12-7-2010 Projectcetera

11 days until I move from our training city to my final placement.
11 days until I switch from being a “trainee” to a “volunteer.” It’s funny to be graduating between two “low-grade sounding” terms.

Laticia, the granddaughter of Litka, the Baba I live with currently, is gorgeous. I’ve mentioned her before. She’s 3 years old and couldn’t be cuter – makes me happy about the future, and a little more sad about leaving our training site. As anxious as I am to really get to work, I will miss this place, even if it is somewhat smothering at times.

Even more so, I will miss the people I share this training site with. They’ve been excellent comrades, partners in crime and in general, very good backup, when it was needed.

OH! That’s right, we had a bunch of projects that went swimmingly…update:


The Thursday before last, we were responsible for doing a presentation on the Black Sea. This usually means a (boring) Power Point presentation. Most groups did this – some good others less so.

Our presentation, however, and I’m about to brag, too cool. On a whim we made a joke about doing a Skype-telecast from the actual Black Sea, since it’d be hilarious. We’d be relaxing at the beach, drinking off-camera and everyone we’d be presenting to via Skype and a projector would be at a boring meeting across the country. The joke got serious enough however, when we decided that the format could actually work and would be awesome. We didn’t actually go to the Black Sea, but we did conduct an interview/skit over Skype with half our group in the other room being projected on the wall. This is the definition of Asymmetrical Competition, and so we dominated. The judges and the crowd were blown away.

I’ll stop now.


The next day, Friday, we had scheduled and advertised a dance/English class for the local kids/whomever in our town. The agenda read something like: “slide to the left, slide to the right, clap, etc.” “Камбур Казва” and, “The Electric Slide.” These were the phrases we wanted to teach, a Bulgarian version of Simon Says, to test/use those phrases and then the dance we were going to use them for.

A lot of things worked and a lot didn’t, but we adjusted, dropped the English lesson and ended up successfully teaching, and in my case, learning the Electric Slide.



That Saturday was planned to get some kids together to repaint the playground. The news said we’d get rained out, but when the time came, it was sunny with a cloudless sky and still air so we went for it. The kids got really into it, kind of fought over paint brushes (because we didn’t have enough), in a good way and they eventually an excellent job.

At first they all wanted to paint the structures the same colors they had been previously, but after a slight amount of coaxing they got much more creative – spontaneous excitement and initiative from children in intoxicating – we had a blast.

The paint dried perfectly and it didn’t rain until the next day…


Which was Sunday, the 4th of July. Just as the day was beginning to cool down a bit it started to pour pretty hard. This sucked because we had this whole event planned (we were winging it, who am I kidding). The rain stopped after maybe a half hour, we finished our American food for sampling/culture sharing/mind blowing via Chocolate chip cookies. After the food was gone, we played music, coaxed everyone from Friday into doing the Electric Slide and then some “Horo,” traditional Bulgarian dance. After it got dark we had a mini firework display.

The Fireworks were pretty real, though we didn’t have a ton of them. They flew high, blew up pretty big and generally amazed the crowd, which was a good feeling.

Oh, something unique to being in a place where no one speaks your language: you can play Dr. Dre at full volume, uncensored in a public place in front of kids, grandmas and the mayor and no one’s the wiser.

Good times.

I met a fellow Petaluman last weekend, he’s in the Peace Corps group just before me, is the same age as me and knows a bunch of the same people. It’s pretty absurd to have run into him. I also met a bunch of the other people from the last generation of Bulgaria Volunteers. Lots of cool cats. I’ve got a lot to learn from them all.

Plenty of time for that later.



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