July 19, 2003 - Personal Web Site: Tim and Cambria, joined the Peace Corps. Doing this produced a ton of interest and questions from our friends and family.

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Macedonia: Peace Corps Macedonia: The Peace Corps in Macedonia: July 19, 2003 - Personal Web Site: Tim and Cambria, joined the Peace Corps. Doing this produced a ton of interest and questions from our friends and family.

By Admin1 (admin) on Saturday, July 19, 2003 - 9:20 am: Edit Post

Tim and Cambria, joined the Peace Corps. Doing this produced a ton of interest and questions from our friends and family.

Tim and Cambria, joined the Peace Corps. Doing this produced a ton of interest and questions from our friends and family.

Peace Corps Macedonia

Peace Corps has been in Macedonia since June of 1996. Currently, volunteers from the 3rd, 4th, and 5th groups are here. This is a relatively small program. We have about 30 volunteers. We work in elementary and secondary schools, municipality offices, non-governmental agencies, and government ministries. In March of 1999, the Peace Corps program in Macedonia was suspended due to the conflict in Kosovo and resulting anti-American sentiment here. The program reopened in October of 1999. We, the Mak 4s, were the re-entry group. Three of the Mak 3s returned with us. The new group, Mak 5s, arrived in March and became volunteers in June.

Our staff includes 3 Americans. Ed is our administrative officer. Helen is our country director, and Christine is our medical officer. Everyone else on staff is Macedonian. Zvonko and Zdenka are our program managers. Mila assists Christine in the medical office. Zhaklina is our training coordinator, and Vinko and Biljana work with Ed in Admin.

17.1.00 - Cambria
In Service Training
Tim and I just returned from our first In-Service Training (IST) with Peace Corps. We were in Skopje at the same hotel where we began Pre-Service Training (PST). Basically, training was training. We had a more reasonable schedule than at PST, and it was great to see the other volunteers.

There was another conference in the hotel. Handicap International and the International Rescue Committee (IRC) were hosting a seminar. The participants were all parents of children with cerebral palsy. What incredible luck! I had intended to contact Handicap International to find out what projects I could help with in Gostivar, and they were in our hotel.

When our IST concluded, I stayed to participate in the parent workshop. The workshop was enlightening in many ways. First, I learn more about conditions in Macedonia for people with disabilities. Many of the parents aren't sending their children to school because of poor conditions (one of our volunteers is currently trying to fund a project to get bathrooms in the school for children with disabilities in her town). The children aren't receiving therapy. Even parents with money to pay for therapy can't find a therapist. When Macedonia was part of Yugoslavia, there was a center in Belgrade where people with disabilities went for therapy. This parent group is hoping to open a center in Skopje.

I also was given a glance of how difficult it might be to accomplish anything here. IRC had trained to Macedonian doctors to run the meetings so IRC can eventually pull out allowing the project to continue without them. The parent meeting consisted of yelling (not from anger but to be heard), standing, arguing about details (should the lunch break for the next seminar be 1 hour or 1 and ½ hours?), pushing facilitators out of the way to "lead" discussion. . . . It was mad. Amazingly, the lead doctor, a Spanish lady from IRC, said the group dynamics had improved dramatically from the previous day.

Anyway, the grand result of our IST is that I am now "hooked up" with two organizations that will hopefully be willing to help out our community.

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Gallery Macedonia Peace Corps Links


29.11.99 - Cambria and Tim
Back from Gostivar

We had an interesting week in Gostivar. I'm going to be in the mayor's office.

The previous mayor of Gostivar just got out of jail. Apparently he tried to hang the Albanian flag from the city hall. The Republic of Macedonia didn't like that idea. They brought in the police (who are 90% Macedonian - n.b. that figure comes from the Albanian community) beat a bunch of people (killed a few if you talk to the right people) and put the mayor and head of the council in jail.

