Monday, June 15, 2009
Last Friday was the last day of school for the primary grades 1-8. There was an awards ceremony in the town square on the front steps of the chistaliste (cultural center) for academic excellence. Mike and I attended primarily because my 12 year old host sister was receiving the award for being the best 5th grader. She studies Bulgarian, Russian, English, Math, Geography, History and Science, Music, and fitness. I’m so glad we were there to experience this universal pride of accomplishment.
As we watched the families gather, dressed nicely for the occasion I felt like I could have been anywhere in America. On the steps were children dressed in costume to perform a short play, majorettes to do some dance routines I’m sure they borrowed from the drill teams of Texas, and another group of children in traditional Bulgarian dress to do some Hora Dancing. There were T shirts and computer generated awards proclaiming the child’s name, the school they attended and their outstanding accomplishments. There were proud parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles attentively listening, cameras clicking and a general air of festivity. I recognized many of the students, the ones always in the front rows of the classes I have taught over the past two weeks. Dinner at the local Café followed the ceremony for many families.
Before leaving for Bulgaria, Mike and I were saddened knowing we would not be in Hudson for the summer months which are filled with outdoor concerts, kayaking, biking, and the joy of outdoor dining and the energy the St Croix River creates in town. Tonight there were eight PC volunteers dining on an outdoor Mexana patio with the river tumbling by just below us. It is hard to imagine that if we had put together a “dream location” for our training site that it would have been any different than where we are. I’m awed each morning when I step out my door and look up at these spectacular mountains.
We are coming up on the half way point of our training. Tomorrow June 18, we travel to our Hub for the announcement of our permanent sites. We then spend two days at the Hub with our counterparts exchanging information about ourselves, work experience and planning for the future. Together we travel to our sites for the first look of where we will be for the next two years. It seems we have to get back by bus or train on our own!!!!! The distance from our permanent sites to the Hub could make it a very interesting ride home!!!!
We are enjoying life here in our “bubble” coddled by our host families and supported in every way by our trainer. Although there are still full days, and projects awaiting us, the stress is decreasing perhaps because we can now occasionally get more than our basic needs communicated. All this will change once we are at our permanent sites and we are on our own having to find and purchase what we need, without people slowing down when talking and limiting there conversations to the very limited vocabulary and primitive speaking patterns we are used to using and hearing. The bubble will burst and we know that, so we are enjoying what we have while still feeling the excitement of what is ahead.