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Friday, April 18, 2008

Unё jam nё’nё!

I am busy! This week has been chaotic—Chris and I returned from the volunteer visit late on Tuesday evening, and spent the rest of the night trying to relay our adventure to our host family. The next morning we had language classes as usual and then hopped on a furgon in order to meet with all the other PCTs in Elbasan for an afternoon of PC training. Today (Thursday) we ventured out early in the morning to attend meetings with various school directors around Cerrik. Our community project is going to be hosting an art festival /contest at the end of May, so we’re trying to coordinate with the schools to encourage kids and young adults to enter. Since we didn’t have a translator with us, we were forced to test all of our primitive Shqip skills in order to convey our proposal. Everyone seems to love the idea—and there are plenty of great young artists around town so the kids all got pretty excited. So now, as long as the mayor agrees to give us the deserted cinema as a venue we’ll be all set…

Alas, after spending time with all the directors, we were exhausted even before language class began! Luckily we had one of our favorite teachers, Oriola, and we successfully completed another complex grammar issue (we’ve been discussing cases lately (they use all 5 in Shqip, whereas English only uses 2), and now we’re modifying our definite and indefinite nouns to be both gender-- and case-sensitive, as well as identifying singular vs plural in each form) before begging to be let free around 4:30. We all still have plenty of work to do—tomorrow all the PCTs have to turn in several mid-term assessment papers, our technical group assignments, a presentation on our community project proposal, and to prepare for our oral assessments. Of course we went to our favorite spot in town—the posh internet café, with its comfy couches and friendly staff-- to do our work, though I can’t imagine how PC expects us to be able to complete all of this in such a short work-week!

And, ironically, when Chris and I got home, we had a few minutes to chat with our family when all of the sudden they whipped out some gjellё (soup) and told us to “hani bukё!” (ie “eat food/ bread!”) so that we could go dancing! Wasn’t expecting that one, and there’s no way to turn them down—our entire family had gathered down the street in preparation for the wedding of one of our host-cousins (big day this Saturday). She is marrying a man from Greece, who will take her away and she will likely never return. So the evening turned into a night of dancing—which means that Chris and I got to go meet another 50 or so people, sit for several rounds of café and be smothered by kisses from the gyshes (grandmothers), hold hands and circle-dance for a few hours to the sound of piercing Albanian music, and try desperately to be as polite as possible while everyone is talking about us in a language we can’t understand… Exhausting!

Tomorrow we’ll be back in Elbasan, a long day of technical training. We’ll also return on Saturday to do language simulations (we get to go buy foods in the market, ask strangers for directions, etc. while our teacher grades us on our grammar and comprehension), then in the afternoon Chris and I will rush off to join in on the last half of the wedding. I’m excited to attend a wedding here—should be fun and I like to take part in the activities—however, it’s terribly stressful to be attentive and try so hard to communicate with everyone around. From what I saw at the volunteer visit (and confirmed by all the others) is that everyone gets pretty comfortable with the language later on, it only takes time… So here’s to a shot of raki, and I’ll let you know how it goes….!


Arlene said...

You are both so lucky to be accepted into the family life of Albania!
Kisses from grandmothers? Fresh bread? Eggs? All gifts of love. After seeing the photos of you both dancing, I can imagine how much fun you've had tonight. Did you wear ribbons with flowers in your hair? Did the bride?

Analiese said...

Court!!! Oh my god!!! does everyone say "opa!!" as they dance?!? haha I am so excited for you! I want to dance to albanian music! hehe You have to show us pictures of the art show! I leave on Sunday. Its frantic and sad around here. I get to meet everyone internationally who is involved in the peace corps while Im in dc. They are having a convention and we are sitting in on it! Im excited! Im teaching ria how to emboss right now! miss you tons!