Monday, October 25, 2010

Halloween in Bulgaria

Halloween for me in Bulgaria is officially finished!! There were times when I thought it would never be done with..but the 5th-7th grade students really seemed to enjoy it. Unfortunately, like all well planned activities in Bulgaria, there was a challenging, very challenging (for me) catch. I pretty much expected around 50 or so kids; but, upon arriving, there is a hall full of even younger kids. The 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade teachers seemed to think it would be a good idea to bring their students, right..NOOOO

But anyways, the 2 hours passed by so fast..all of the teachers that never showed up to help the prior week (after they had specifically mentioned they would be there)..miraculously appeared, thinking that I would desert the kids to chat with them and try to explain what was going on.. Sorry, no more venting.

Here are the highlights from last Friday and today. Last week we decorated the gym. The students worked hard at making masks, decorations, spiders, spiderwebs, posters, and giant crossword puzzles for a competition between the classes. They also learned the password to enter the party – Trick or Treat. Later, we went to the school’s home ec kitchen and made the dough for chocolate chip cookies (this was a first for everyone but me :) to a lack of teachers helping, the day ended badly..I will leave it at that.

Today..we had no music, since everyone I asked indicated that they, and the school, have no speakers we could use..and let’s face it..with as many kids as there were, we wouldn’t have been able to hear it anyways. However, to continue..we did have many wonderfully carved pumpkins. I was really impressed. We also had a Halloween crossword puzzle competition (in English of course) between each of the classes. The 5th graders won!! I’m pretty sure the 7th graders were a little more into taking pictures of all the fabulous costumes. We had a fun time at apple which I took part of :)

We also decorated pumpkins that were not carved, with pieces of vegetables to make funny faces. We had a box to vote for everyone’s favorite mask (we had made masks the prior week, and they were labeled and posted on the wall)..we had a costume contest..but my favorite part was the scary story contest. At first, all but one girl said they didn’t have a scary story to tell..but we still went to a dark corner with a lit jack-o-lantern..and, it went so well, that after the party, we went back to the corner to tell more scary stories.

So..what did I learn from this Halloween..well, I guess one factor never changes’s hard to find dependable adults. Without fail, the children showed up. I can only hope they continue in this pattern as they grow be dependable. Also, I learned a lot about the students themselves. I saw their creative sides come out. Just check out some of my newly posted pics on the link at the bottom of this page. They were creative in making their masks, and all the decorations. They stayed after to help clean up..many even stayed to help calm me of my little melt-down on Friday.

It’s good to have Halloween it’s just that deadline looming for the online paper. It’s definitely getting there. The student writers really liked the press passes I made up and laminated for them.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I don’t remember if I’ve mentioned that two days a week I work in villages, and on those mornings I have to be at the bus stop by 7am..this is the hardest thing for me, being on time for these busses. But the hospitality in these villages make up for having to get up so early. At my Tuesday village there are two café’s..only one is open this I’ve been getting to know the villagers since I drink coffee there every Tuesday while waiting for the cultural center secretary. It’s funny, if one of them dares to start talking to me, the others will pipe in with questions every time..and I put up posters to recruit students for English of course, I’m gonna talk about it at the café. When I suggested English classes there, they all said no one would come..well, we started this week with enough students for at least 3 groups..older and let’s see if I can retain them :)

So..this morning, when Veselina arrives, I’m thinking we’re going to the cultural center..but, surprise for me..this is a holiday for St. Ivan Rilski (he is remembered as a miracle worker..and founded the well-known Rila Monastery in Bulgaria). There is a small monastery in this village, and many of the villagers, that means me and Veselina, and the mayor, and assistant mayor as well. And then..I had a great surprise this evening as well. A bunch of my friends were getting together to see a dance production by Neshka Robeva..I was not quite sure what to expect. In a way, it kinda reminded me of my favorite dance show I ever saw in Boston ‘Burn the floor’It was had some really cute parts that I wish I had video of..i loved the music. I wish it was like in the USA..where they market everything..I really want the music. So, as we’re getting ready to leave, I hear ‘Tricia’ behind me..and as luck would have it, a friend from Lyaskovets had been directly behind need to pay 10 BGN for a cab..Sometimes Bulgaria is sooo very small..but in a good way

I heard from one of my colleagues in school (since I wasn’t there today)..that the school is overflowing with pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns brought in by students for the big Halloween party Monday!

Monday, October 18, 2010

halloween, online newspaper, life

Today was mask-making day in Maxim Raykovich..I’m helping the 5th-7th graders pull together a Halloween party. It’s great to see the creativity of the students. We are having 2 for the best mask (scariest, prettiest, and unique), and the 2nd is the scariest story (which they will tell in the gym, with the lights turned out and Jack-o-lanterns lit). I have seriously been visiting English classes all week long to have discussions about Halloween in the USA..all the teachers have a short history of Halloween (in English) with quizzes for the students. Everyone has started bringing in all kinds of materials for Halloween (of course including carved jack-o-lanterns..I’m impressed with their participation. This Friday, we’re going to bake chocolate chip cookies in the cooking room downstairs..i’m thinking I might have to limit the participants..i got a little overwhelmed with the number of kids who showed up for making masks. We also made a bunch of spiders out of construction we just need the spiderweb, and one group made some awesome glow-in-the-dark bats. But I have to admit..I’ll be happy to be done. Even with the help of the teachers and students, it’s a lot of preparation.

..and unfortunately, my online newspaper team is slightly behind schedule for our first issue to be up on November 1st. I have a motivated team to work with to develop Maxim Raykovich’s first-ever online school newspaper. We have found a site to host us. We have stories, video clips, essays, a poll, a photo gallery..and our first issue will come out November 1st (hopefully). I will post the link to my website when it’s up. The majority of the paper will be in Bulgarian..however there will be a section from me..strictly in English, and many interesting pics in the photo gallery.

..and my Business English class and Junior Achievement started this week. I am really excited about the Junior Achievement class..but the students seem to be more excited about the Business English class. We’ll see, as the weeks progress.

..and most of all, I am looking forward to my reward to myself for working so hard to get everything up and running with the new organizations. Halloween weekend, I’m headed to Croatia. I’ve got my fingers crossed for good weather, and a relaxing trip..even though I know when I travel with Bulgarians they talk, they drink (rakia), they dance, they shop, they go, and go, and go. I’m sure it will be a fun trip.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Bulgarians and Americans often ask me, ‘Do you like Bulgaria’, or ‘Why do you like Bulgaria’. This past weekend is a perfect example of what I really like about living here. Hiking, visiting interesting historical places, meeting new hiking friends and chatting, seeing wild pigs, eating, drinking, and dancing till early morning. I understand very well that Bulgaria has many problems..but I also like to them to recognize how rich they are because of their beautiful nature, and close knit families.

I headed with one of my favorite hiking groups to Byalarusse where we saw the ‘Medieval’ town of Cherven..this town was a thriving center, including many types of craftsmanship before before being conquered by the Turks. If you look through my recent pictures, you’ll see only the remnants of the city. We also went to see the Ivanovo Monastery in the Rocks..long ago it was a functioning church, built right into the rocks..many of the wall paintings were still there (my camera didn’t take very good pics..I only kept one), but you can see many other pictures at this site:

Then, we went to a functioning monastery in the rocks, Barsarbovo Monastery, very pretty. But, one of my favorite parts is always the festive evenings. Everyone brings a little food to the Hija (hut), and it turns into a feast of food, drinking, and dancing. No one is standoffish like many of the social functions I’ve been to in Boston. Everyone sings. I wish I had taken a video clip, but I was having too much fun.