Thursday, July 30, 2009
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
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 right?!
Monday, July 20, 2009
(Us kids in the family room Pepa. Franjo, me, Erna i Ivo)
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
(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!)
Everyone drenched after the water fight
Avdo (Teen Group Member), Chels, Jill, Bridge, Ryan and I
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
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
- Heat the sugar and water in a pot. Bring it to a boil.
- On a heated pan put butter.
- Meanwhile mix the eggs. Then add in 4 additional tablespoons of sugar. Mix until it looks like banana pudding.
- Add the oil to the mixture and then mix in all of the walnuts.
- Unroll dough from roller it is on (there are about 10 layers/sheets) onto a hand towel.
- Grease a large pan.
- Put batter into icing/butter device.
- 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.
- Use the towel to roll the dough into a spring roll/crepe shape.
- Put the finished rolls into the pan and grease them more using the butter.
- Put it in the oven at around 200 until it is red/brown (roughly 20-30 minutes).
- 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.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
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!
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
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...)
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
My Involvement this Summer
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;
(Note: Feel free to view my blog for a more extensive look at the program: http://georgiebosnia-herz09.blogspot.com/)
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
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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
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
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)