1. Last week, a fellow Peace Corps Volunteer, Jim, made his way to Ohrid from Stip to facilitate a training on Peer Counseling Skills. The training included much information that only touched the surface of objective approaches to counseling, communication theory, group process, and Gestalt. I was so pleased that we had 15+ staff and volunteers in attendance from NGO Option, Red Cross, schools, and other organizations. We have already received good feedback on the training and hope to plan another one in the future on this subject! I am so grateful that Jim was willing to coordinate the training with me and share his vast knowledge with this group of professionals.  

    [ohrid, macedonia]


  2. (Source: peacecorps)


  3. I am already sure that Camp GLOW is one of the defining moments of my Peace Corps service. As stressful and crazy as executing a camp for 80 teenage girls can be, the chance to be there and experience it with them is an ultimate reward. 

    I have not been to a camp in years. I forgot how much I love to sing and dance and be youthful. Camp GLOW (Girls Leading Our World) is about these things and so much more—it gives young women from all different backgrounds a chance to express themselves freely in a safe, encouraging environment. Campers make new, lifelong friends and meet fellow rising leaders from throughout Macedonia, who they can identify and connect with on a deeper level. They spend a week discussing important issues, learning new skills and knowledge, and brainstorming future projects to implement in their home communities. 

    GLOW is all about leadership development. We seek to support young women as they discover their own capacity to be strong leaders in Macedonia and beyond. The camp has a multi-faceted approach that includes community time spent in teams (8 campers, 2 counselors, 1 counselor-in-training); large group functions with the entire camp that showcase creativity and teamwork; and experiential courses that range from emotional discussions to fun electives.

    Everyday was jam-packed with courses such as:

    Cultures of the World, Relationships and Social Health, Team Building, Our Effects on the Environment, Tie-Dye, Self-Esteem and Body Image, Origami, Human Rights and Diversity, Interpersonal Violence, Learning to Lead, Public Speaking, Yoga, American Relay Races, CPR and First Aid, Stereotypes and Iceberg Theory, Nutrition, Portrayal of Women in the Media

    Each night, at least five electives were offered including:

    Korean, Mnemonics, Acting, Karaoke, American Line Dancing, Powerful Women in History, Comic Strip Art, Leave No Trace, Stargazing, Charades

    Being on the leadership team kept me quite busy, but I was able to co-teach Card Games, Kickboxing, and Self-Defense! I was also on the team to organize Field Day, during which all the teams competed in various activities (much like an American field day competition). 

    There is so much more I could say about Camp GLOW: We had an awesome Disco Night. We lit candles and shared kind words. And made SMORES! We also had a visit from the US Ambassador and Deputy Chief of Mission (special thanks to the US Embassy Skopje for their generous grant in support of Camp GLOW this year!) 


    If you have any questions about Camp GLOW Macedonia or are interested in supporting this project, please contact me.


  4. Apply now :) The process is quicker and simpler than ever!


    We’ve just announced historic changes to our application and selection process! Get started here http://1.usa.gov/WeLKpY


  5. I’m still obsessed with BUDAPEST. I didn’t want to leave. I think about it every day. Every minute was an exciting with each corner bringing a castle, the Danube River, cool architecture, museums, kind people, and hip places to go out (check out the “ruin bars”). I can’t wait to go back.

    [budapest, hungary]


  6. I’m not going to lie—I didn’t know much about BRATISLAVA, Slovakia, before I arrived there. I was pleased to discover a charming city with much history, kind people, a cool castle, and delicious food (I cannot fully express my love for pierogies)!!

    [bratislava, slovakia]


  7. Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna certainly deserves its own post. The palace, gardens and views of the city are truly beautiful and not to be missed if you visit Vienna! 

    [vienna, austria]


  8. VIENNA for me is all about the architecture. The gothic style is quite different than most things I’ve seen. Our quick one-day trip through Vienna was not nearly enough, but we were able to walk around most of the city, go to the Naschmarkt, and find adorable coffeehouses and bakeries to enjoy. Here are a few photos of Parliament, the opera house, museums, and other buildings, and of Daniel being silly.

