Goddess on the Throne

Living in Kosovo, I see renditions of a terra cotta figure everywhere.

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Traffic light on Bill Klinton Blvd.
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Pristina postcard

Turns out, this figure is called Goddess on the Throne, and it dates back to 4,000 B.C. It was stolen and only recently returned.

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Photo Credit: CTV News

Goddess on the Throne is now on display at The Ethnographic Museum (Muzeu Etnologjik). Unfortunately, taking photos is not allowed. 😦 I was surprised to find that she is small … only about 6 inches high!

Teaching: 15 Objects

The following is a simple exercise I created for my classes. I have named it “15 Objects” because it uses … 15 objects.

My teaching counterpart really liked this exercise. (I’m always proud when I come up with an idea she especially likes.) What I like about it is that it incorporates kinesthetic learning into the classroom, something I struggle to do. As a primarily visual learner myself, I tend to favor visual exercises.

I also like this exercise because it was easy to create, and free! I just used 15 things I found around the house and yard.

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You could use anything for this exercise. I used:

  • A piece of yarn
  • A tissue
  • A bottle cap
  • A post-it note
  • A candy wrapper
  • A Popsicle stick
  • A paper clip
  • A leaf
  • A stick
  • A rock
  • A plastic toothpick
  • A cotton ball
  • A craft googly eye
  • A button
  • A coin

I asked students to come up to the room 5 at a time and take one object from the bag I was holding. Then I asked the student to describe the object. Students answered questions like, What color is it? What shape is it? Is it big or small? Hard or soft? Thick or thin?

The kids had fun. 🙂

My PST Host Family

I spent last weekend visiting my pre-service training (PST) host family. I lived with them last June, July, and August. I hadn’t been back to visit them since.

My trip was exactly what I needed. I was in a familiar place, but a place that is no longer a part of my daily life. It gave me a break from the tedium I’ve been feeling lately. My previous village is also much prettier than where I am now. Kosovo is the first land-locked place I have ever lived. It didn’t bother me last summer, when I was surrounded by beautiful mountains. But my current village is located a valley, so it’s a flat/boring landscape with no water. It was so nice to be back in the mountains again!

I also hadn’t realized how much I miss my previous family. It’s funny — there are parallels between my two host families. Both sets of parents are ages 50-55, and both have grown sons/no daughters. But they live on opposite sides of Kosovo and have never met. Also, one family is Catholic and the other is Muslim.

Having been away from my PST host family for so long meant I had plenty to tell them. That’s one struggle I have in living with a host family — my day-to-day life is the same, so all I ever have to say is, “I went to school today. It was good.” I don’t have the language skills to talk about anything deeper or more meaningful, so I run out of topics to discuss. It was nice to be able to have a longer conversation in Shqip.

My trip there took 3 buses, 4 hours, and cost 5.50 Euro one-way (a lot, on a tiny Peace Corps budget). I was pulling my little wheelie suitcase up our dark country road I ran into my host parents, on their way to greet me. 🙂 Back at the house, I told them about life in my new village. I answered a million questions about my new host family, including “Do they make their bread or buy it?” (Yes, that was a real question.) When my host sister-in-law arrived, my host parents recounted everything I had just said to her. Then, when my host brother arrived, they recounted everything again. It was funny.

And, of course, I was excited to see the cats again!

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The Kitten then and now

Have a good weekend, everyone! I’ll talk to you on Monday.

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She looks like she’s smiling. 🙂

A Walk Around Pristina, Kosovo

I’ve visited Pristina, Kosovo’s capital city, probably dozens of times now. But I tend to follow the same path through the city, sticking to streets and places I know.

I mentioned to a friend who lives in Pristina that I wanted to explore the city a bit more. She offered to take me on walk up through a part of the city I’d never seen.

We climbed a steep hill and reached a neighborhood filled with beautiful homes.

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We ended up at a large cemetery.

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Many of the tombstones displayed pictures of the deceased.

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It is common for graves in Kosovo to have “cages” around them to keep stray dogs away.

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new-grave

We walked further.

xhamia

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Next, we came to a small park at the very top of the city.

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When we came down from the hill, we visited the Newborn sign. Here’s what the new design looks like, in person.

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New …
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born

 

Guest Bloggers: Todd and Stephanee Smith (Serving as a Married Couple in the Peace Corps)

“Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.” — Antoine De Saint-Exupery

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Thanks to April for asking us to be guest bloggers on what it’s like to serve as a married couple in the Peace Corps. As one of two married couples in our cohort, we are probably having a different experience than our fellow volunteers.

