An afternoon in Ohrid

Sunday, March 11, 2012

O Happy Day

The end of a long winter is in sight - by the weekend temperatures are supposed to be in the mid-50's and hopefully almost all the piled up snow will melt!  Before then we have one more little snow shower forecast for tomorrow, but the signs of spring are unmistakable.  Next Wednesday is Dites e Veres for the Albanians - the day of summer!  It's a big picnic day, but this year they may have to picnic by left over snow.

Int'l Women's Day flowers!
Late winter also brings International Women's Day!  Working women are generally treated to lunch and families bring them flowers and other gifts.  This year Kerry, Elona and I celebrated by going up to my favorite restaurant in the village of Vrutok.  It is right by the origin of the Vardar river, and they've used the water from the river to make a little trout fish farm and build a restaurant on the banks of the river.  (BTW, the two big kinds of fish eaten here are trout and carp ((called crap in Macedonian)).  They farm both, and carp is surprisingly good.)  It was snowing that day, and as we climbed the hill up to Vrutok the scenery was so beautiful.  We sat by the enormous glass windows in the restaurant, and enjoyed the view of the river and trees covered with freshly fallen snow.  We had an enormous salad, hot pita bread, and fresh cooked trout and potatoes - delicious.  As we left they gave us each a carnation - they are always so friendly and welcoming!  When we returned to Gostivar Luli and the kids, Lule and Linde, were waiting with a rose for each of us.  It was truly a special day.

Yesterday was Gostivar's qualifier for the National Spelling Bee.  The National Bee has become quite an event.  Last year we had over 500 kids there, so we made the qualifiers tougher for this year, but with the growing number of communities participating, we may have as many or more this year.  We had 231 students from 5th to 12th grade turn out in Gostivar.  They had to spell 10 words from their grade's word list to qualify, and 44 kids qualified!  Each student was tested individually, so it was quite a busy day!  When a student did qualify, it was so fun to hear their friends as they walked out of the room waving their invitation to the National Bee.  They whooped and hollered and cheered!  And I can't tell you how wonderful it is to see all these kids working so hard to learn English and have to spell some pretty challenging words.  The other thing that was so cool was that it was truly a multi-ethnic event.  This year we added Turkish translations to the Albanian and Macedonian translations to encourage more Turkish students to turn out and it was successful.  Of our qualifiers, 19 were Albanian, 18 were Macedonian, and 7 were Turkish.  I am so grateful to everyone who helped:  the teenagers from the Young Men's Leadership Project, Verica from Club GLOW, the teacher from the gjimnasija, the husband of another teacher, and Sarita - all of whom helped with translations, tracking, keeping the kids under control as they waited, sometimes for a very long time, and general organization.  And a special thanks to Mustafa Qemali Ataturk School for letting us hold the qualifier there.  Now on to the National Spelling Bee on April 7th!

1 comment:

  1. Great story - I didn't know Macedonia had a significant Turkish population.