Monday, October 26, 2009

The Scarf of Many Meanings

At the end of November the BB Alumni are helping host a fundraising event for the current BB students which will hopefully include potential corporate sponsors. As part of the program, we will be auctioning off items that we brought back from our placements. Although my item is a modest, pashmina scarf, the story behind it is what truly matters the most to me. I hope that the person purchasing the scarf will be able to appreciate the memory and life-changing experience that the item represents. The following will be featured on the back of my favourite Sarajevo post card, and will hopefully be placed near the item during the auction:

The Scarf of Many Meanings

On my last day in Bosnia, I saw things in a whole new light. I had the opportunity to relive a day in Sarajevo- Bosnia Herzegovina’s capital city- and finally experience all the little things I missed the first time around. I.e., I started to notice the countless painted rose petals on the pavement honouring those killed during the war of the 90s, I got to visit the different religious buildings that represented hope for unity and acceptance among diverse ethnicities in Bosnia Herzegovina. Watching the elderly strategically make their move using chess pieces on a human-sized board while finally seeing inside the soul of someone I shared the majority of three months with but never really knowing as a person was remarkable. There in the heart of Sarajevo, while taking in its diverse food, culture, language and markets I was finally able to ‘just be’.

This scarf represents a moment in time. It represents my final day in a country that welcomed and accepted me. It represents a country that was torn apart and is still trying to recover. It represents hope. It represents an experience that truly changed me as a person, making me want a more fulfilled life where capitalistic greed is replaced by true happiness found through love, family cohesion, and continuously become a better and active global citizen through ongoing involvement in local and international organizations and research focused on issues such as poverty, peace and conflict, immigration, sustainable livelihoods, child labour, unjust imprisonment, and environmentally sound initiatives.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The End of One Chapter Means the Beginning of a New One

As the stress of midterms and assignments starts to mount, I find myself reflecting on my experience in Bosnia. Looking at pictures of the summer and things that I have accumulated from my host family and reading my journal entries from my summer abroad makes me reflect and refocus on what's important.

One of the many things is to properly complete my experience. While talking to other BB students, I realise that I am not the only one who, through getting caught up in the hussle and bustle of live back in Canada, has not properly sat down, digest and reflect on the past year. Thus, this past week I have been trying to take time out every night to make sure that I am completing my experience. What does this all really mean?

I have finally had a chance to send out all of my thank you notes and postcards to those who have supported me and who have requested them. It feels really good. In general, I would like to take the time out to formally thank the following people and companies:

  • My friends and family who helped with fundraising, and supported me through thick and thin before, during and after my placement overseas

  • Everyone who helped me monetarily

  • St. Aloysius, Holy Cross HELPS & Knights of Columbas

  • All BB Students from 08-09, BB Alumni, & staff

  • Everyone from Intercordia including the Alumni, students from the 08-09 programs, especially those who spend the summer with me in BiH

  • Zio's Restuarant for letting me host my fundraiser there and all of my regular customers at the restaurant for supporting me

  • The Independent and Free Press for promoting my Event

  • The band (CopperField) who played at my Georgetown fundraiser

  • Everyone who came out/helped out at both the pancake and evenning events

AND the following companies/people who donated auction/door items:

  • Aiden Finucane/Pepsi

  • Benix & Co.

  • Best Western

  • CIBC

  • Curves

  • Glazed Expressions

  • Guardian (Pharmacy) on Main St. Georgetown

  • Jason Rowbottom

  • Metro (Grocery store)

  • North Star Dry Cleaners

  • Ruby from BB

  • Scotiabank

  • TD

  • The Freckled LionThe Power ZoneThe Spa on Main

  • The Wood Heron Studio Gallery

  • Zio's

I also decided to allocated WEEKS of sleepless night on completing a meaningful report documenting my entire Beyond Border experience. I have decided to attach it to this blog. I am sorry in advance for the candid, and at times blunt, stories. I am sorry if I have affended anyone; it was not my intention. At the end of the day I respect everyone and I am grateful to everyone that has been appart of my BB experience.

I hope that I can continue striving for a more fulfilling life and that I can make my family proud.


Monday, October 12, 2009

Nagashir's First Words

If you want to live, live with a smile,

Live with love, don't cry

Don't shed your tears.

There are storms, there are disasters;

In life there are ups and downs.

But don't shed your tears.

Smile- pain is part of life,

But finally you get joy.

If you want to live, live with new hopes,

Live with love.

Live with a smile.

- Nagashir (Me to We, p. 9) is a truely inspiring boy. After everything he's gone through, the years of child labour, THESE were his first words in years.

It made me reevaluate once again what is truely important. That having open dialect, reading and experiencing and LISTENING and then communicating people's life experiences are SO important. AND to LOVE life and live it to the fullest. Thank you Nagashir.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Traveler's Itch/Living in Warp Speed

Since coming back to Canada I have been EXTREMELY busy!

I left for Canada with just over a day's notice, I started working for my uncles a day after arriving in Canada, I have found a house and a job (fingers crossed), and have gone to a concert and seen most of my friends. I am also going for surgery on my teeth and then having a job interview and moving days later. I am mentally exhausted!

With that said, I have the volunteering/teaching/going to a developing country ITCH! I feel like I want to do more for my local community. With my friends leaving to volunteer around the globe, and no prospective opportunities for me to go, as of yet, I am starting to get very itchy! lol There is so much that I want to do... if only there were more hours in the day.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

It Feels Like it was All a Dream...

I feel like I was Dorthy just dreaming about going to the Wizard of Oz because the past few days have just gone by SO fast!

This morning I woke up thinking, "I know I have to wake up for something but what?! I don't have programming at the Omladinski Centar anymore... wait I'm not in GVU anymore. What do I need to do?! OH YA, I have to start working at my uncles' camp today... in Canada!"

After prepping my L.A. and Math lessons, I went downstairs to copy my class list. A little boy was making a dog out of large Lego pieces. We started having a conversation about his Lego creature and I was helping him make ears and a nose. Then I thought, "Oh my, it is SO strange yet exciting; I can actually understand what he is saying and have a full on conversation!" It's funny how little things can affect you so much.

I also caught myself saying c(ch)eki and pazi NUMEROUS times today to the children. I'm suprised that they didn't look at me like I was crazy. lol When I got back to my baba and deda's house I said, "one minute I'm just getting my c(ch)erape" (sp?), AKA socks.

Typing, I keep forgetting that the y is not longer where the z is, I don't have to press Ctrl Alt V to make an @ sign, and I can actually type ' without a hassle/going into Word.

Moreover, whenever I hear a plane I smile to myself thinking, GVU is only a plane ride away, and that we are all looking at the same sky.

It's funny how I can get back into the swing of things, i.e. teaching at my old camp, but that I am still holding onto memories and habits from GVU.

It was also interesting that today felt so much shorter and teaching was so much easier, for the most part. (I guess it's because everything is so fast paced, which was definitely an adjustment for me at the airport yesterday.) It was nice to be able to teach the children English again, and I found that making lesson plans took a fraction of the time it took last year. I think a lot of it had to do with prepping in GVU, and learning from Bridge that sometimes it's just more efficient and easier to DO something/highlight key points rather than write out full blown lesson plan.

I miss all the GVU people but I am grateful to be able to spend two weeks with my grandparents, see old and new faces at the camp, be around like minded people, AKA aspiring teachers, and earn some much needed money.


Monday, July 27, 2009

My Blindfold is Off

Disclaimer: The following is merely my experience. I hope that it does not offend anyone. If it does I am truly sorry and it wasn't my intension.

Going into this placement I knew that there was a division between the ethnicities but I didn't realise the extent. Upon arriving, I could see the physical separation: the Muslims lived on one side of the front line and the Catholics lived on the other. However, after having the chance to converse with numerous people and families I started to realise just how real things were.

