Wednesday (E Markuan) I celebrated my golden birthday, turning 23 on the 23rd of April.
The day carried on as normal—Sqhip classes in the morning and projects/ assignments in the afternoon—but random Albanian family and friends excitedly wished me “Edhe nje qind vjet”, which means “May you live to be 100 years old”. If you want a peek into my life, I made a bunch of short video clips of the day and posted them on YouTube:
Oh yes and the other exciting thing about my birthday was getting to bake cookies with my host family—my sisters had never tasted homemade chocolate chip cookies before, which is a shock to me, and although it took a lot of convincing to get our 7 year old brother to try one, even he admitted they were good. They asked later if we can bake again sometime before we leave, which made me glad because I was afraid they wouldn’t like these “crazy American foods”. I brought some of the cookies to class and gave some to friends in town, also a big hit. For lunch, my teacher’s mother baked us a special Albanian patёllxhan (eggplant) dish, since I told him how much I love eggplant, and we all ate together in a localё after class.
When Chris and I got home from school in the evening our host aunt and uncle came to visit, and as a gift they gave me a bright red bra and underwear set! I couldn’t help but laugh because it was such a suprise, but also i know that such a gift is pretty expensive by Shqiptare standards, so I actually do appreciate it. She also gave me a cell phone dangle that has mickey mouse beads and a light-up doohickey, as well as a long necklace. Very Albanian. I expect to need to some serious designer readjustment lessons when I return to the States.
This week we progressed much further in language—for awhile we were caught up on learning the cases. Shqip changes the nouns depending on location and the verbs that modify them, whereas English only uses Nominative (subject of the sentence) and Genitive (property of owner—ex. Chris’ shoes). They are difficult to understand, memorize, and use, so we really haven’t grasped them yet, but hopefully it will come will time. However, this week we also learned a new set of verb conjugations that we can use to say the Imperfect/ Past-Continuous/ and Past Simple tenses, which is very useful now that I can go home and tell my family what I learned in school and that I ate lunch, instead of “today I learn cases” and “for lunch I eat byrek”. Its one step further, very exciting believe me.
Today was another long day—this week our afternoons are free to work on our technical practicums that start next week. I will be co-teaching a kindergarten class, 8th grade class, and community group on 3 different health topics. I’m working with the other volunteers in the nearby village of Gjergjen, so we get together to create our lesson plans and activities, then later we will translate into Shqip with our teacher’s help. I am nervous, but thankful that I get to work in a group.
Its been raining pretty hard, Chris and I got stuck in a terrible storm and had to walk home in the pouring rain. I think pretty soon it will be hot and I will wish for the cold weather again, but for now I'm eagerly anticipating the heat....!