Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Independence

I’m free! I got rid of all my classes! Well, at least for the month of July. One group of teachers suggested we wait until September (after school starts) to meet again. The other group was visibly disappointed when I said we’d be taking a needed break. (“Do we have any choice?”) And they asked if we could start up again in August. So, I will have classes again in August, but the break is good for now. I’ve been teaching since October of last year, and Apryl needs to do something different for a while.
Brandy, my site mate, left on Sunday. She went back to a wonderful place some know as “America,” and I spent the weekend hanging with her and just enjoying her company for the last time. It’s interesting. When Peace Corps had placement interviews with me, I told them that I didn’t want to be placed in a site that already had another volunteer. They argued their case for the perks to having another volunteer in site (I think they already had a general idea of where they wanted to place me), and I’m glad they ended up placing me with another PCV. Brandy and I didn’t spend every waking moment together, but we didn’t need to. We got together maybe about once a week, and we were there when we needed each other. In the end, I was here when she needed internet, and she was there when I needed good food and a television fix. Mostly, we were there to speak English to each other and blow off steam over drinks. Brandy’s from Georgia, and I got to learn a little bit about Southern culture from her while she was here. It was a good addition to this cultural experience. We were quite a twosome in this town, and now I’ve been left alone in a sense. I hardly believe it’s real. Part of me still thinks I can wander over to her house anytime I want and see her. No more will people ask me, “Where’s Brandy?” as I wander around town by myself. (sigh)
Baseball has been going well. I’ve been playing with whatever kids show up from the mahala. Last week, some kids came into the stadium and took a great interest in the sport. They got really excited and showed up again today. I’m just excited that I get to interact with a new group of kids – who aren’t Roma! They get really into the sport, and I love playing it with them.
Today, after baseball, my kids went and almost tore down a plum tree. They stole a bunch of plums, and they irritated me. “Is this your tree? Did you care for it?” I can see taking one or two, but one of my girls literally ripped off a whole branch. I was upset. I went into the weed patch and took the branch from her. In the meantime, I ran into a weed that might as well have bit me. Everywhere I touched it burned my arm, and I broke out into welts. It still hurts. Dang kids….
I’ve been planning a girls’ volleyball camp for about a month and a half now. It looks like there’s quite a bit of interest. Sixteen are scheduled to show up, and a few have come up and asked me about it. One girl was upset because she would be missing the camp to go on vacation to the beach. Haha. I try to believe it actually matters on that level to her. Maybe it does. I’ve learned that people here make a show of “wanting” to be a part of what you’re doing ‘cause they think that’s what you want from them. Then, at the last moment, they don’t show up. Anyway, she was cute while she was pouting about having to go to the beach and missing volleyball. On the other hand, I’ve been getting quite the runaround from other volunteers. I need help with this camp, and I sent out a request to tell anyone who was interested to get in touch with me. Three (with experience) were really interested, and I kept asking them to let me know for sure if they were coming. All of them, for one reason or another, had to bail on me. I understand. Things come up. I was just kind of upset that every single one of them had something come up – and I had to e-mail them to find out. In the meantime, I was hoping for some help. I have one last hope. I specifically e-mailed a friend of mine and asked for her assistance. I really hope she will come. If not, I will be doing this camp on my own, and the girls will have to really step up and take some leadership roles. Well, that is the goal in the end. I just hope the camp goes well and that we have fun!
Things in the office have been pretty slow. The only major thing we have coming up is Future Foundation’s 10th anniversary on the tenth. The hotel wants to charge us an arm and a leg for hosting 30-people for a “svetska masa.” I forget what it’s called in English. Maybe it’s a snack-bar? There’s finger food and alcohol, and everyone serves themselves. I think I mentioned that I helped them make a presentation for the evening. I just really hope it all comes together.
At the same time, I also have my COS (Close of Service) Conference. It’s going to be weird because I’m really not “COS-ing” to use PC lingo. It’s all about getting readjusted to the states and what kind of perks and services are available to us in the states as Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs). I’m not going to go into how weird it is to think about COS-ing. I still remember meeting everyone in those staging days in Washington D.C. Now, I’m going to have to go and say goodbye to all of them. It’s going to be fun to be together again (we’ve been paired down from 48 (who actually swore-in) to about 34), but it’s going to be weird and hard to be together for a last hoorah… especially when I’m not really leaving. I guess I’ll just take notes for the following year.
I’ll ditch the conference for a day to come back to Rakitovo for the tenth anniversary, and then I’ll go back to the conference. It’s going to be a busy week. Other than the brief ditch to come back to site, I’ll be out of Rakitovo the whole time. So the next post should be a little more interesting. Plus, this weekend is our town’s “praznik” (holiday), so I’ll talk about all the chalga singers I see and the fun fair rides that I go on. I’ll inform you of just how much cotton candy and donut-thingies I eat. It’s going to be a sugar-filled weekend.
So, tomorrow is Independence Day in the states. I really miss this holiday. I just have a lot of great traditions with my friends, and I’m not sure when I’ll be able to celebrate the 4th of July in such a way again. I really do like my independence as a Peace Corps Volunteer though. Man. You work for a host organization, but your paycheck comes from another organization. You’re accountable, but you also have a lot of freedom. I like that I don’t have to worry much about the 9-5 in the way the average slave does. If you want to play hooky, or something else comes up, you have a lot of breathing room. I say this because something came up this weekend, and, at the last minute, I told my boss that I wouldn’t be coming in on Monday. Today, I missed half the day. Then, he sent us home because there was nothing to do in the office at the moment. I really can be a lazy person when it comes down to it. If you give me the opportunity to be lazy, I will probably find a way to take it.
I told Brandy that, if I ever find myself “down-on-my-luck” or whatever in the states, I’d probably join Peace Corps again. Haha. It’s sad in a sense, but you get a steady paycheck. You’re not rich by any means, but you’re taken care of. You can travel a bit and live in another country. It’s an amazing opportunity. And, even though it gives you a dose of reality that you don’t want to deal with sometimes, it’s still a nice escape from your “9-5/how-will-I-make-ends-meet?” reality.

1 comment:

rhondee-zee said...

Wow! ur doing good and having alot of fun in Bulgaria!! and the VBall pic..rocks! it brought back Great memories :)