Like most teachers, all over the world, I have been looking forward to summer time. I think teaching is one of the most undervalued professions out there and part of me thinks summer break is more for the adults than the kids. (Don’t worry, putting away my soapbox now.)
I love my students, but a little break will be nice. Teachers at my school are still going in every day, finalizing grade books and making sure all the paperwork for the Ministry of Education is complete. That’s not something I can help with, and with my Macedonian skills, I’m sure my counterparts wouldn’t want my help.
I stopped by last week to check in after Turkey and after my counterpart and I talked about some goals for next year, he said I was safe not to come in for morning coffee.
And what does a teaching volunteer do during the summer you ask?
I’ll tell you.
So far, I’ve helped my friend Iris chaperone a hike for her Club GLOW in a nearby town.
I’ve crossed one of the popular Macedonian hikes – Vodna to Matka — off my to-do list. (Pro tip: Take the gondola to the cross, then start. The hike up to the cross was straight uphill and I panted and complained the whole way. Plus, I mean, it’s a gondola guys!)
I explored another nearby town with a hike out to another volunteer’s unofficial secondary project: a “camping cave” he’s built, complete with benches that can be used as beds and a small stone stove. There’s a swimming hole directly below and the view is perfect. (Later this summer I’ll definitely be taking advantage of the camping part.)
I’ll do a little more traveling, since the month and a half between the official end and start of old and new school years is when TEFL volunteers are allowed to tap into our vacation days. I’ll also volunteer at a few summer camps. Next week, I’ll be in a village outside Bitola for travel camp, where each day they learn about a different country. I’ll be teaching the kiddos about America, so I’m going to wear my American flag bandana and Alex Morgan jersey every day. (Sorry, not sorry.) Then at the end of July, GLOW CAMP! As one of the GLOW Coordinators, I’ll be a bit of a jane-of-all-trades for the week, but I am teaching one important class: karaoke.
I might write a dozen blogs about camp. I’m pumped. (Already practicing which songs I’m going to “teach.”)
I also have a few applications to fill out to hopefully supply my school with more English books. I’ll work on smoothing out lessons plans we worked on this year and creating materials we’ll be able to use next year. So while I’m officially free for this month and a half, my planner is already chock full. But that’s the way I like it.
I’ve also had some nice, long coffee talks with my host family. This weekend, we swapped stories about our recent travel adventures and my host mom quizzed me on what it’s like to have guests in America. She was concerned that it’s normal in England to have guests visit, but stay at a hotel. It’s not the Macedonian way. I said it depends. Sometimes people stay in hotels in America, and sometimes that’s what they prefer, but for special visitors, our homes are always open. I told her when she comes to visit, she’s staying at my house. (Full disclosure: I don’t actually have a house right now, so mom, I just volunteered yours. That’s cool, right?) She said she just wants to make sure I don’t forget about her when I leave.
Host mom and Julie? How could I ever forget? 🙂