After work one day one of the children told me that a girl from the centre begged her friends not to leave because she was worried that more people from the other side would come. Around the same time I found out that some of the parents from one side were uneasy about letting their children go to swimming lessons because they would be taught by people from the other side. Others did not want to go to the Yoga classes offered at the centre because they thought the money was solely going towards the other side. (We forgot to include both the Bosnian and Croatian versions of some of the words on our promotional posters.) This was only the beginning signs that there was more to the town than physical separation. I was starting to realise that it was too soon for some people to forgive and forget what happened over ten years ago.

It was also shocking to hear that the school systems and government are doing so little to resolve things. There are still separate elementary schools, and there are separate entrances and floors for the Muslims and Catholics in the high school. A teacher was even suspended for refusing to go through her designated entrance. Moreover, some of the teachers are trying to convince their students to refrain from going to activities were the two religious groups interact. The government does not show much effort in trying and bring the sides together. The local government could not even hold their promise to clean up a park so that the children from both sides could safely interact with each other.

With that said, a book that I am reading, hearing stories and reflecting with the other ICVs has shone a new light on the issue. For instance, I am currently in the middle of a book called ´Empire Lite´ by Michael Ignatieff. It is the last book in the 4 part series about the Bosnian conflict, among other global conflicts. He brings up a good point: who are we to decide when it is good for people to heal, forgive and forget the past? We weren't there, and we never experienced the conflict. In a way everyone in Bosnia was affected. The government officials, teachers, and families most likely knew someone that was affected. Thus, although the optimistic me wishes everyone could live in peace and harmony, I have to realise that some things take time.

Moreover, I have to hope that while some organizations are pulling out their funds and resources, organizations such as Intercordia, Beyond Borders, the American group and the German organization will continue helping support the Omladinski Centar. I also hope that new organizations will be inspired by the OC and want to contribute to their amazing mission. I wish them future success and I hope to visit again soon.

Expect the Unexpected...

So my plans for the end of the summer unfortunately keep changing and it is SUPER frustrating! Initially I was supposed to see my extended family in Croatia with my grandma. I was EXTREMELY excited. However, after a health issue at home it was decided that it would be best for her to stay in Canada. Then I was excited to spend time with my family here in GVU. But, after a lot of persuasion from my family in Canada I decided that I should go home earlier and take a job at the summer camp I have been working at for years. Then after finalizing a job, plans with friends and family, I have been told that there are no flight home. My only hope is to get on the same one as my IC friend, Bridge.

Expect the unexpected right?!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Saying My Good-byes

My BiH Family
(Pepa, me, Erna, Franjo, Ivo, Tata i Mama)

(Us kids in the family room Pepa. Franjo, me, Erna i Ivo)

It’s funny, I’ve moved an average of once ever two years, not counting my university moves, and I am still not good at saying good-byes.

Although I am SO proud of my sister for being picked to go with some of her classmates to the coast for two weeks, I am very sad because it means that we will have to say our goodbyes a week earlier (she is leaving on Saturday morning and I am probably leaving the following weekend). Weeks ago I prepared a care package for her travels and for my family.

(Side Note: It is crazy that I am potentially leaving in less than two weeks. The time has just blown by! My brother and I were on the balcony today and he said something that both touched my heart and broke it at the same time. After hearing that my family would receive their goodbye package a week Thursday he said, ˝Sabrina, that is puno puno puno soon!˝ I heart them!)

I am also a HUGE fan of drawing out gift exchanges. At Christmas I usually only get one or two gifts for each of my immediate family members. I try to get something that I am pretty sure they will love. Since they only receiving one thing from me and I LOVE watching people open their gifts, I like to wrap the gifts an average of 10 times. I also put packing tape around a full layer or two of the wrapped gift. Moreover, I cut short pieces of tape to trick the people into thinking that they have found the end to the tape, thus a way to unravel the package.

Since I do not have enough supplies to do that here, I have decided to do a scavenger hunt for my family and Erna, like the one Kate did on the Valentines Day episode of Jon and Kate Plus 8. I have made up clues that I will put all around the house. For instance, one says, ˝This is where I did my window/comedy act˝. Each clue will lead to where the next clue is. In the end their gift and final letter will be waiting for them. The only problem I am having is putting into words how much this summer has meant for me and how grateful I am to each of them. As well, my family does not understand why I have to leave earlier than expected. (I have a job and family waiting for me in Canada.) Hopefully the words will come to me in the next few days.

Well, I just received words from Erna that my deda in Canada is calling me at 9pm so I must get some work done and head home; I am VERY excited to speak with him and my baba. :D


Saturday, July 18, 2009

My Time Here is Coming to an End... Last Wk at the Centar

This week our program was similar. Our crafts consisted of the following: port holes (using tissue paper to make seaweed and fish, and paper plates to make boat port holes); people chains out of construction paper; ceiling kites; and pop-out cards with dinosaurs in them. Yesterday we made rocket ships! We also made light houses out of plastic bottles, and ships.

Wednesday was movie day. Instead of paying 75KMs to do it outdoors at night, we opted for an indoor day of movies, costing only 1KM. :D We used white sheets of paper to make the screen, we used the centre´s projector and we used Advo´s DVD player. (Avdo was the man for movie days/nights.) In the morning we watched ´Monsters vs. Aliens´ and in the afternoon we watched ´Íce Age 3´.

All summer I have been dying to do paper mache with the kids. Although I only did it once in my life, I always thought it would be the perfect craft for kids. It´s fun, kids can be creative, and it is very time consuming. I got my wish on Thursday and Friday.

(Ryan and ´Gimpy´ helping the kids with their paper mache)

(Me being Sid from Ice Age Three)

Thursday morning we put the paste and paper on the balloons. After letting them dry on my balcony during our lunch break, we decorated them in the afternoon. Some of them even created alien creatures. (I guess they were inspired by the movie.) That night we bought candies from ´Best´, our large grocery store in town, with the remaining money we raised from Yoga. The following day we equally distributed the candy into all of the paper mache objects. Then on Friday we ended the summer with a bang!

(Chels, Brigette, and Ryan)

(Chilly (AKA Jill) looking like a child getting excited for Christmas morning!)

Friday morning we created our memory wall in the morning, which I will discuss in my next blog. In the afternoon we took the mache objects to the park and allowed the children to take turns hitting them down, blind folded of course. Then we finally got to play my favourite childhood water game: ´Over Under´. (It is a race between two teams to see who can use the water in the bucket at the front of the line to fill the water bottle at the back of the line. The catch is that the teams can only use holey water bottles and can only transfer the bottle of water over and under themselves to their team mates, hense the name.) Then we played a quick round balloon toss with partners before having th e largest water fight I have EVER had. We used the towns water fountain to get the water (it is right beside the park.) The kids, volunteers, teen group and I had a BLAST! I must have gotten drenched at least 15 times. Not to worry though, the temperature was a high of 40 degrees so it was perfect weather to get wet.

Everyone drenched after the water fight

Avdo (Teen Group Member), Chels, Jill, Bridge, Ryan and I

All in all, our last week of programs went VERY well! I think, and I hope, that we left a positive, fun impression on the children and the community.

A Little Home Sick

Today I got am e-mail from my uncle and my high school friend. Both were about the camp I have worked at for 8 years back in Canada. Gemma, my friend, was telling me about how she mentored a class that had some of my students from last summer. Apparently, they were asking why I wasn´t back this summer and they seemed a bit upset. It is funny because today I was thinking about my job back home as well and missing everyone.

