiful country I’d never even heard of before Peace Corps, two days away from celebrating my one-year anniversary in country. Wow…just wow. I’m totally being nostalgic here, but I’ve experienced so many things this past year, that I don’t even know how to begin to put them into words.

I have about a week and a half left of school. After that, I’m flying home for two weeks on vacation to see some family, hug some necks (as my grandma would say), and half chill/half go crazy trying to do everything. It is vacation after all. Even now with a little less than two weeks left, I’m ready to go back and then I’m not ready. Though my reasons for going back are clear (to see family, cause most of my family members seem to be allergic to travel), I’m not exactly sure how I feel about stepping back onto American soil and the possible reverse cultural shock and all that goes with it.

What I do seem to be sure of, surprisingly, is my dedication to the Peace Corps, the people of Kosovo, and my hopes and aspirations for my service in the coming year. I remember talking to my mom about this in iMessage, telling her that even though I’m happy to be coming home to visit, my work here in Kosovo is still not over and I’d feel thoroughly discontented with myself if this were to be me coming home for good. And that’s not to say that I haven’t accomplished anything here yet. Change and development are slow and steady processes and being the first group in country is mostly about connecting with people and relationship building, as opposed to coming in thinking we’re going to save the world right out of the gate.

What I went on to explain to my mom is that, while I had an idea of it before, I completely understand now why Peace Corps is a two year committee instead of just one. This last year was all about learning and growing and making mistakes. I did a lot of things right, but I did a lot of things wrong too and I’ve learned from those mistakes. I’ve sat in a classroom for a year now, saw how my students learned, what motivated them and what bored them to tears, what was least useful, and what had them begging my co-teacher and I to stay a little longer even though the bell had rung five minutes ago. I know those things now and it’s not to stay that this coming year won’t be trial and error all over again, but what I will have on my side is familiarity, knowing my students, knowing my school, knowing my colleagues and co-teacher. I’m excited for my next year in service and really hopeful about the prospects. I’m ready to see my family and to stuff myself full with all the foods I’ve missed over the year, but it’s also really amazing how well I can see past those two weeks in America, to the tasks at hand I’ll have waiting for me when I get back to Kosovo.

Life can be real simple here. It can also be challenging beyond belief, but the simple things are sometimes the most beautiful things about life. Just yesterday I was looking through my Notes app on my iPhone trying to find where I’d written the names of all the peoples I’ve been, when stumble over this gem below (which inspired the title of this post). I wrote this list back in October, when I was still relatively fresh in my Peace Corps service. It’s amazing to read back over it now and realize how many of these things remain true and how it was ultimately living in Kosovo that made me consider, with intentionality, all the little things in life that make me happy. The list is by no means exhaustive and I don’t have favorites within it, but the last one really did make me smile.

The Many Loves of My Life

Family
Friends
Soul-binding relationships (platonic and otherwise)
Traveling
Kosovo
Handmade Jewelry
Silver
Silver handmade jewelry
My name necklace
Cooking
Eating
Sharing what I’ve cooked
Being praised for my cooking
Coffee
Starbucks
Flying
Airplanes
Airports
My room
Warm beds
Minimalism
Simplicity
The pursuit of minimalism and simplicity
Reading
Writing
The English Language
The study of the English Language
Chinese
Speaking Chinese
American Chinese food
American Japanese food
Food
Kosovars
Teaching English
And….
Being a Peace Corps Volunteer

 

“Certainly travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is the change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” ~ Mary Ritter Beard