This potent mix of nationalities will be challenging. Islam will take adjusting to too. This is something new for us in Macedonia. This past week was more of a cultural shock for us than the last two months in Macedonia.

The Albanian people are VERY hospitable. The mayor drove us all over town to look for a hotel room. Well, he rode in the city's car as his driver drove us all over the city. We ended up in a new hotel. I think we were the first guests who weren't paying by the hour. I'm not sure, but I don't think prostitution is quite the taboo you might expect in a Muslim community. Anyway, the hotel was the nicest hotel we have stayed at in Macedonia.

My job will be interesting. Right now the mayor won't talk to me w/o a translator. The days I spent there were all basically the same. Arrive in the morning, after being picked up by the mayor's car. Have coffee or tea with the mayor (no talking mind you). When the staff member that speaks English arrives I go with him and chat until 9. Then the whole office goes out for breakfast. We walk to some restaurant, but not before shaking almost every hand between the office and the restaurant. After breakfast, I spent the rest of the day talking to the English speaker and walking with him around the town. He would occasionally stop and point to some part of the town and tell me how many millions of German Marks I needed to raise to fund that project.

Gostivar has about 50,000 people, but is a very tight knit community. I think I have already met most of the leading businessmen and politicians. The families all know each other and everyone knows someone from every family or went to school with them. Very different than Atlanta.

Now the important news, the American Ambassador came to visit us lowly Peace Corps volunteers. When we were introducing ourselves, I mentioned that I was from Atlanta. He asked if I had seen the UGA-Ga Tech game. I wasn't able to pick it up in Gostivar. He then taunted me. He said it was an exciting game. Close, in fact. Overtime even. I finally got the details of the game from him. It is strange that a Tech win over Georgia is the highlight of my week. You take what you can while so far from home.

I'll be working in an elementary school. A very needy one. The school has 1500 students and 7 classrooms. The kids go to school in 3 shifts and only have each class for 30 minutes. The school is open 15 hours a day. The bathrooms are latrines with no doors (it's really too cold to go to bathroom outside). The school has Albanian, Turkish and Macedonian students. I'm really glad to be going somewhere that I am needed.

My counterpart there is a motivated man who wants to make things better for the students. I think he will be easy to work with. I haven't spent much time with the 2 other English teachers yet.

Gostivar is going to be a difficult adjustment. I had breakfast by myself in a restaurant there. When I arrived all the men went to another room. My Albanian friends here tell me that they didn't want me to be uncomfortable. It is very uncomfortable to be the only person in a restaurant that had many guests before your arrival. It will take time to get used to these different sex roles.

A big advantage to being in Gostivar is that a PC volunteer is already there. Kristina was evacuated with the other volunteers in March but returned in September. She teaches in a village near Gostivar. She's already been a great source of information for us.

LANGUAGE. . . we've had one day of Albanian classes. The grammar is going to be quite difficult. I'm very excited about learning another language though. Albanian will be a necessity in Gostivar. There are quite a few Kosovar refugees there who don't speak any Macedonian.

One of the biggest changes I noticed in Gostivar was the attitude towards Americans. Here we've been verbally assaulted for our "personal involvement" in the bombings, allowing Serbs to be mistreated, and for not telling our good friend Bill Clinton to stay out of this area of the world. The idea that we have no control over these things is unheard of. In the Albanian community we heard, "Americans and Albanians are brothers!" Now we seem to be personally responsible for having saved all Albanians from oppression.

[both of us]
We have several EXTREMELY busy weeks to come. We move to Gostivar on the 18th of December. We don't have a place to move to yet. Our old address will be good through our entire stay here.

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Story Source: Personal Web Site

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Macedonia; PCVs in the Field - Macedonia



By Anonymous (unknown-host.customer.tiba.com - on Sunday, August 20, 2006 - 4:03 pm: Edit Post

The Man is llike a god but not a God..He is llike a friend but nnot a friend; llike an enemy but not an enemy; like a child but not a child; llike a servant but not a servant; He is the one.

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