My Fall and Winter projects have kept me quite busy. December first was national AIDS awareness day. My site mate and I we were able to organize a week long, two part event with the youth center and our local municipality. Professionals made presentations about how views about sex vary gender, decision making and learning the facts about HIV and AIDS. We even arranged for the local youth to interact in games that would help them to become more comfortable talking about sex and AIDS. In addition to this, the rest of my time has been spent teaching English and Environmental Education to elementary school students. The idea is to demonstrate how they can be active in protecting their environment and to gain a sense of pride and responsibility for it. This isn't stressed in school or in the community.Life on the whole is going very well.
I also teach life skills classes once a month. Last week on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we discussed the importance to respect people who seem "different than us." This was intended to open their minds to accepting people of all cultures, languages, dissability and religion. There are several groups of people in this country who are not accepted into the core community and their prejudices begin at home. Before I had this lesson with my fourth graders I disscussed a similar subject with my debate group. These students are older and were able to give their own oppinions regarding the minority populations living in this country. They agreed that it needs to be a joint effort between the Bulgarians and the other cultures to work together, come to an understanding and to have the same requirements regarding work, schooling and government assistance.
The weather is improving currently. We have rain now and then and I have the chance to sport my rain boots I purchased in the local market. These are only worn by older women and men so when I wear them with a red umbrella that has ears I guess I'm asking for people to stare.
I have been communicating with Peace Corps and my local municipality for three months regarding the horrible mold problem I have in my apartment. The decision is finally that I will be moving to a new apartment. This is located in a new complex, closer to the center and it is a little bigger than my current living space. I'm really looking forward to living there. I will finally have a balcony and I wont have to walk a half hour or more to work. I'll take pictures as soon as I see the updates on the remodeling. I will be moving in at the latest the second week in February.
In March, look for a blog post about my trip to Turkey. I will be going there for 4 days at the beginning of the month with another volunteer. I'm really looking forward to traveing and seeing more of the world.
As far my town interaction, I'm making more friends, fostering stronger relationships with the community members and really enjoying my work with the students. Everyday is challenging but each one provides an opportunity to fall down, laugh and grow from each experience.