Some background: We’ve been married over 20 years, no kids, and left behind steady, comfortable jobs. We were both ready for a life and career change. It was a decision that we took very seriously, and worked through the pros and cons together. We think that when you serve as a couple, you both need to be all in because if one person has reservations, it’s going to be a difficult experience for both of you.

Pre-service training (PST) was the biggest challenge of our service. Peace Corps required us to live separately (different home/different village) for our first 3 months of training. We knew this going into our service, so it didn’t come as a surprise. And while it did allow us to have our own, separate experiences while developing our own identities within our cohort, it was definitely a very challenging experience. PST has a lot of ups and downs and when you are used to sharing those types of life experiences with your partner, and he/she isn’t around, it can be difficult. While not being able to see your partner whenever you wanted was difficult, we will say that the PST set-up did allow for a lot of interaction. Our villages were only a few miles apart and there were plenty of hub days or sector training that, for the most part, we were able to see each other in person more often than not.

Once we finished PST, however, a sense of normalcy returned. We resumed living together, cooking for ourselves, having similar schedules and just a feeling of being a married couple once again. Some advantages of serving together is that you always have someone to hang out with, whether it’s at the café, at home, dinner, or simply riding the bus. We are in the same sector so we have that in common, and we even share tutoring lessons. We always have a travel partner. Loneliness isn’t as big of an issue as it may be with other volunteers. In the winter, the advantages are even better—never underestimate the power of body heat in an unheated bedroom.

However, there are some disadvantages as well. Our language learning isn’t progressing as quickly as we would like as we always have someone to talk to in English. As a married couple, our host family gives us plenty of privacy so we probably don’t have as much interaction as many other volunteers may have with their families which also hampers our language skills. We also sometimes feel that we probably haven’t formed as many close relationships with our cohort due to the fact we have a “built-in” friend. Of course, that could be because not only are we a married couple, but we’re also older than most everyone in our cohort!

Despite some disadvantages, being a married couple has only enhanced our experiences. Neither of us can imagine trying to go through this adventure alone. We rely on one another to get through our struggles and are able to enjoy small successes together. So far, our experience in the Peace Corps has been pretty much what we expected. Some ups, some downs; but all made easier by having someone to share it with.

April’s Note: Happy Valentine’s Day! If you’d like to read more from other guest bloggers, here are some links:

A Mysterious Phrase

I’ve been on a hunt for the last week or so to discover the meaning of a mysterious phrase. It’s something my host mother says often: “të myt e dala.” (Sounds something like “tuh-meet-uh-dala.”)

My host brother speaks some English, so I asked him what it means. He said he he didn’t know. He said it might be a phrase borrowed from Turkish.

Side note: Not only are there two different major dialects of Shqip (Albanian), there are also words borrowed from other languages, like Turkish and Serbian, and then also different regional words and phrases. It’s a wonder people in Kosovo can understand each other. (And good luck if you’re a foreigner.)

I decided to ask my pre-service training (PST) language teacher about this mysterious phrase. I even had my host brother type out the text message for me, so I could be sure it was spelled correctly. (My host family was laughing as we did. I think they were amused by my determination to figure it out). Well, my PST language teacher said he didn’t know what it means. He lives in a different region of Kosovo and had never heard “të myt e dala.”

The next day at school, I asked one of my counterparts what it means. She started to laugh. She told me “të myt” means “to kill,”but then hastily added, “It’s a joke.” Then she told me she didn’t know how to further explain it in English.

“Does it mean, ‘I’m going to kill you?'” I asked.

Nope, that’s wasn’t it.

By that point, I was super curious to know what “të myt e dala” means. How can people use it and yet not be able to explain it?

A few days later, I asked my Shqip tutor what it means. Then she started to laugh. She reiterated that “të myt” means “to kill,” but in a joking way. She also didn’t know how to explain the rest, but promised she would find an answer.

“You’re the fourth Albanian I’ve asked!” I told her.

I saw her again the following day, and I FINALLY got my answer! (She’d gone home the previous night and asked her parents.)

“Të myt e dala,” means … “May the cholera kill you.”

Happy Monday! 🙂

TEFL/ESL Activities Using Little or No Resources, V3

I typed the following into a PDF that you can download here: tefl-esl-activities-using-little-to-no-resources-v3

First/Last
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

Introductions
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.

Simon Says
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.”

Take Off/Touchdown
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.

Number Jump
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.

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Number Jump

Rainstorm
(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
-Snap fingers
-Clap hands
-Slap thighs
-Stomp feet
(Now, getting softer)
-Slap thighs
-Clap hands
-Snap fingers
-Rub hands together

You can see TEFL/ESL Activities Using Little to No Resources version 1 and version 2 by clicking on the links.