16 September 2009

school started

chestit pervi ucheven den!
wait, i can't do this.
i know i'm supposed to be reporting on how magical it is that all the little kiddies are in school now, screaming their heads off-- BUT

have you ever really considered the balkan peninsula?  i mean really, really? let me give you a moment:  THE BALKAN PENINSULA. IS A PLACE. THAT EXISTS.
as a high schooler a favorite and previously mentioned history teacher would ask us to name the countries on the peninsula and I always cheated and started at the south with Greece since I didn't know where the top of the darn thing actually was. here's a quick geo lesson:

the mountains at the top, they're the BALKAN mountains and if you want to learn some quick bulgarian language, here's a word: BALKAN. it means MOUNTAIN.  eeeeeasy, huh?  and now you can see, as i was never explicitly shown, the two bodies of water on either side, the adriatic sea which connects to the black sea on the eastern side via the mediterranean and aegean seas and finally through the bosporus and dardanelles straits, which have their own stories involving russia, turkey, warm water ports, and a whole 1,000 more years of history and blog posts.  so there's us, chilling near asia, kindof, not technically although the EU won't let Turkey in.  that's us, the END of EUROPE over here.  
and not that i'm adopting any bulgarian nationalism or anything but just to let you know, the HIGHEST PEAK in the BALKANS belongs within our borders. 

13 September 2009


in an email from my chilean host mother:

"Espero tengas una agradable estadía en Bulgaria y aprovecha de vivir en esa paz de pueblo, que pocas veces en la vida la tendrás"

I hope you have a nice stay in Bulgaria and take advantage of living in the peace of the village, which few times in your life you will have.

It was just so eloquently put in Spanish, complete with my favorite verb - aprovechar - to take advantage.  What a nice reminder.

11 September 2009

zalata e gotova

today a nice 16 year old young man joined me on the steps of the chitalishte as i waited in vain for my piano students to arrive.  we chatted a little, we sat in awkward silence as he drank out of a glass coke bottle, he left to "play basketball" and returned 8 minutes later, not explaining why.  finally i said "can you teach me bulgarian?" and he replied, "no, but i can teach you turkish".
he then taught me a phrase i have since forgotten, which meant "we're going".
after i repeated it three times he finally said (in bg) "haide- let's go then."
me: where?
him: to the gym. it's open.
me: who did you ask?
him: the aunties (the ladies who clean the school)
me: are you sure?
him: (turkish phrase meaning let's go)

so we stroll over to school, after he offers me his bike to ride, and i walk into the teachers room and ask for the keys and all the ladies look at me and say, "NE, directora kazva NE".  my mind flashes back 5 days, 5 separate days in which i've heard that phrase.  what happened is, they did in fact ask if they could play in the gym, but the answer was not yes.

recently (actually all summer) our school gym has been renovated by the ministry of natural disasters (not lying) and as of monday it was officially "finished".  aforementioned child knocked on my window monday night in the middle of a rain storm to ask if we could play in it, and the next day we went only to be told "it's not ready, it needs to be cleaned."  in my naievete, the boys asked me every single day since then, each time saying, "it's ready now".  somewhere between the translation and my willingness to trust i never quite clarified if it was in fact ready, and on all of these days it was not.  it was not until today that i realized how silly it was of me to let them drag me back and forth to this gym which they are dying to get into, and how much of a nice distraction it has been.  if they ask tomorrow, i'll probably go again.

07 September 2009

rainy days and mondays always get me down

last night i rolled into the po-dunk train station around 8:45pm, waiting for my ride in the rain.  it was my counterpart/boss' husband, and as i awkwardly got into his car (which i didn't recognize as she usually sends her son to pick me up) he looked at me and said "summer's over now".  i'm not sure on what level he really meant it-- i assume he was referring to the cold and damp weather, but my mind quickly wandered to thoughts of school starting next week, no more quick trips to varna, no more laying on the beach and spending the afternoon in a cafe.  as a summer person, these facts sadden me greatly.

the weather today turned very chilly and wet, which is not how i prefer my fall.  chilly i can handle, but wet is another story.  it rained all day and i holed up in my house as much as i could, taking respite from the storm and trying to mentally prepare myself for the next 9 months ahead.  this morning, while still at school, two of my girls rolled in with down vests and a busted umbrella.  i had meant to excuse them from our daily english lesson but had forgotten, and so since they had already walked to school we went into the classroom and they recounted their weekend to me.  watching them from where i sat at the teacher's desk, i realized that soon the hallways would be filled, the desks would have more students with more stories and more excitement, and that soon i would become a fixture in their lives.  

somehow i have been blessed with a very detailed and emotional memory, and the past few days in school have reminded me of the time i spent in my elementary school.  i remember the fluorescent lighting, the orange/brown carpets, the name of every teach i had, the location of each classroom, the "media center" (why couldn't they just call it a library?) the place on the bookshelves where i started reading books with chapters.  i remember all the teachers, they were all women, standing in the hallways, smiling, making sure we behaved and listening to our stories and always working hard and never showing any effort.  and now that's me.  or at least, it's supposed to be me.
part of me feels like the kids will see right through me, that they know i've never taught in a classroom and that i don't know the proper structure of a lesson plan or teaching theory and that i honestly do not understand the bulgarian education system.  what if they find me out? not really left with a choice; i've just got to fake it until i make it.  i just wonder if in 18 years some little girl will remember me, standing in the hall, the youngest teacher, the american girl who was only slightly out of place, a face in a memory of someone who was always smiling.