I love the people here but the language barrier has been a largest struggle for me, especially at the centre. I have handled a classroom of 30 students before without a problem; however, it is completely different when I know very little of the host country’s native tongue. For instance, sometimes there is teasing, bullying, and or name-calling that are happening right under my nose. (Side note: it was no more and no less than what you would find in any other camp.) Even when I find out about the situation, it is a bit difficult to facilitate. If I see people doing something inappropriate I will try to use the minimal Bosnian I know to explain that it is wrong. If a translator is present I will try to get them to explain to the children why their actions are not appropriate. However, there is only so much I can do. Moreover, it is really frustrating to feel like I am sometimes the only ˝bad cop˝ at the centre. Thus, although I have not eliminated teaching abroad from my options, I have realised that intensive language training prior to teaching abroad would be a necessity for me to feel confident in teaching and facilitating to the best of my ability.

Don´t get me wrong, I adore the kids and I have a good bond with the other Canadians. I am SO grateful to have had this opportunity and I cant wait to come back and visit the centre and all my neighbours. I have learned an immense amount since being here. I have discovered things about myself, I have gained another family, and I have been welcomed into an amazing community and have learned about the culture, conflicts, and peace movements here.
With that said... in a way I am glad that I am starting to miss home a bit because it will make it more bearable to leave a place that has become like a second home/community to me. Plus, I have gained some amazing memories, and I have experienced things I could have never imagined experiencing!

Friday, July 17, 2009

When in BiH be Courageous!

Since coming to GVU my eating habits have changed. Besides eating everything in sight and being my little brother and sisters garbage, I have grown to love, or at least try, things I would never imagine having in Canada.

Last weekend while in Dubrovnik, I tried a dish with squid, amoung other seafood. The other day I tried a chickens heart for lunch; it was alright but without the potatoes it would be too gooshy for me.

Growing up I HATED sandwiches. Something about letting buttered bread touch the salome grossed me out! However, I have grown to not only like sandwiches, but I love them with TOMATOES! The other day I enjoyed a sandwich with cream cheese, tomatoes and salagne.

Moreover, I have learned to make some AMAZING dishes I cant want to try out at home! My family loves to make 'Fist in the Nose', which is meatballs, tomatoes and potatoes in boiled water. (mmm) My sisters favourite dish is a vegetarian dish called Sataraš. You cook onions in a pot of hot water. Then you add a variety of veggies like tomatoes, peppers, carrots, peas, etc. Then you eat it with tomato and cucumber salad, and bread, a staple in every meal. My mamas favourite is the same dish but the veggies are diced into tiny pieces, and rice is added.

Yesterday was my FAVOURITE day food wise. We had Sataraš for lunch (although I had it for 4 meals in a row after that meal ...mmm). It tasted almost like my Canadian parents freshly made pasta sauce. Then we had čevape for dinner and some baklava for dessert. In the middle of the night and in the morning I took some more baklava, not knowing it at was for the wedding my BiH parents are going to on Saturday. Whoops. I felt SO bad and apologized in the afternoon. However, my mama knew I didnt mean to so all was well. In fact that day my mama realised just how much I loved it SO ... my eyes popping out everytime I saw it probably gave it away. Thus, she asked if I wanted to learn how to make it after I was done work at the centre. Of course I said an enthusiastic ˝YES!˝

So at around 6pm today, Bridge, my little brother and sister, mama and I made Baklava. It took us about 30 minutes to prep, 30 minutes to bake, and 10 minutes to cool off (although it tastes better when it soaks in the sugary water for a long time).

The following is a recipe for Baklava:
  • 1 kg sugar
  • 1 litre of water
  • 6 eggs
  • 0.5 kg walnuts crushed
  • 5 tablespoons of oil
  • 0.25 cups (about 2 or 3 large tablespoons of butter)
  • thin dough sheets that are used for Bosnian pitas that when heated look like spring rolls
  1. Heat the sugar and water in a pot. Bring it to a boil.
  2. On a heated pan put butter.
  3. Meanwhile mix the eggs. Then add in 4 additional tablespoons of sugar. Mix until it looks like banana pudding.
  4. Add the oil to the mixture and then mix in all of the walnuts.
  5. Unroll dough from roller it is on (there are about 10 layers/sheets) onto a hand towel.
  6. Grease a large pan.
  7. Put batter into icing/butter device.
  8. Grease the dough using the butter from the pan, and use the icing device to pour two thin lines of the batter onto the bottom/edge of the dough.
  9. Use the towel to roll the dough into a spring roll/crepe shape.
  10. Put the finished rolls into the pan and grease them more using the butter.
  11. Put it in the oven at around 200 until it is red/brown (roughly 20-30 minutes).
  12. Pour the whole pot of water and sugar on all of the rolls and let it sit so that the baklava soaks up the sugary water.
  13. Enjoy!
Well I am off to watch a movie with my little brother and sister. (Tomorrow we are suprising my family, mostly our mama, by cleaning the house and making crepes, which will include our secret banana whipped cream... mmmmmmmm and peaches)

Thursday, July 16, 2009


Last weekend I went with Jill and Ryan to Dubrovnik, Croatia. The bus ride was beautiful, especially the last 30 minutes when we could see the sea and all of the med. houses with red roofs and stecko.

The weekend was interesting and bittersweet. Not knowing the distance and exact location of our hostel we walked to our hostel from the new bus station, which was ~2.5 hours and more than 400 stairs later (I'm not joking!) On the upside, being near the top of the mountain did have its perks, i.e., the view of the city from our hostel was breath-taking.

However, I overworked myself at the Centar that week and was VERY sick (I had some kind of flu) during most of the weekend. Thus, walking more than 400 stairs every time I wanted to go to the beach, the hostel or get some food was ... bad news.

Once at the bottom of the mountain, we were able to see the Old Town, which had exquisite architecture. There were more ancient buildings than in Split. Jill and I walked on top of a wall that surrounded the Old Town for 2.5 hrs on Saturday and captured some amazing shots. The Harbour was a lot nicer than Split. With that said, I would go back to Split over Dubrovnik in a heartbeat! It definitely felt like a tourist hot spot, especially on Sat and Sunday when the Old Town felt like the mall on Boxing Day. Although it was cool to swim among the fish in the sea, the rocky beach was not fun! lol Jill joked that she never could understand why people were coming out of the sea with sour faces until she followed them.

With that said, we did pick a great weekend to Dubrovnik: seasonal festival was taking place. We got to see the fireworks on their opening night and I FINALLY got to see my FIRST ever opera. Although we JUST caught the tail end of it, my eyes were already starting to get watery from emotion. Oh, I can't wait to actually see a complete one!

The trip allowed Jill, Ryan and I to bond. After being more sick that I have in YEARS, I was going to stay in for the second night in a row. It was so painful because I LOVE festivals. I love seeing all the exhibits and performers, the artistic displays and smell the different spices in the air. But I barely made it up to the hostel in the afternoon and was scared, that was until I spoke with Jill and Ryan.

They were incredible friends that night! Jill said that I had to try and go, even if that meant walking down the stairs and then coming right back up again. They even said they would come back with me. I am so grateful to them. It turned out that my stomach was much better after ignoring it for a couple of hours, and we had a FABULOUS night! We bonded in an Irish pub and even got Ryan to sing a duet with Jill to a Taylor Swift song (although he liked mimicking girls in the summer so it shouldn't have been as exciting as it was for me).

On Sunday... we had the WORST luck. We missed our transit into the New Town in Dubrovnik. Then the bus home was sold out. (We weren't told to book our bus seats in advance and we never had a problem on any of our other excursions). Then we missed our third bus, got bad advice from a local employee at the station to take a cab and chase the bus, spent hundreds of dollars and ended up being stranded in a town halfway between Dubrovnik and GVU. (Oh, and the cab driver would only pass slow cars when the road became windy and there was a yellow, solid line on the road). While waiting for our neighbour who SAVED THE DAY and picked us up that night, we watched as the whole town came to the stadium beside the bus stop to watch a soccer game. It was cool to see the whole community come together to cheer on their local teams! Although the weekend was full of twists and turns, it mad for a GREAT story!

