The other week, my counterpart created a questionnaire for our students to fill out about themselves. One of the questions was, “Who is your favorite music artist?” A 5th grade girl had replied, “Baby G.” When we left the room, my counterpart and I looked at each other and asked, “Who is Baby G?”
After a quick Google search in the teacher’s lounge, we found this music video.
I usually catch up on my Albanian music video watching while I’m on the bus, as some of the buses here have TVs. I saw the following two videos and then later described them to my counterpart to find out what they were.
The shirtless dude in pink, who looks like Pauly Shore, caught my attention in this next video. (Such a great look.)
I described this last music video as, “a big guy wearing a striped shirt,” and my counterpart was able to figure out who I was talking about based on my description.
What I love is his commitment to laziness. He can’t even be bothered to dance. He just waves his arms around half-heartedly. I also appreciate his commitment to bold fashion choices.
If you just can’t get enough Albanian music videos, I also wrote this post over the summer.
I’ll admit, I’ve been feeling down lately. I think it’s a combination of re-adjusting to life after vacation, a few disagreements with my host family, the frigid/snowy weather (I hear you guys back in the States are having a mild winter. Must be nice!), and starting a new year in Kosovo (what to do after Peace Corps has been weighing on my mind lately, even though the end is a year and a half away).
If anything helped to cheer me up this week, it was that my care package from my parents finally showed up! (After two months.) (Also, this may be the girliest care package ever.)
I re-read Faithful Place. Why can’t all novels be written by Tana French?
I finished The Buddha and the Borderline, about a woman’s struggle living with Borderline Personality Disorder. I found this to be an insightful read, though if you’re not a mental health professional (or diagnosed with BPD or know someone who is), this may not interest you.
Two of my friends/fellow Peace Corps Volunteers have posted interesting projects that I wanted to share:
Sierra is working with her host family to create videos showing how to make traditional Kosovar foods. I especially liked her baklava video. I also have a new appreciation for baklava. I had no idea it was so time consuming to make! You can watch the video here.
Val launched a blog called Balkan Book Reviews, where she is writing reviews of books that specifically have to do with the Balkans.
Have students write instructions on how to do something, using “first, then, later, next, last …” etc. Examples: How to tie your shoe, how to bake a cake
Pass around a roll of toilet paper. Tell students to take as many squares as they want, without telling them why. Once all students have at least one piece, go around the room and have each student tell something about themselves (one fact per each square).
Just a Minute
Write a list of topics, spread across the blackboard. Have students take turns throwing a paper ball at the board. Have them talk for 30 seconds – 1 minute on whatever topic they choose.
Classic. Either the teacher or a student leads, saying “Simon says …” followed by a command (example: touch your head). Students are “out” if they perform a task that wasn’t precluded by “Simon says.”
Either the teacher or a student can lead this. Begin with students seated. Give a statement and have students stand if that statement applies to them. Example: “Stand up if you have a sister.” Have students sit back down between each statement.
Write the words and numbers for 1-10 separately on pieces of 8×10 paper. Also include a piece of paper with “start” written on it. Line the papers upon the floor. Have a “jumping contest” to see which student can jump to the highest number. Have students repeat the number each classmate jumps to.
(Note: This doesn’t use language, but is a good way to “warm up” the classroom, so I am including it here.)
Have students stand up.
Silently, have them follow along to create a “rainstorm,” using the following actions.
(To begin: Getting louder)
-Rub hands together
(Now, getting softer)
-Rub hands together
You can see TEFL/ESL Activities Using Little to No Resources version 1 and version 2 by clicking on the links.
If you ask anyone from Kosovo what their favorite city in Kosovo is, the answer will invariably be “Prizren.”
I’d only been to Prizren once before, since it’s not the easiest place for me to get to. But as I mentioned, we had a week off of school due to the extreme cold, and I’d been sitting around the house a lot. When my friend Charlie asked if I wanted to take a day trip to Prizren, I said yes!
To quote Lonely Planet: “Seated at the foot of the Shar mountains and close to the Rahovec wine region, Kosovo’s second city packs a heavy punch with its rich history, traditional handicraft shops and gastronomic delights. Mix that with incredible nearby nature and a renowned summer film festival, and you have a ‘must-see’ destination to add to your Balkan travel itinerary.” (You can read more of that article here.)
This is the classic shot everyone takes of Prizren:
Charlie and I met up with Sierra and Chelsea. We walked around the city a little bit and stopped for coffee.
Sierra and Chelsea had to leave to catch their respective buses. Charlie and I still had a bit of time left, so we decided to hike up to the Prizren Fortress. According to Wikipedia, it is “a medieval fortress which once served as the capital of the Serbian empire.”
Had the weather been better, our hike might not have seemed like such a feat. However, the roads and foot paths weren’t cleared, so we hiked up a sheet of ice and snow. But the view at the top was totally worth it. (And after a week of sitting around the house, it felt good to use my muscles again!)
At the beginning of December, before a week-long Peace Corps training, I was hanging out with some other volunteers in Pristina. They were going to a poetry slam competition at a local high school. Since I had nothing else to do, I decided to tag along. Honestly, I expected to be bored for two hours. (How exciting can a high school poetry slam competition be, #amIright?) But I was absolutely BLOWN AWAY by the talent of these students.
Another volunteer helped judge the competition, and she put me in touch with Alba Arifi, who wrote my favorite poem. Alba has graciously agreed to allow me to post her poem, Hello!, on this blog. So without further adieu …
Hello! by Alba Arifi
You know me, for sure.
I come from far away, risen from the ashes of my childhood
Hello! I know this is unexpected
You never thought you’d see me again, for sure.
But I saw you today
So I thought I’d say hello!
Not that I am a big fan, I already have your signature, written all over me.
Not that I wanted to hear your voice,
It still haunts me in the dark, like a terrifying lullaby that takes your sleep away.
Not that I missed your touch, for I can still feel it, everyday, every minute, ripping away my purity.
Because I still have trouble breathing from the day you used my halo to choke me on my innocence
Hello! I’m the one you left in ruins, you said you mean no harm, and I didn’t know you have no idea what “no harm” means.
Hello! The ghost of the past Christmas.
Not pleased to see you here, on the bus, who knew! You’re just another person.
Isn’t it funny? How no one in this bus has any idea what a horrifying beast you are,
how that young lady sits next to you,
never knowing what you are.
Makes you really wonder,
how many vicious animals do we cross paths with,
never to know what they really are.
Hello! I want to ask you if you know that your touch is some kind of dark magic.
Do you know that it can ruin a life?
Hello! I wanted my first time to be special,
with someone I feel deeply for but I didn’t mean this.
Because I feel a deep hate for you,
but I meant for it to be love.
I never asked for it to be THIS “special”
I wanted to remember my first time, but I guess I should have been more careful with what I wished for, because now I can never get it out of my mind.
Perhaps the best way to improve memory is trying to forget
See, wishes do come true.
Hello! I’m sorry for disturbing,
I just want to feed you with a little of this poetic poison inside of me.
From the touch that I deeply abhor
Make you eat the forbidden fruit that feeds your ego
And take from me the felicity that makes me whole.
And when the night comes, I’m stuck with the ambiguousity of life
“To be or not to be?”
From what I’ve tasted of sorrow
I stand with those who live for tomorrow
Even though life made me the prey
with my pain I’ll be the hunter
And I’ll sure make you pay
In a non poetic way.