Saturday, August 15, 2015

Getting Back To Work

Okay, that title is misleading.

Language training is work, hard work, and fun (except when it isn't...I am still reminding myself to be thankful for that extra time in language because not only did I really solidify my skills but I also really solidified friendships with several of the teachers. That is something to be grateful for.), but it is nice to be back doing what I joined the Service to do.

I just finished my first full week on the job and am finally about over my jet lag. And is a week that has me really enthusiastic for the next two years.

First, and most important to me personally, it looks like my dog will arrive on Wednesday. If you are the praying/positive energy sending/finger and toe crossing sort, please do so for her. One of my awesome new colleagues is travelling to the states and is bringing Noostie back with him on Tuesday. Apparently there is a total embargo on bringing pets to Pristina as cargo but you can bring them as excess baggage. I tried to send her to Vienna and have a shipper drive her here, but even that proved too much. So this colleague is saving me a trip back to the states...I definitely owe him his favorite alcoholic beverage (or five) of choice!

Second, I have been able to do some actual Public Diplomacy work. Our section was a part of Dokufest, an annual 8-day International Documentary and Short Film Festival held in Prizren that draws artists and audiences from across the region and the world. We sponsored some American films there as well as an American Night reception in Prizren. The reception was well attended, and we arranged interviews between the press and some of the American directors. Plus, I was able to meet some of our folks from our American Corner there.

America Night reception
It was my first time to visit Prizren, but I will definitely be back. Because...castle!

Apparently we gave a pretty massive grant to Kosovo for the restoration of part of the castle, so you know, I HAVE to check on that!

Plus, I have to go back and see the churches there. I tried, unsuccessfully to visit this one.

Orthodox church in Prizren
This is an Orthodox Church in Prizren, right by where we held our reception. I tried to visit the church and photograph it, but was asked to leave the courtyard by a Serbian-speaking guard, possibly because I spoke to him in Albanian (Serbian-speaking colleagues have been allowed to go inside). Note to self: use English when trying to visit churches. Kosovo is an interesting place.

Orthodox churches aside, I am finding many opportunities to use my language here. For example, two of our Albanian teachers are in Kosovo, so twice this week we had dinners out that involved lots of speaking in Shqip (Albanian). One involved lots of Shqip and a Proper Pizza the size of our table and the other involved less Shqip but traditional Albanian food.

A proper pizza from Proper Pizza

Biftek në gurë

Tavë Shtëpie
I also had a meeting this week with someone seeking a grant who didn't speak English very well. So I said we should do the meeting in Shqip. And we did. I understood him completely except for a few words in gheg that I had my local staff member explain to me. And he seemed to understand me. My staff member also said to me that I speak freely and comfortably in Shqip. I am pretty proud of that.

In fact, I asked him to help me by speaking to me in Shqip and to teach me some gheg. But I told him that it helped me when he spoke more slowly.

So he said he would speak vvveeeeerrryyyyyyyy sssslllloooowwwwwlllly. Just like that. But in Shqip. :)

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