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Tuesday, April 8, 2008





Today is Sunday [e diel], and we have officially been in our PST towns for one week! Its hard to believe all that we have seen and learned in such a short time, yet it feels like forever since we got here. Chris and I live in the outskirts of Cerrik (we call it the ‘burbs since we’re a half an hour walk from the town center where we take Shqip classes with three other PCTs) and I will need to ride a furgon to the next fshat [village] in order to meet up with the other health volunteers and do our practicum. In a few weeks I will be pairing up with another trainee and coordinating with the biology teacher, nurses, and English teachers of the local school in order to teach a kindergarten class, a 9th grade class, and a community group on some health topic of our choice. In Shqip! Such pressure….!

Sunday is our day off-- I spent my afternoon visiting different volunteers and their families before walking to the next fshat , called Shtёrmen, where we met more volunteers and their families. I love how so many people have large gardens surrounding their homes, which provide the main staples of their diets. So far I have noticed a bountiful array of cherry, pear, orange, olive, lemon, fig, and apple trees, as well as loads of eggplant, onion, garlic, peppers, beans , lettuce, grapes, etc. I can’t wait until everything blooms in May!

After the rounds of visits a few volunteers and I went up into the hills to see the lake, then climbed up a steep path to their old church, where we could see out all around to the villages, including Cerriku. Becca and I took a furgon back to town to save time, since the sun was begin to set and we didn’t want to get stuck out in the dark away from home. Plus, I would have to walk an additional 30 minutes in the muddy ditch by myself, avoiding cars as they sped past. It doesn’t really feel dangerous but we are told there are many drunk drivers and since there is no sidewalk or lights it can be a hassle.

For now, I’m sitting on a couch in the family room surrounded by my host family, aunts, uncles, and gjёushja [grandmother], who are speaking rapidly and loudly in Shqip, or so it seems to me. Life here is very family-oriented and no evening is complete without stopping in to drink kafe with one’s relatives, neighbors, and friends. I think that’s why we eat so late here—usually around 10 pm, because we need the evening to socialize…

Tomorrow [nesёr] Chris and I are catching a furgon to Elbasan, for training with all the PCTs. The US ambassador will be there to meet us, and another week of language classes, trainee activities, Elbasan meetings, and practicum preparations will ensue… Hopefully in a few minutes we will get to eat some dinner [darkё], which will be byrek, the spinach pie I watched our host mom prepare this morning. They were shocked to learn that I make bread in America, and wonder why I am so curious to watch them make yogurt [kos], cheese [djathe], and gather eggs from the chicken yard. Now back to the books!

Natёn e mirё!

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