30 March 2010


this is me wanting to give MAD PROPS to my school principal, who also happens to be my peace corps counterpart.

compared to most bulgarian schools ours is very, very tame. there are no problems with drugs, only 2 students smoke cigarettes, and the fights seem to dissipate as quickly as they form. but this doesn't mean that the kids don't need a little reminder of who's the boss every now and then. a select handful of students, mostly from higher grades, need a serious lesson in respect and responsibility, and today they got it.
my second period was with seventh grade, in which i have a terrible student who acts out at any chance he gets. this kid is my height, skinny but strong, and has a temper to rival any i've seen. today he just wouldn't sit down, wouldn't stop talking, wouldn't stop bothering other kids and bossing them around. i got more and more angry and frustrated, feeling that my options for punishment were very limited, because no matter what, i refuse to hit these children. as he walked behind me i asked for the umpteenth time "please, sit down", and i tried to catch him around the waist so as to direct him back towards his seat. it turns out my balance was off, and since he didn't go back to his seat but continued on his own path he ended up almost pulling me out of the chair, completely by accident, but also because he just WOULDN'T LISTEN to me.
i tried not to get upset or show my embarrassment, but i decided it was the last straw. i opened the grade book and gave him the lowest grade i could for the month. i said nothing, but pretty soon someone told him and his fuse was lit. he stood up and kicked his desk, hard, recoiled as if he was thinking of hitting me, then sat down and proceeded to cuss me out in turkish. i ignored him.
i made it out of class slightly frazzled, but continued on with the day. at the end of the next period, the boy's homeroom teacher had heard from the students what had happened. he was called into the teacher's room, given a good lecture and made to apologize to me. but the best part is what happened next, after fourth period, during our "long break".

the director gathered all the students outside, and then one by one called up these select brats who day after day disrespect us all and act out. she didn't insult anyone or use unnecessarily harsh words, but reiterated the severity of their poor behavior and disobedience. standing in front of the whole student body, they all were suddenly quiet. a boy from eighth grade, who gives me the most grief simply because he is spoiled and can't stay quiet for three consecutive minutes, was suddenly muted in the face of humiliation. it turns out he and another boy had made a female classmate cry. one of my seventh grade girls, who had skipped english class to go have "a meeting" (with her boyfriend) started crying while she was being yelled at. and after all the reprimanding, my director commanded them to sweep the schoolyard and for all the other students to watch them.

YES! i couldn't have been happier or more proud of the discipline in our school. other volunteers talk about their colleagues' lack of interest, but today i saw the exact opposite in mine. it was time to put her foot down, and that's exactly what the director did. anyone can give up on these kids, let them grow up to be disrespectful and disobedient, but it takes a lot of strength to correct them and punish them so as to teach them appropriate behavior. bulgarians tend to have a lackadaisical attitude towards problems, and a lot of them wait for someone else to come along and fix them. i have to say Bravo to Aysel, who today took on the responsibility of cultivating a better generation of kids. may she continue to kick little snotty kids' butts whenever they are in need of kicking (figuratively).

28 March 2010

the forest and the trees

"before you know it it will be summer, and then it will be fall, and then it will be winter all over again."

without being terribly cliche, i'm finding it hard to describe exactly how wonderful it is to continue to turn and live in this circle of seasons. we had our first village wedding this weekend, a precursor of what is to be the primary diversion for summer weekends, what was my favorite activity last summer, and what will continue to happen every summer into infinity and so on and so on.
life is turning its wheel, and we are living. work, play, vacations, weddings, naps, laundry, grocery shopping. life.

I got all dressed up on Friday night!

"...and the seasons they go round and round..." -joni mitchell, the circle game

11 March 2010

it's a party in the U S A


Spring is SUCKING so far. But only in the most dramatic way possible. About 11 days ago a few boys from the village went back to work in Paris, and I've been using this as an excuse to be MOPEY. I've been trying to articulate whatever sort of weird emotional attachment/crush/common interest that has been deleted since their departure, but every time it just doesn't seem worth it. And as I sat down at the computer yesterday to write about how sad I was, this arrived at my window.

So check out my loot from my big sis-- American Candy. My favorite and most missed item. Super cute reusable sandwich bags, sure to boggle the minds of every Bulgarian they cross. A rad little make-up bag/clutch. Perfect for my birthday outfit. Very adorable button headband. AND a movie with John Krasinksi. It's like she knew that with the absence of these boys, I'd have nothing to do this weekend. SHE IS RIGHT. ALSO, SHE IS BOMB. These are the raddest bday presents ever.

So I've just been listening to a lot of Passion Pit and MGMT and Carly Simon and trying to pump myself up for my birthday party. Mostly, I want to listen to this all night:

I don't think my village friends or American friends will have that, at all.

01 March 2010

the Rites of Spring

March 1 is a day that I have always sortof awaited with baited breath-- being narcissistic and impatient, this date signals basically one thing - countdown to my BIRTHDAY. I love being a March baby, because a March baby is on the cusp of both seasons. As I am ever reminded by my village, I was born under the sign of Pisces, which makes me creative and sensitive. I have never been one to commit to liking spring and as much as I despise the winter I understand its value-- the time between these two seasons is a transition, representing both the cold and contemplative and the new and fresh. I guess I feel I can relate to this semi-Bi-polarism?

Today in Bulgarian culture is BABA MARTA, or Grandmother March's Day. Baba Marta is the personification of spring, a temperamental woman who sends rain showers as well as sunshine. For luck, everyone has been passing out little red and white bracelets, pins and decorations and wishing each other health, happiness, love and luck for the rest of the year. I have been wished "a very nice boyfriend" several times (of course). Let me just say that this holiday is bomb. I bought some cute little ties in Silistra over the weekend and have been given the opportunity to act like a middle schooler by giving everyone a kind of "Best Friends for Life" bracelet without seeming completely cheesy. The Bulgarians are also eating up the fact that I knew about this holiday and was prepared for it. Please, guys, would I pass up a day to get give and get presents? No.

So, we will wear our martinitsa s until we first see a stork, who is the harbinger of spring, or so they say. When he returns from his winter migration and settles into his giant nest, we will remove the pins and tie the bracelets to any fruit bearing tree for good luck until next year. Chestita Baba Marta!!