O.C. Week 7 & 8

Since the American came to GVU, we, the ICVs, have modified our program a bit. Generally, we are doing Arts and Crafts in the morning and Sports in the afternoon.

Last week we made, ˝Coody catchers˝, Canadian flags out of tissue paper, binoculars, vases with tissue paper and bottles, and tissue paper flowers to put in the vase. We also decorated cards with stamps, and created pictures around objects we pasted onto the pages. Outside we mostly played ˝footbal˝, AKA soccer, and ˝graničara˝, AKA dodgeball. One day we had some fun playing ˝drunk mokeys˝. (Side note: This is how you play Drunk Monkeys: Two teams raced each other. Each person on the team would take their turn running to a stick, spinning around it five times, running back to their team and tagging the next person to go.) It was a BLAST but we were all VERY dizzy after playing a few games. Some days the girls would not want to play outside. Thus, we did leaf painting and other crafts with them indoors.

(For some reason the kids LOVE getting our autographs. At first it was on their art work but then it started to be on their arm. 15 minutes of fame anyone?! lol Just joking.)

Friday, July 10, 2009

Pictures from Om. Centar

Typical arts and crafts day at the center (this is the main room)

Bridge with the morning kids

Jill and teen group friend, ˝Gimpy˝, while the kids played limbo after arts and crafts

Jill and I being silly before movie night (Charlie´s Angels pose)

Chelse during movie night

(I will put more up later...)

My BiH Family

Mama, Baba, Franjo and Tata
(Franjo´s First Communion)
Erna (my sister) and I playing dress up while mama was making herself a pretty top :D

Franjo and I being silly around bedtime

Pepa (my oldest brother) holding up my cousin Krešo (I will try to put up a good pic of my second oldest brother ASAP)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Omladinski Centar Final Report

BiH Experience 2009

My Involvement this Summer

Omadinski Centar:

This summer I was one of five volunteers from Canada who helped run and facilitate youth programs at the Omadinski Centar. During my first week in Gornji Vakuf Uspoplje (GVU) I got to knowmy host family- the Šenda family- and learn about previous programs Canadian volunteers implimented. Since then, we, Intercordia Canada Volunteers (ICV), have run fairly consistant and successful programs. Since the children had school for the first few weeks, we split the groups uop according to age. We ran programs for children under ~11 yrs of age (grade 5) in the morning, and a program for ages 12 and up int he afternoon. This way they could coem to our program when they werent in school. Now, we allow the children to come for either program; however, for the most part the AM and PM programs are fairly similar. They ran from 9:30-11:30 and 2-4. The following is a list of activities we did with them:

  • Monday- Arts & Crafts;

  • Tuesday- English;

  • Wednesday- Yoga;

  • Thursday- Dance;

  • Friday- Sports

Each activity would run for about half the alotted time. The remaining time would be filled with ˝filler games˝ such as ˝limbo˝, ˝huckle buckle˝, ˝musical chairs˝, ˝freeze dance˝, ˝pin ball˝,˝stella ella olla˝,etc.

My personal contribution was the following (note that my role extended beyond these responsibilities; they are just a brief overview/example):

  • Planning and prepping for the English lessons;

  • Assiting in prepping for the Arts & Crafts;

  • Running the yoga lesson;

  • Helping come up with dance routines and teaching the children;

  • Facilitating the sports;

  • Keeping the flow of the activities and trying to ensure the children were busy and content;

  • Making and putting up promotional posters;

  • etc

(Note: Feel free to view my blog for a more extensive look at the program:

I also ran an Adult yoga class every Tuesday night at 7pm, which the assistance from my host sister and Brigette, another ICV. It was our intent to raise money for the Centar. Unfortunately, due to numerous reasons I will refrain from mentioning, the classes were not as successful as we had hoped. However, we have raised 14 KMs to date (It is now July 7th).

Outside of the Centar:

I have become honorary member of the Šenda family. I share the womenly, household duties of cleaning. I have been welcomed into the family. I am extremely pleased to have met the Šendas and to have had the opportunity to live with them this summer. I will forever be grateful.

I taught weekly yoga classes on Wednesdays for the month of June. I would teach it to my sister´s Karate class and teacher at her elementary school.

Most Enjoyable Experiences

Omladinski Centar:

I enjoy learning from others, their different teaching and organization skills. For instance, I loved seening how the Americans lined the children up before introducing a new activity, and how the otehr ICVs worked with a couple of the special needs children. I definitely loved being able to learn new crafts and activities I can use int he future.

More importantly, I love working with the children. I aspire to be an elementary teacher so this is a great experience for me. I loved Fridays and Mondays when the kids tried to teach me how to say Monday in Bosnian. I still have a hard time. It always made both the children and myself laugh. I love the beginning and end of each program when I would go around giving ´high fives´ to all the kids; they have grown to love and expect it. Moreover, I love when I have the chance to work one-on-one with the kids with activities and help teach them something new.

Home Life:

I love almost everything about my home life here in GVU. I even love doing chore with my sister because it gives us a chance to bond, learn new customs at home. It is also time spend conversing about life in GVU. I love when we have family times, whether it be playing ´UNO´-a card game from America- walking around the neighbourhood, family BBQs, etc.

I like spending time with my neighbours. Everyone is so friendly and welcoming. I enjoyed learning how to rollerblade from the local children and my sister, and playing outside with them. I am at awe with the amount of time children in this town spend outside. Moreover, it amazes me how quick people are to lend a helping hand. For instance, a few of our neighbours have helped my host family and I plant food and chop wood.

I really like going to community events. I have had the opportunity to go to three thus far. I went to a mass in the local grave yard, Pidriš, and a bonfire at the elementary school.

The strength of the bond in both my family and our community is amaying to witness. It is very new to me and I am trying to absorb the experience as best as I can.

Personal Successes

Omladinski Centar:

While some have veared off task at times, I have, for the most part, remained on task. I have planned a couple of English lessons by myself and I have taught yoga to numerous groups. (Although I attended yoga classes for two years and I researched yoga, this was my first time teaching classes.)

Home Life:

I quickly and smoothly intergrated myself into the family. I have helped my family with their daily activities. I try to help my sister with all of her cleaning duties. I have also helped with family chores such as planting, cleaning rugs, and chopping and collecting wood for the winter, all of which I have loved doing. I entertain my younger siblings, and I am slowly teaching one of my older brothers how to speak English. Moreover, I have become someone my sister can completely rely on.

Personal Shortcomings

My patience with the slow computers at the center has been tested a lot. I am used to high speed at home. However, I feel like it has allowed me to appreciate the fast Internet connection.

Although I have gotten better at procrastinating, I still find it difficult to arrive at places early and taking less time to get ready. For instance, since being here I am getting MUCH better at preparing lesson plans and writing reports ahead of schedule, but I havent mastered meeting people ahead of schedule.


Omladinski Centar:

The language barrier has been the largest struggle for me. I have handled a classroom of 30 students before without a problem; however, it is completely different when I know very little the host country´s native tongue. For instance, sometimes I am unaware of negative situations until it is too late. Sometimes there is teasing, bullying, and or namecalling that is happening right under my nose. Regularly, I would not tolerate that and I would have a three step process: a warning, a conversation with their parent if possible, and a follow up conversation. Even when I find out about the situation, it is a bit difficult to facilitate. If I see people doing something inappropriate I will try to use the minimal Bosnian to explain that it is wrong. If there is a translator on hand I will try to get them to explain why their actions are not appropriate.

My only other challenge is working with people who do not pull their own weight. There are always going to be people who work harder than others and who are more passionate at their jobs. However, I have found it incredibly challenging to facilitate programs when some of the adults are disrupting the program. With that said, I have tried to do my best to ensure that I give the children, and this job my full attention and 100% of my effort. Moreover, in the end they came around. (I just have to remind myself that some people take longer than others and at least they got there, grew as people and did help make other's experience wonderful.)

