This was my first Thanksgiving away from home. I missed seeing family and friends, and I missed the food – dressing and sweet potato casserole – I even missed the canned cranberry sauce. Fortunately, I did not have much time on my hands to get homesick, and I was far from lonely. On Thanksgiving, nine of my fellow Peace Corps volunteers gathered in Skopje for our own Thanksgiving.

Getting to Skopje was an adventure as I took my first solo voyage on Macedonian public transport. I was able to figure out where and when to go and buy a ticket. I was hoping for an express bus, but the 60-mile trip ended up taking four hours after stops in every town on the way. Nonetheless, the scenery was new and interesting. Everyone I encountered was very kind and helpful, and no one got frustrated with my broken Macedonian. I considered it a HUGE victory when I arrived in Skopje. I will admit, for a minute, I thought I was headed to Bulgaria! 

Once we all arrived in Skopje, our group gathered together at two rental houses. It was great to celebrate Thanksgiving together with my new friends. Everyone brought a dish (except for me…I made the reservations and brought the wine 😂). We had turkey, mashed potatoes, carrots, mac n’ cheese, Korean pancakes, and pumpkin pie. It was great to catch up since we had not seen each other for a couple of weeks. The following day we all met up for language instruction and technical training and headed back to our assignments.

Though it wasn’t a traditional Thanksgiving, I was thankful for this experience and my new friends in North Macedonia. I have learned that Thanksgiving is a time to be grateful for those around you, whether it is your family or new friends. This experience has made me appreciate growing up in America and the loving family and friends cheering me on across the Atlantic.

I knew this service would be challenging on many levels. Luckily, I have made some incredible friends, was placed with the best host family, and am working with volunteers that make this distant land feel like a new home.

General Updates:

  • I finished my teaching Practicums over the last three weeks. I observed, co-taught, and solo-taught lessons to different grades and saw three of the five schools where I will be teaching. I am excited to start co-teaching and working on projects in mid-December. The students have been welcoming and enthusiastic. I have a lot of work ahead of me as I will be teaching in FIVE schools and responding to the different needs of the many kids.  Being in the schools has made me so grateful to be here and get started on the impact I want to have over the next two years!
  • I will be sworn in as a volunteer in a week on December 7th! I have many ideas and projects to use in the classroom and community; however, it is best to get used to my surroundings and start slow because I could spread myself too thin.
  • I cannot wait to be sworn in! All the general Peace Corps training and language classes will be over (for the most part 👏).
  • If you want to watch the ceremony, it will be streamed over Facebook live here, and you can use the following link to watch it:
    • 12:00 pm in Macedonia
    • 6:00 am EST
    • 5:00 am CST
    • 4:00 am MST
  • This is just an option if you are an early riser!🙂

One response to “Thankful”

  1. Joe, you are so special. I watched you grow up through Moo Moo. Our Monday Nights at Big Spring Park, Huntsville. Looking forward to your future adventures.

    Liked by 1 person

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