    [vienna, austria]


  9. VENICE is one charming walkway and waterway after another. We ate delicious pizza and pasta and drank negronis and prosecco the whole day long. I felt pure bliss most of the time we were there—even on the last day when we were completely drench by a downpour.

    I have many, many more photos from Venice, but they are trapped on my camera and will no longer transfer to my computer. For now, these will have to do :)

    [venice, italy]


  10. Fresh paint at NGO Option. Sure does brighten up the place!!

    I’m still sorting and editing photos from my trip, but will be sure to post them soon!


  11. Obsessed with Budapest!


  12. Loving Venice’s waterways, walkways, terraces, churches, and of course, food! Do I really have to leave?


  13. Words cannot explain the true magnificence of The Acropolis. There are several ancient ruins within the compound and amazing views of the huge city that is Athens. We took the tram over on our last day and enjoyed walking around and taking in the history. Above are photos of some of the remaining structures, views of Greece, and one of me, Dan, and his sisters. It was interesting to learn that some of the original renovations done on the structures were inaccurate, and now, they are re-renovating to make them more accurate to the original architecture. 

    The Acropolis, and the Parthenon in particular, is the most characteristic monument of the ancient Greek civilisation. It continues to stand as a symbol in many ways: it is the symbol of democracy and the Greek civilisation. It also symbolises the beginning of the Western civilisation and stands as the icon of European culture. The Parthenon was dedicated to Athena Parthenos, the patron goddess of the city of Athens and goddess of wisdom. It was built under the instructions of Pericles, the political leader of Athens in the 5th century BC. The Parthenon was constructed between 447 and 438 BC and its sculptural decoration was completed in 432 BC. In 1987 it was inscribed as a World Heritage Site (UNESCO, 1987). Uniquely, capturing the gravity of the Athenian Acropolis as a symbol, UNESCO recognises that “[…] the Acropolis, the site of four of the greatest masterpieces of classical Greek art – the Parthenon, the Propylaea, the Erechtheum and the Temple of Athena Nike – can be seen as symbolizing the idea of world heritage” (UNESCO, 2006).

    [athens, greece]


  14. I can’t believe how lucky I am! I just got back from Athens, Greece yesterday. Dan’s family was generous enough to let me tag along on their family vacation. Above are some images of the Greek countryside, the sea just before sunset, and the rest from Vouliagmeni Lake.

    The waters of Vouliagmeni Lake are known to have therapeutic benefits. The lake is considered a natural hot spring with salt and mineral properties. There are also small fish called Garra Rufa that swim right up to bite the dead skin off of you! I have to admit I was freaked out at first when they swarmed my feet and ankles, but after just a little while I came to find the nibbling soothing and could feel a difference in the smoothness of my skin and the calmness of my body and mind.

    [athens, greece]


  15. Last week (June 10-13) was the MAK18 Language and Cultural In-Service Training (IST). We stayed at the wonderful Hotel Biser, just outside of Struga on Lake Ohrid (about 30 minutes from Ohrid). The IST was a great time to refresh language skills, sunbathe, relax, and most importantly—reconnect and spent time with fellow Volunteers! Hotel Biser is built into the rock and in a peaceful, beautiful location with a monastery and church on its compound. I took classes to enhance my Macedonian language skills including slang, colloquial expressions, and indirect and direct object pronouns. I even took some beginner Albanian classes for something different and to help me navigate the multi-ethnic communities I visit and better connect with any ethnic Albanian clients my NGO serves. I cannot think of a better way to kick off the summer than this IST. Above are some photos of the hotel, monastery, views of the lake, and some PCVs. One of them is of my language class from Lozovo for our former language teacher who could not attend. She was greatly missed!

    Photos courtesy of Nick Husted, Christopher Quintos, and James Willis.

    [struga, macedonia]