Mike In Macedonia
Saturday, January 14, 2012
Catch You Later!
It’s been quite awhile since my last posting which detailed the eighth grader’s prom. I never had the opportunity to closeout my blog, detailing my last few days before my departure from Probistip and three days later, Macedonia. I have been readjusting to life in the USA and have found it very difficult get motivated to sit down and write. Perhaps my hernia surgery, my son’s wedding, my wife’s rehab from hip replacement surgery, the performance of deferred maintenance to my house and yard, and the cleanup of trees and branches lost to an early snow. I must now close out this blog, writing for the first time as a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer.
I have been away from my Macedonian friends for almost seven months but it seems just like yesterday when I was saying good-bye to them. It was difficult to say farewell but it was tempered by the realization that I will return to see them in the future. I still communicate with some of them with weekly Skypes and e-mails and keep in touch with what’s currently going on the town with David the PCV, who has taken up residence in “my” apartment. It will be impossible to get the Macedonian culture out of my thinking and way of viewing and analyzing life in America, not that I want to. I have an extremely difficult time not always making comparisons between the two cultures when I’m with my family. I can see them wince whenever I begin a sentence with, “In Macedonia …”. I’m getting better at keeping my reflections to myself.
The beauty of Macedonia is paralyzing. Thank goodness I have lots of photos to assist me in remembering my journeys throughout the country.
During my last days in The Probe, some of my friends put together a little going away party at the Dublin Pub. (There seems to be an Irish Pub in every town. They don’t play Irish music and in Probistip don’t have a special menu or serve Irish beer but the “Pub” has a nice ambiance). My friends presented me with a few going away gifts, one of which was a scythe which I was going to get for myself anyway. (You’re probably asking yourself why would I want a scythe. It’s a long story so I won’t go into details here). We had a nice time.
The Director of Nikola Karev School presented me with a copper plaque replica of the school flag that was designed as a result of my suggestion that it would be nice to have a school flag to display. Aleksandra found a local artisan to create the work of art. It’s really beautiful. (You can view a picture of it on by clicking on My Albums at the top of this page).
Many of the students at the school expressed disappointment that I would no longer be in their classroom and a visible presence around town. They asked me to please stay and questioned me when I would return. I got lots of hugs and many of them wanted a photo of us together. My fellow PCV, Photoimage Guy, took some pictures of some of them and I promised the students I would post them on my last blog.
Short and Sweet: My Peace Corps experience was an adventure of a lifetime. I was involved in the day –to-day lives of ordinary citizens in a culture much different than our American way of life. I was in a place where age and experience are respected, which gave me the opportunity to share my observations with individuals who could implement change. I worked with a counterpart who loved to try new ideas in the classroom and had an open door policy with the officials in the municipality.
I know I earned the respect of the people who knew me or of me and I take pleasure in knowing that generations from now, someone , somewhere in Macedonia will ask the question, “Remember Michael, the American, when he….?” I accomplished many of my goals while serving, but as the saying goes, “I got much more out of the experience than I put into it?” Thank you, people of Macedonia.