Home Life:

In Canada I have always had a lot of privacy. I have, for the most part, been an ownly child who´s parents worked long hours. I has always been my dream to live in a large family, and this summer my wish has been answered. With that, I have had to adjust a bit. I am used to having ample amounts of time to read, write, etc. Moreover, I ususally have the freedom to go in and out of the house as I please. I have never dealt with people wanting to always be around me, helping me clean my room, see everything I buy, sample all my gifts, and want to play and be with me 24/7. It was hard constantly explaining that I had school work and work at the Centar to do. With that said, I love living with my family and I have learned how to compromise and let people in.

Personal Flaws to Conquer & Good Attributes

Once again, I would like to learn how to be more patient, and become more prompt.

I work well with children and I have a very postive attidude. Most of the time I have a smile on my face and bring energy to the group. Since I have worked with children in numerous settings, such as indoor and outdoor camps and volunteering in elementary classrooms, for over 10 years I am full of ideas.

Overall thoughts on Center


Overall, I think that OC is a positive atmosphere where children from different religious backgrounds to mix. It is a great example for the community.

Potential Improvements:

I think that more promotion for teen involvement from the Catholic side would allow be something to consider.

I think that it would be good for a person in a managerial position to come into the room

  • mid term evals: good for both boss and student volunteers

  • laguage training prepped b4 at beginning and throughout

  • handbook and more placement training

  • random check ins

By: Sabrina George


I loved Split. Getting off the bus I saw palm trees, cruise ships, the sea, souvenirs and people relaxing outside on swanky chairs enjoying the scenery. Right away I knew I would love the town.

The hostel was quiet but very nice. It was also VERY close to the old town, being 2 minutes from the green market, park with the famous saint, and the old town. The beach was nothing special. It seemed like a beach at a cottage lake. With that said, it was awesome to be able to say that I was swimming in the Adriatic Sea! When we arrived, there was a huge down pour. Thus, we spent the afternoon souvenir shopping underneath tarps. Then we walked around the palace. We saw a quartet singing and trying to sell their CDs, a bride and groom doing a photo shoot, little boys throwing water balloons at us while we were making our own photo shoot. Then we got a quick bite to eat and headed down to the main strip.

On Friday night, the main strip had a dance festival, similar to ones in Toronto. A bunch of children were performing a variety of dances. It reminded me of summers with my parents in Toronto, but with a MUCH better backdrop. We also met a famous former basketball player who showed us around that night. (I am not that into cars but we got to ride around in Mercedez and Sebring convertibles all night and hang out at a place near their stadium which was awesome!)

Saturday, we went to the beach. The first time we went in the water for 30 minutes before it started to rain. Then we looked around the palace again, rubbed the foot of a saint and made a wish, and then we went up to the top of a famous hill-Marian- where the view of the city was SPECTACULAR! (Well worth the hundreds of stairs). We went to the beach one more time and then checked out the beach clubs along the coast, although we opted to relax at a local cafe. Lastly, we walked along the coast at night. It reminded me of last summer when I viewed Toronto with Judee (my co-worker and friend) and her friends from lakeshore at night (it was spectacular).

Saturday night we also went back to the main strip. There was a huge celebration because it was a food company´s 50th anniversary. We got free food and drinks and got to watch chiefs at work. Then I was chosen to salsa dance with a professional dancer in front of hundreds of people. I also got some free goodies. Lastly, I got to see my future husband, Luka Nižetić, serenade me. (Just joking) But I did get to see the Croatian singer from Eurovision perform 3 songs, and I got to take a picture with him and Jill.

Sunday, Jill and I ventured back to GVU on our own.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Canada Wk with American in BiH :D

For more than 10 years, a group of Americans have come to the center to help out. They usually have a two-week seminar for the kids. They get the kids to make about 6 crafts a day, 3 in the morning and 3 in the afternoon. Unfortunately for the kids, the Americans could only come for a week this time. Nonetheless, we have all had a blast and learned a lot thus far.

I am also really glad that we could finally get some more supplies. (The Americans bring suitcases full of glue sticks, scissors, and other arts and craft supplies every year.)

Below are a few pictures from this week. They include my Canada Day pictures. (Since the Americans are running the show this week and we are support for them, we have decided to have an entire Canada week next week. I am very excited for that.)

(Please note I have not put my CDN DAY pics with fam and my crazy outfit yet)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Week 6

(Note: Have not edited)

This week has been a lot lighter than usual.

Monday: I was very excited about this week´s craft: Rodolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. (My family had called me Rodolph a couple of times after coming home with a burnt noses). Thus, in the afternoon, I made one for my mama. My family laughed when I presented it to them. :D We also go the kids to make 3D apples/watermelon since our theme for the week was Fruits and Vegetables.

Tuesday: We played the same IC game with the children. However, this time the children had to find the person with a picture of the fruit/veggie that matched the English word. (We went over the words prior to the activity like the previous week.) We also played memory, and then human bingo. However, this time we gave each person a piece of paper that had their fruit/veggie on it. They taped it to the front of their shirts. The bingo sheets had pictures of the food. I have to give Ryan the credit for the last game; he was definitely thinking outside of the box and came up with the game which was a great alternative to our original idea. You see, we initially wanted to play regular bingo. However, in the end the BINGO sheets ended up being the same. Instead of redoing them he suggested editing it to be more like human bingo. It turned out very well. I also decided to bring out the stickers; I don't know if it was a good or bad decision. The kids LOVED them and they went nuts trying to find ways to get more and more of them. lol

Mon. Night- Registration for University Classes & Coffee with Mediha : Tuesday afternoon was very stressful for me. It seemed like anything that could go wrong with registering for fall classes went wrong. However, in the end everything worked out. It was also night to go out to Coffee with Ryan, Chels and Mediha, and get my mind off of things! :D I also discovered an alternative place to write e-mails. They have an Internet cafe across the street from the centre. Although the smoke causes me to have migraines, it is a great place to go to when I need a fast computer. (I.e. for registering this week and preregistering for classes next week.) It also has really good N.American music!

Tues. Night- Adult Yoga & Bonfire: Yoga was good but the mother and teen who came made great suggestion for us to create more professional posters and post them up everywhere, not just in two different places in town. I also got some homework: I have to look up some sequences for next week. Hopefully, the lady will bring some of her friends for next week´s session. Since Chels and Brigette went to Zagreb´s music festival this week, I recruited my sister, Erna to help with the yoga class. It was very nice of her. Afterwards, we joined the rest of our family, friends and neighbours at a community bonfire held in their elementary school´s front yard. It was a lot of fun and another example of how the community comes together on a regular basis. Our neighbourhood friends´ parents BBQed and provided drinks for everyone. The children ran under the bonfire, played tag, etc while the parents gathered and sang songs. There was also a display of fireworks. Although I left well before the fire died down, it is apparently tradition to jump on the ashes at the end of the night. Then before getting ready for bed, I showed one of my older brothers the large pieces of paper containing Hrv/Eng phrases that I brought from the Centar. We practiced them together, him in English and me in Croatian/Bosnian. My sister brought my mama to witness our English/Croatian/Bosnian lessons. She was pleasantly surprised! I think my family has hope for us! :D I feel comfortable trying to speak in front of my older brother because he is in the same place as I am. I am definitely becoming more confident in attempting to speak the language. Even if they do laugh at me at my failed attempts I know that I am trying and so do they. :D

Funny story: Last night my sister, little brother, mama and I were sitting in the living room. My sister was telling me how the cat bit her for no apparent reason. I asked it Croatian, ˝How do you say, ´our´˝? She said, ˝ Sat˝. Confused I asked her again and she answered with the same word. Thus, I said, ˝Sat mačka luda!˝. I was the joke of the family for the rest of the night. Needless to say, I will never forget that ´our´ translated in Hrv/Bos is´naša´.

