It Begins!

Over a week ago I landed at Skopje International Airport with sixteen other Peace Corps trainees ready to serve in Macedonia. For the first five days, we stayed in our hotel rooms due to Peace Corps’ sequestrian policy due to the COVID pandemic. During that time, we worked on language materials and learned about security, cultural, and health information that would help support us during our Pre-service training. Pre-service training is the first three months of trainees’ twenty-seven-month contract that covers language, culture, and other aspects before the trainees are sworn in as official volunteers. As such, for the next ten weeks, I will be learning the Macedonian language for four hours each day (Monday – Friday), reviewing materials for teaching methods/projects, and using self-directed learning time to the best of my ability. 

Of the seventeen members of my cohort (including myself), six are Community Development trainees, and eleven are TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) trainees. Community Development Volunteers work with an NGO (Non-Government Organization) on projects that range from youth development programs to health/medical projects. TEFL volunteers (like myself :), will be working with a primary/secondary school to facilitate lesson planning, co-teach, build workshops, and work on secondary projects that assist the community and school. Interestingly, the age range for our trainee group spans from 22-84. Multiple trainees have served previously with the Peace Corps, and one has already served five times! If you think you are too old for Peace Corps…think again :). 

For the past few days, I have been exploring the City of Skopje and learning about the diverse culture and history at every corner with other volunteers. As of now, I have visited the Centar of Skopje (location of Alexander the Great’s statue), a 16th-century orthodox church, a 15th-century Mosque, the Skopje Fortress (initially built by the Byzantine Empire in the 5th century), and the Millennium Cross on top of Mount Vodno towering above the City of Skopje. The country and people have been incredibly welcoming, and I cannot wait to learn more about the language and culture! 

Millennium Cross Overlook

The seventeen trainees will be placed across the country in cities, villages, and towns to work on designated projects. On Friday, we will learn about our permanent sites and meet our Co-Operating Partners and Resource Family. The Co-Operating Partners will be the school director and principal I will be working with, and the Resource Family will be an assigned family in the community that will assist in integration into the community. I cannot wait to not only meet these people but get to the location I will be living for the next twenty-seven months.

Don’t forget to check out my photos page – I have just uploaded some new pictures from my adventures, and make sure to subscribe to get an email notification when I post.

До следниот пат (Until next time)!

7 responses to “It Begins!”

  1. Hi Joe, I’m a good friend of your Grandmother living in Huntsville. I call her Louise of course. She gave me your blog address knowing history and traveling are of great interest to me.
    You are doing something that has interested me for a long time, i.e. visiting/living in the lands of Philip of Macedonia and Alexander the Great. And also I would have to add Greece to my visit.
    I look forward to reading your blogs. Have already read the first one. (By the way, You are a very good writer.😊)
    I wish you the greatest good luck on your wonderful adventure.
    Jean McIntosh


    1. Hello, Joe! Like Jean, I’m a pal of Louise! I met you when you were very young. Thank you for sharing your experiences and thoughts with us! Linda Drake.


      1. Of course! Happy to hear from you again.


      2. I hate to torture you…but MooMoo treated a few of her peeps to a fabulous dinner! Meatloaf, cornbread, cabbage casserole, which was the hit, oh, enough torture for now. Hugs

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Very happy to find your blog. I am waiting to hear if I am invited for the next cohort.



    1. Good luck! Let me know if you end up getting an invite, and I can share the cohorts Facebook group.


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