This week we started out with our first health practicums in Gjergjan! I took the bus in the early morning and joined the other PCT group for language classes, and then afterward we went into the classrooms to perform our lessons.
Monday morning my group taught germ theory to the kindergarten students, while Wednesday I was part of the anti-tobacco campaign in the 7th grade, and in the early evening we had a young women’s sexual health meeting. Overall the lessons went quite well—except for perhaps the sexual health meeting in which the “surprise guests” (older women and mothers of the community) showed up and wouldn’t stop laughing or talking and shuddered away in terror at the site of a cucumber with a condom on it. However, the kindergarteners all sang our ‘Row Row Row your Boat’ rendition of ‘Wash Wash Wash your Hands’ and the 7th graders successfully interacted with the anti-smoking station posters we created. There were so many unexpected twists and down-right annoyances but all in all it was worth being thrown into pit and having to get in front of a classroom full of kids who speak a language I don’t understand. In my future site I will be working more closely with the nurses and teachers before doing any lessons (if I choose to work in the schools at all) so I hope it will be slightly easier, though I am sure there will always be certain cultural beliefs that impede learning about such topics. I digress!
So otherwise, the week was pretty slow but on Sunday we celebrated Cinqo de Mayo in one of the villages near Elbasan. Monica’s host-parents, who own a locale in Haydara, let us cook a bunch of food in their closet-kitchen, and all of the volunteers took a bus up the hill to feast on “Mexican-Albanian” food. I stayed overnight in Elbasan with a few other girls in order to make tortillas at one of the current volunteer’s houses; though, unfortunately the “corn flour” here turned out to be more like powder with some corn bits mixed in and the dough wouldn’t stick together enough to cook… So instead of tacos we made chicken salad, mashed potatoes, Mexican-seasoned rice, and rice pudding.
The party itself was a lot of fun—we broke a piñata in the shape of a gomar (donkey) and did the limbo, while rocking out to a Latin American- themed playlist. (That is, until the Albanian sisters turned up the volume of the TV’s music videos to full blast in hopes of inspiring us to dance, which that did not.)
Tomorrow is our hub day for the week—another Friday recap in Elbasan with all of the volunteers. It’s also a chance for us to stock up on supplies needed for the camping trip on Saturday. We’re all meeting in Belesh, where we will hike to the top of a plateau and probably drink ourselves silly. From what I hear there is a lot of sheep poo at the top, so I think we need to go buy some heavy sheets of plastic to lay down under our sleeping bags…. But I’m sure I will be fun regardless of comfort. ;)