Thursday: Due to a city council meeting in our building, we had to cancel programs. Thus, Ryan, Jill and I were able to use to time to clean out the programming rooms, catch up on Intercordia commitments and work on personal things, i.e., my blog entries.

This Weekend: Ryan, Jill (AKA Chilly) and I are going to Split. We will be back on Sun.

All the best this weekend,


Week 5

(Note: Have not edited)
The Centar:

Monday: We made caterpillars for the second week, this time using a new technique and taping them from the ceiling. We also made butterflies from hand prints.

Tues: Bridge helped me with the English this week. One of our activities was inspired by an Intercordia Canada activity from one of our seminars. The activity involved Lisa/MaryBee passing around pieces of paper to everyone. Written on them were common phrases from Canada and from around the world. We had to go around the room finding a phrase from Canada that matched one from another country. The purpose was to see commonalities among the countries´ phrases. For our English class, I changed the activity a bit.

Bridge, Jill and I wrote 25 common phrases on large pieces of papers. They had the questions and the answers, i.e., How are you? I am good thank you., and then the phrases were written in Bosnian underneath. We went through the phrases one by one. A translator from the teen group would say the phrase in Bosnian, one of us from IC would say it in English and then the children would repeat it in English. After going through it a couple of times we would give the children pieces of paper. Half of them had the questions and half had the answers to the questions, all in English. (We left the large sheets up as an aid.) Once they found the person with the other half of the phrase, the two of them would sit. Once everyone was seated, we went around getting the children to share their phrases.

The second activity many people are familiar with: Human Bingo. For those who aren't, it is a game where everyone gets a sheet full of statements, i.e., I have a piercing, I am planning to watch Kung Fu Panada at the Centar this week, etc. The people playing have to go around the room trying to find people who can answer yes to the statements. Then they have to sign the statement they can attest to. You can only sign to one of the statements per sheet. The first person to have signatures for each statement wins and says ˝BINGO˝. For our game we asked everyone to ask in English.

Like always, the remaining time in our program was dedicated to indoor games.

Tues Night: We had our first Adult Yoga class, which I have already discussed in another post

Wed: We had to cancel our movie night because of the bad weather. Yoga went well.

Thurs: Our dance was to Rihanna´s ˝Disturbia˝. It was full of robot moves, the monster moves from Michael Jackson´s ˝Thriller˝, I'm a Little Tea Pot moves, sports, etc. It was a silly and fun dance. We also did the previous dances with the children. :D
Thursday night we had our Movie Night at the Centar. We showed ˝Kung Fu Panda˝ on a large screen outside the center. It was a hit! There were a lot of families and children from the center watching the movie. Hopefully we can have another one; it costs quite a lot though so hopefully we can get more people out to Adult Yoga to help with the expenses. We´ll see.

Friday: We played a bunch of games outside. We started with ˝Everyone´s it˝ (which I learned while working up North), then did a bunch of filler games like ˝Curly, Larry & Moe˝ (which I learned in a high school conference), ˝Steal the Bacon˝, etc., before going into large games of dodge ball and or soccer.

I learned a new version of Dodge ball. Everyone is in the ˝In Zone˝ except for the team captions who were in the regular ˝Out Zones˝ along the back. When someone gets out they switch with their captions.

Friday Night: For some strange reason I was hesitant when my youngest siblings wanted to help clean my room. After a few minutes, I agreed to letting them, and what I ever happy I did! It was a blast! We went through the supplies my mom sent me from Canada, and the supplies i brought. One thing I brought were capsules from Dollarama that changed into spongy objects when submerge in hot water. My brother´s face while watching his object take form was PRICELESS! After Franjo, Erna and I made one for ourselves and our two other brothers my mama arrived home. After surprising her with a spotless bedroom, we showed her our sponge insects. My mama wanted to make one for herself and get my tata to make one as well. Thus, a few minutes later, Franjo, Erna, mama, tata and I were surrounding a little glass of hot water and a capsule yelling the insect we guessed tata would be. Tata really wanted to be a frog, while mama knew better and said he was going to be a butterfly. It was hilarious! The children in them were coming out! Even when wings were emerging my tata was still hoping he would get a frog. Unfortunately, his spongy object was a butterfly. It was one of the highlights of the summer! The objects can still be seen from outside my window. :D

Saturday: During the week my family was washing their rugs outside. On Friday I joined in during my lunch break. I found it fun, strangely enough. Thus, on Saturday I was excited to have a chance to go through the whole process with my little brother and sister. We lathered it, hosed it down, used the back of the broom to get rid of the excess water, soap and dirt, and then repeated the sequence. Then my sister rolled up the rug, and my brother put the hose through the top of it. Then we put the rug on the fence and my brother hosed it one last time.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Last Wed: Happy Unbirthday to Me!!!

Although ˝Alice in Wonderland˝ was one Disney movie I utterly detested, I will always remember the Mad Hatter saying ˝Happy Very Unbirthday to Me, to Me, to Me˝ during the tea party. It was the first thing that came to me when being handed my package in the GVU post office.

The joy that comes from getting a package from home is indescribable! My mom back home gets A LOT of brownie points! Thank you, thank you, thank you! It was filled will all types of goodies such as a small, colourful, ultra soft towel which I am guessing came from Costco, sour keys and caramel cubes (which my BiH sister is becoming obsessed with and is helping me devour), a more organized, thorough BiH/Eng. dictionary & and CD, 4 notebooks (3 ecojot- a lrg, med and sm one, and 1 with a really pretty interior), my ˝Find and Seek˝ book (which I have been enjoying with my younger siblings almost ever day and had bought in Cda from Costco), some crucial info and a card, a smaller backpack from home, and much needed vitamins. Lastly, she sent me suppliers for the Centar including pipe cleaners, more stickers, feathers and googly eyes. :D:D

Nothing is better at the end of a crummy day than a special item/gift from a loved one. Whether it is small or large, the thought is what matters. I am ever so grateful! Every time I use an item a sheer joy comes across me. Thank you.

I also need to make a shout out to my friend, Jas, from UW who has HARRODS cookies waiting for me for when I get back to KW; you are the best!

Also, if I havent already said it, thank you to Knights of Columbus for your generous contributions! :D

After ~ 10 Years My Fear Has Resurfaced!

Growing up I was attacked by a cat twice. The first time was directed solely at me and the second time was directed at a little girl and I was unlucky bystandered in the room at that time. Both times involved the same cat; my childhood bff´s cat. It took me a VERY long time to gradually become comfortable around cat, sometimes even loving them. My friend Gemma, and my childhood bff´s new cat helped with the process. However, all that was washed away last night.

I don't know if the gate I moved trying to get into my yard did something to my cat (it was 11pm at this time so I couldn't really see anything), or if she was just hungry, wanted food, remembered that I caved last week and gave her and her kittens some food (sh!). What ever the reason, on my way to the stairs to show my sister my hair (it was curly from putting my hair in Princess Layla buns; me trick to wavy hair) the cat bit me TWICE!

The first time was soft. Soft enough that I thought maybe she was playing with my moving ankle. However, seconds later I felt a much more distinct bit and saw her mouth around my leg. Although she did not leave any bite marks, she left a mental mark!

Needless to say, my fear is back. It took a very long time to get to sleep. As well, I CRINGED and had an increased heart rate when she purred, and circled around my legs this afternoon. Moreover, I am terrified of her in the morning and at night (when she is the hungriest and the time of the incident).

I am hoping that with the help of my youngest brother and my sister, I will be able to conquer this fear once again. At least by the end of my stay in GVU. For now I will be doing many prayers and be cringing and squealing silently.

Wish me good luck! Eek!


