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.
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.
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