Photo Friday

It’s been a whirlwind of a week. Like a good American, I took pictures of everything.

There have been lots of snippets that I wanted to share and the only cohesive element is that they all happened this week in Macedonia.

I learned the names of my 43 fellow trainees. I spent 24 hours + traveling. I started learning Macedonian. I toured Tetevo. I stayed up too late giggling in the dorm-style housing with my new friends. (It was like freshman year of college, with less sweatpants.) I got my first cold (womp womp). I ate lots of cabbage. I listened to the Deputy U.S. Ambassador. I learned about TEFL, the Macedonian culture and the culture of our group.

Here is the highlight reel:

It started in the airport.

This was the scene as we waited to board. Lots of last-minute emails, downloads, texts, calls and charging all electronics to make it through a long day of travel.

A boy and his technology. Getting ready to leave JFK and saying all our goodbyes.

A boy and his technology. Getting ready to leave JFK and saying all our goodbyes.

I didn’t see a skymall, but there was a variety of jewelry/perfume/beauty products available for purchase in flight. Also on the menu, cigarettes, listed under “good & tasty.” I enjoyed the warning labels that didn’t beat around the bush like many American ones do.

Chocolates are good and tasty. I don't feel the same about tobacco, but that's just me.

Chocolates are good and tasty. I don’t feel the same about tobacco, but that’s just me.

Right to the point: smoking kills.

Right to the point: smoking kills.

On our way to our first day of sessions, we stopped to admire dreamy JFK. (Thanks for dreaming up the Peace Corps by the way.)

JFK. Nuff' said.

JFK. Nuff’ said.

Children performing traditional Macedonian and Albanian dances was a highlight. They were so sweet. I also want to dress like this every day.

Traditional dancing kiddos.

Traditional dancing kiddos.

Now the fellas.

Now the fellas.

The Deputy Chief of Mission of the US Embassy, Bart Putney, gave us some insights about the country and challenged our next two years.

“You will be what they think of when they think of the United States,” he said.

Bart Putnam, dropping knowledge.

Bart Putnam, dropping knowledge.

He also told us about his best meal in Macedonia.

This map is posted in the school. I think the kids got it right giving Pennsylvania some prime real estate.

Students made this map, not to scale, but to which states are best.

Students made this map, not to scale, but to which states are best.

We visited the painted mosque in Tetevo, which was built in 1495. (Three years after America was discovered, you know, when Columbus sailed the ocean blue?) It was beautiful inside and out and our guide explained that the color was created using 20,000 eggs. The entire complex of the historic site is now protected by state law.

The painted mosque was beautiful from every angle.

The painted mosque was beautiful from every angle.

Outside the painted mosque.

Outside the painted mosque.

I don't have the camera or skills to capture this properly. Inside the mosque.

I don’t have the camera or skills to capture this properly. Inside the mosque.

We also visited the St. Nicholas Macedonian Orthodox Church. Construction started on the structure in 1903.

Orthodox church was beautiful too.

Orthodox church was beautiful too.

These cutie pies outside wanted to take photos and show off their few phrases in English, while we practiced our basic Macedonian.The best part was our silly face photo, where PCT Larry accidentally photobombed us. (I explained what photobombing was to him at lunch today and we both had a good laugh.)

The best photobomb in the silliest picture. Everything about this is awesome.

The best photobomb in the silliest picture. Everything about this is awesome.

I got to Skype home for the first time on Wednesday night. Naturally, my mom put my dog on the screen. She promptly ran out of the room to grab her tennis ball. (I’m not sure she understands the limitations of Skype yet.)

There is nothing better than seeing this little girl. :)

There is nothing better than seeing this little girl. 🙂

There were lots of hugs after our last session tonight, including with country director Kathleen Corey. She’s been a warm, welcoming, wealth of knowledge all week. I’m glad to know she’s at the helm of our country.

Corey

Tomorrow we move into our first homestay. I’ll be staying in Sveti Nicole, which I’m told is one of the mid-sized communities. I’ll have a younger host brother and host sister and I can’t wait to meet them. Woodrow Wilson School has been wonderful, but I can’t wait to start seeing the Macedonia I’m going to be a part of for the next two years.

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