First Adult Yoga Session

I just came from teaching my first full blown yoga session. Since we put up the fliers rather late, there was only one adult other than the four other ICVs who attended.

In order to prepare, I browsed a VERY good yoga site last night. Within the site there are different poses broken into categories, i.e., ˝back bend poses˝. You can also choose poses and create sequences. (I will try to post the website as soon as possible.) Then I wrote my own sequences, including pictures, in my notebook. This afternoon I did a test run to nail down the timing.

The class itself went very well. We did breathing, a downward dog sequence, a warrior pose sequence, a sphinx/dolphin sequence, two centre sequences, my floor option, and then finishing off with the corpse pose (resting and working on breathing). All of which I organized myself. We ended the night with ˝Namaste˝ and mint tea.

The only hard thing was keeping my composure. I wish I could be in the zone like my handy assistant, Bridge. Seeing people fumble around and whisper words of frustration was unexpected and quite funny (sh!). The children´s yoga is much more relaxed so laughing is fine but having a serious class where I have to be aware of how to explain the correct way to get into and out of positions while keeping a serious face is definitely something I need to work on.

Lastly, I am very excited to teach some of the new sequences to the kids tomorrow. Variation is key to keeping them interested in the long run.


Monday, June 15, 2009

Week 4 @ the Centar & Pidriš

(Note: Have not edited)
The Centar:

Monday: We made fish and jelly fish with the children.

Tues: We taught the children occupations. We did the yes/no guessing game in three groups. Then we split the kids up into two groups. One group would go outside and do some filler games like ˝Winds of Change˝, while the other group stayed inside and played a game of jeopardy using the occupations. For instance, if the card said, ˝I teach children how to defend themselves˝, the kids would have to guess, ˝Who is a Karate Teacher˝. (There were 2 translation sheets translations for the different occupations per group.) After 15 minutes, the groups would switch.

Thurs: We made a short dance to ˝Jenny from the Block˝ by J-Lo.

Friday: Since the other volunteers went to Belgrade, I had a low key day with the children. We made crafts for half of the time and then played filler games such as Limbo, A LOT of Musical Chairs, Buckle Buckle, etc. I got them to make hand prints/plate suns and chain caterpillars.

The others left on Thursday at 2:30pm. For some reason I was nervous about teaching the program alone. I don't know why since I have been teaching classes alone for the past few summers. I suppose is was because I had gotten used to them With that said, with the exception of a couple of times when i felt like I was in a zoo, Thursday and Friday went very well!! I enjoyed my time. In the morning I had my little helpers. It was a lot quieter, and the children and I had a blast playing games, dancing, and doing Arts and Crafts. During the evening I took some time to organize our main programming room. I put up all the kids artwork, and cleaned the shelves. Then my sister and our friend came to get me and I went home to spend the rest of the evening with family.

There were a few reasons why I did not go with them to Belgrade. However, the main reason was because my sister had invited me to go with the rest of our family and neighbours to Pidriš on Saturday.


On Saturday we left bright and early: between 7-8am. It was a very long and tiring walk. It took us about 3 hours and it was mostly uphill. My sister and I travelled with her three school friends. My brothers, tata and neighbours left an hour later. It reminded me of a pilgrimage that my Baba, Deda, mom and I went to back in Canada. It seemed like the whole Catholic community was there, some travelling by foot and others my car. While there, we attended 1.5 masses, looked at souvenirs, and my sister and her friends got ice cream. (I was saving room for the BBQed lunch my family and neighbours were preparing). It was nice to see the community coming together. It reminded me of the mass I attended a few weeks before. The mass took place in a grave yard where most of the diciest from the town were buried. People brought bouquets of flowers and lit numerous candles for the mass. We prayed over those that had gone before us. Both events were very powerful and emotional. My only wish was for my family from Canada to have experienced these things with me.

Our lunch took place half way between Pidriš and home. It was near a well we stopped at on the way to the church. We rested, conversed and ate DELICIOUS food. I had steak, čevapi, tomato and cucumber salad, etc. It was great!

The journey to and from Pidriš was awesome! We came across mini strawberries, wells, and foot long leaves. We took many silly pictures. On the way home the sides of the path were ramped. It reminded us of a skate board park. It was tradition for the girls to run up and down them. Who was I to fight tradition. (It was a blast!)
Parental Surprise, Water Tossing and Movie Nights:

Since my mama pulled a double shift on Friday and Saturday, and missed Pidriš, I wanted to do something special for her. Thus, my sister and I made her and the rest of our immediate family crepes. As toppings we made homemade banana whipped cream (consisting of 3 egg whites, 2-3 spoon fulls of sugar and 3 mushed bananas whipped), diced strawberries, and 2 pieces of nutted chocolate. Tata and mama were overjoyed! :D

Afterwards, we were allowed to play outside with the water balloons I brought from Canada and one of our neighbours. We filled them up, tossed them to each other, and virtually got soaked! them we sprayed the hose on each other (Sh!)

That weekend we also watched two English movies (with Hrv subtitles): Oceans Eleven and Parent Trap. We wanted to try eating popcorn with chocolate (like Katie Holmes in ˝The First Daughter˝). However, there are no decent priced M&Ms in town. thus, we tried cutting up regular dark chocolate and putting them into VERY salty popcorn. The result: a disgusting mess! lol It was worth a try! :D

The Americans are coming soon and Ive asked for M&Ms so my sister, little brother and I can try it the N.American way before she leaves for Croatia on a class trip in a month.

What a GREAT weekend!!!


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Food Habits

Isn’t it funny how we become more tolerable to things when in a foreign place. For instance, for as long as I can remember I have hated kiwi and tomatoes. However, since experiencing my first tastes here in BiH I have grow to LOVE them and have eaten them A LOT (salted tomatoes are a staple to my daily meals). Since I don’t have chocolate chip cookies, milk or that much cereal, I have become extremely obsessed with chocolate, eating it every day in some form or another.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Week 3 at the Centar & Sarajevo

It was Oriental Week. For arts and crafts we created colourful fans and dragons. We (ICVs) acted out a story about a Panda trying to save the Geisha from a dragon in China. We were trying to teach the children directions. Before the story, we held up pictures that showed different directions and stated the directions in both Croatian and English. When the kids heard the directions during the story they had to act them out. As well, we used pictures with the name of objects/characters in the story in both Bosnian and English as props to help the kids who didn’t know that much English. Our dance for this week was to ˝Poker Face˝ by Lady Gaga. We video taped it again. (Our dances keep getting better as the weeks progress.) My hope is to somehow burn the songs onto one CD and present it at the reintegration. (As long as Chels and Bridge are up for it. I’m crossing my fingers.)

I taught Yoga in exchange for karate lessons for the third week in a row. Chels and I have decided to teach adults yoga every Tuesday at around 7pm. Hopefully, we can start next week or the week after. We are also planning on having our first movie night next week or the week after. We’re thinking of showing Kunfu Panda.

Last weekend we (ICVs) went to Sarajevo. We stayed at Hotel City Centre. The hostel was REALLY pretty and it had cereal!!! (Jill and I have been craving it for a very long time.) The people there were like-minded and worldly. I had some great conversations, and I had a blast in the evenings with them. We also went on a tour to The Tunnel, which acted as a gateway during the war. We learned about some of the history of that time. The tour was well worth it!
All in all it was a great weekend, but on Sunday I was glad to be back home with my family!

Tomorrow I will be visiting my Hrv. baba. My next trip wont be for another few weeks but I am happy to be able to relax and spend some time with my family. Then in July we will be going to Dubrovnik and Split, which I am VERY excited about!


Thursday, May 28, 2009

Second Wk of Programming

( Please note this has not been editted. )

As the second week of camp draws to an end I thought I would update everyone on our progress.

