Saturday, February 25, 2006

for real this time!

Okay, before I get started- South Dakota should immediately be forced out of the Union. And mike rounds...well, I'll pretend that the things I have to say about him and the state legislatrue are prohibited by the FCC. I'm really tired of people who think that changing a roe v. wade decision will only change a women's right to choose. In reality, if this case were ever overturned, it would affect a lot of court-cases UNrelated to a woman's right to choose. ack.

but let's talk about me :)

One important thing that I left off of the last post is the other committee I'm on- Team travel. Sounds official, doesn't it? well, I don't really care about the committee...the point is, its set up for traveling to the November 5th Athens Marathon!!!!! that's right, 26.2 miles, here I come!! Last year, a group of volunteers (10 or so) ran the Athens marathon. my group has thus decided to keep the "tradition" alive, and there are currently 20 of us planning to run the marathon. SO if you've thought to yourself "I want to run a marathon!" and "I want to see toni!" then make plans to come to Greece in the first weekend of november! Rumor has it that people there speak english! no you have NO more excuses!

Yesterday, my friend Ogniana or "ogi" (from "fire") had her 23 birthday!! we met up after work, and then i went to her family's house. A lot of her friends are out of the country (normal for young ppl in bulgaria- its the only way to find a job), so her birthday was really relaxed. I love spending time with her family! they are SO incredibly nice to me, and whenever I have a bad day or I am consumed with something, they have this uncanny ability of erasing that. They are remarkable hospitable and kind people. Anyway, the day of bulgarian independance is coming up next week, so I earned big points with her dad by asking about the holiday and how its celebrated. bulgarians love bulgaria! So yeah, i have had a TERRIBLE week, but by the time I left their house last night, I felt ready to face the world again.

On sunday, I am leaving Pernik for Stara Zagora! in addition to being the home of one of my friends, there is a peace corps conference on grant writting! I am pretty excited about it
a)because I hardly ever travel out of the sofia region
b) all my friends will be there (ahhh, reunions and english speakers!)
c) it will be a really valuable experience for my NGO!
The workshops is from Monday - Wednesday, and during that time, we will learn some spefics on writting projects for USAID, and other funding organizations. Espeically since my organization has absolutely NO money (and hasn't for the past 3 years...) this will be a very good workshop for us.

Last weekend, I spent most of my time in sofia, because a former volunteer from my town got MARRIED!!! it was pretty exciting to see his family pour in and get ready for the wedding here. And even though his brothers don't speak the language, they did a pretty good job trying to set up some "normal" social activities for the friends and wedding party. On friday night, we went out to a club in "studentski grad" (university town, basically) and hung out there until the wee hours of the morning.

Bulgarian independance day is March 3rd, which means I get to enjoy my first national, non-religious holiday since I've been a volunteer! Anyway, find any old bulgarian man, and he will gladly tell you the story of bulgaria under the turkish empire/turkish yoke. Last night, my friend's dad, Paulo, finshed the story with "and we have been free ever since!" to which his wife replied "except for communism!" it was a hilarious moment for me, though perhaps, just because I understood the whole converstation!

Starting on the 1st of march, some of the sofia region volunteers (Myself, Andrea, Boudreaux (married couple) and Randy) will start an advanced english discussion club in the Sofia public library. There was an initial meeting last monday, but most of us weren't able to make it. Anyway, for about an 1 once to twice per week, we will get to sit down with a group of bulgarians who speak excellent english, and get to ask them about anything we want!! This is always a good opportunity to learn about bulgarian culture and holidays, or any other information that we dont understand. For example if you see a story on the news that you don't quite understand, it becomes perfect material for the group! The topic focuses on current affiars, so WE are learning more, and the Buglarians get to practice their english! Perfect symbiotic relationiship!

Today I am resgistering to take the foreign service exam! While I highly doubt that I can pass both the written and the oral exam, its a good opportunity to take a crack at the test before I am truely "serious" about entering the foreign service. I think I am going to try for the Political track, which is the most competative, but also the most relevant in terms of my major at vandy.

Other than that, Peace Corps had a discussion with me yesterday about wheither or not I want to stay at my host organization. Things have been a bit "rough" for the past couple of weeks, climaxing this week with my counterpart (think: bulgarian coworker who is your main contact in the organization) spreading rumors about me. He has also been lying to a lot of people. The biggest thing, however, was an argument that we had over this grant-writting workshop in stara zagora. Isai (counterpart) has to find a new job somewhere, because the NGO has no money and he has a family with three kids. This is defiantely understandable, and I would never think that someone should be prevented from taking care of their family. however, Isai will not be in our NGO's office to actaully help pass on the information gathered from this training- this means it is a wasted resource and opportunity for our NGO. Peace Corps suggested that someone else from our NGO attend the workshop- it would be stupid to train someone who won't be present during working hours to help me write a grant. This did not go over so well, and so Isai has basically refused to talk to me for several days, won't answer the phone when I call. SO peace corps offered me the opportunity to change sites. For right now, i am going to stay where I am, and see if these problems can't be resolved. I am really happy with the town I am in, and the youth i am working with- so its pretty hard for me to pick up and move. At the same time, I have to wonder what I am putting myself through...

but on a brighter note, Mike Robie from vanderbilt, who is a PCV in the republic of georgia, was online today! we spent about 2 hours talking and catching up on what's happening in our countries, with our friends at vandy, etc. it was SO fun to have that opportunity to see what is different beteween our countries, etc. If all goes well, we are going to meet up somewhere in Europe this summer! maybe bulgaria, maybe germany, who knows!!!

okay, have a great week, and send me some emails!


At 11:44 PM, Anonymous sarahthustra said...

yeah, south dakota has joined texas on my list of states the union should abort. there were 4 other states considering the same legislation though (tennessee is one of them) so we can't blame sd for all of it. your legislature just happened to jump on it first.


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