On Monday we sucessfully had an arts and crafts session with the younger and older grades. They made animal puppets and then played games for the remaining time. Brigette and Jillian headed A&C activities and the rest of us assisted.

On Tuesday, I implimented my English program. I decided to use an activity we did during Speak English in KW where a pile of words are put in the middle of the group. Since this week was Animal week, the papers had types of animals written in English and in Croatian/Bosnian. Without looking at the words, each person took a piece of papers and stuck it onto their forehead. Then everyone in the group took turns asking yes/no questions and tried to guess what their animal was. The rule was that they could ask the questions in their native tongue; however, when they guessed their animal they had to do so in English. For instance, they might ask, ˝am I a pig?˝. The most of the kids liked playing the game and the other volunteers requested we use the game for future weeks. Afterwards the prorgam changed depending on the age groups. The younger children, grades 1-4, got to listen to us act out the story of the three little pigs. During which they were cued to do actions during certain parts. I.e., they had to push their noses up and make pig noises when we said the word ˝pig˝ during the story. After reading the story we sang Old Mc Donald Had a Farm and gave them a word search witht the same animals used for the song. (I made the word searches after having complications witht he computers). The students in grade 5-8 with little-medium English experience had to to an activity after they read the Three Little Pigs story. They had to write what their favourite character and or their favourite part in the story was and draw a picture. The older students with more English experience went outside with me. We took turns reading The Wolfs Side of the Story. Afterwards, I got the students to try making a comic strip based on the story. They were allowed to chose which point of view they wanted to focus on (either the wolfs or the pigs´) and were able to jazz it up. They had a bit of difficulty with that but enjoyed themselves.

On Wednesday Chels and I ran three yoga classes at the Centar. They were short but good; they were about 20 minutes each. Afterwards, we played games with them. Once the program was done for the day, we finalized our dance for Thursday. Then I went with my sister to her Karate class. I did Karate for 15 minutes and then I taught Erna´s class and her instructor Yoga for 30 minutes. He has asked me to do it as much as I can; I agreed to every Wednesday for now. (I still need to look into having classes for Adults at the Centar once a week.)

Today we taught the students a dance. It was a collaborated effort from all of us ICVs. It was to ˝Give it Up to Me˝ by Sean Paul. The dance was brilliant! I brought my camera to capture the moment but the student didnt turn it on so unfortunately it was not filmed. (I really hope I can get it video taped next week but Im not holding my breath; the other ICV, especially Ryan were hesitant on been video taped).

Tomorrow we are going to have sports for the younger students and then we are planning to head off for the weekend.


1st wkend trip: Mostar & Surrounding Areas

Two weekends ago I went to Mostar with the other ICVs. I was worried that we would be staying at a grungy hostel like the one I stayed at in NYC. However, I was pleasantly surprised. The owner of the hostel met us at the bus station with a sign. He was very energetic and set a really good tone for a great weekend. It was a 4 bedroom apartment that had a Middle Eastern colour scheme/vibe. Our room had 4 bunk beds and backed onto a little patio complete with bench seats and a relaxing vibe. The other people staying in the hostel were very friendly and worldly.

We spend Friday afternoon walking around Mostar, seeing the famous bridge and the people jumping off the bridge, and viewing the tourist shops. Then we went out with some of the other people from the hostel.
Me Infront of Mostas Famous Bridge

Jill & I

The Whole BiH ICV Gang (Chels, Jill, Me, Bridge, & Ryan)

On Saturday we took a tour with our crazy tour guide. The transportation was exciting; fifteen of us piled into a group van. Enough said. We went to a bunch of places, which I will add in later (I left my notebook with the names of the locations at home). There were a few major parts of the trip. However, my favourite parts of the day consisted of water. We went to a place that had numerous, gigantic waterfalls. Chels, Ryan and I swam to the falls and stood right beside them. Then we swung from a rope into the water. Determined to get a good picture, I was the only one to jump three times, each time jumping from a higher height. The last time I jumped from approximately 10 feet! It was exhilarating! We also went to a railway/bridge. Initially I didn’t even want to cross it because the there were holes between the tracks and the drop was about 10-15 feet. However, I wanted to push myself and conquer my fears of heights. Thus, with the help of a new Aussie friend, I jumped from the bridge into the water; I was the only ICV, and 1 of 4 (out of 14 ppl) to jump! It was the most exciting day I have had in YEARS! I will forever remember those moments!

The Famous Forts Outside of Mostar (in Either Počitelj or Blagaj)


(Ryan, Chels and I swam to the rock right beside Brigette´s (the one in the yellow) right arm!!! :D)

I jumped off the bridge !!! :D Goodbye fear of heights... sort of..

My only disappointment was not being about to visit MeĐugorje. However, with the persistence of my newfound friends, we were able to convince the tour guide to stop for a brief pit stop so I could buy my mother a birthday present.

The tour lasted 14 hours. Afterwards, I called it a night and prepared for my journey back to GVU the next day.


Saturday, May 23, 2009

Prepping on a Saturday; Teacher in the Making!

Jill, Bridge and I are at the centre prepping for next week. Initially I was worried about everything coming together because there was not that much structure. However, seeing the dedication in the girls and having a day of organizing English and Craft lesions, is making me excited for next week.

As I’ve previously mentioned, we’re going to have themed weeks. Last week was The Circus so we made masks and juggling balls for Art and Bridge taught baton twirling. This week is Farm Animals. The kids will be making paper bag puppets. I am currently working on a lesson plan for English that will hopefully include a word search, a couple of activities, songs, stories, and maybe a brief news article. I just found a really good website for teachers. It includes activites and crafts that are related to The Three Little Pigs. I have decided to get the students to read the story and then create their own version of the story. (My friend and coworker, Judee, did a similar activity with her grade 7 students last summer). Brigette, Jill and I also decided on the following weeks theme since we will be away and won´t be able to prep next weekend. We will be doing Oriental Week. The girls are working on crafts for the kids, which include fans and finger painted dragons. I´m excited already!

We have also decided on making each day of the week a different subject. Thus, Mondays will be Art, Tues. English, Wed Yoga, Thurs. dance, and Fri Sports. We’re going to do roll call/attendance at the beginning of class (last week there were too many kids showing up and although we reacted well by splitting them up it was still a bit chaotic) and go over rules (i.e., everyone helps clean up, no one is allowed to touch the equipment unless told otherwise, etc.). I am glad that the other volunteers have agreed to create rules for the programs because last week a lot of the supplies went missing. These included my personal craft supplies, some of which I had been saving for YEARS. Also, it was very disappointing to have been disrespected and to see that my supplies were taken, used, and or no long in sight; it was definitely a wake up call/learning experience. This week also made me realise how much the children like to dance!

On Wednesday I taught the other volunteers my orientation week dance; the song is ´shook me all night long´ by ACDC. On Thursday, we taught the children. Since then the children have been requesting to do it non-stop. For instance, we have done in at the centre at least 5 more times, and my neighbours have done it outside at least 10 times. It is nice to know that the children enjoy it as much as we do. It’s funny because most of the moves are corny ones like ´the shopping cart´, ´karate moves´, ´skipping rope´, etc. Yoga was also a huge success. It was funny trying to pack 30 children into a small room and trying to get them to concentrate on their breathing. The directors of the centre also want us to create Yoga classes for adults. I think I will start to organize that next week. Moreover, I finally had a chance to go to my sister´s karate class and the instructor asked me to teach them some yoga. So in front of 20 students and about 30 spectators I taught a VERY brief introduction to Yoga. Afterwards, I found out that the instructor wants me to come every other day to teach for half the class; I told my sister I might come once a week. Later on, I went running with my sister and ~10 other neighbourhood kids at the Croat, elementary schools´ track field. After running, they wanted to do another yoga session. I just can’t believe how into it everyone is. It’s the fad in BiH right now!