Thursday at 11:00 seems an unlikely time for a grand opening to me, but then I’m not a Macedonian
and have never done anything like this before. The event was posted on the Municipality website the week before and ‘formal’ invitations went to the dignitaries of Kriva Palanka on Monday the 1st of August….for an August 4th event. I know that points out another cultural difference, but I’ll leave it to the audience to ponder…….. The first part was
held in the large presentation room in the complex where I work and was attended by 75-100 people along with the local press. Metodi (my project manager) also acted as interpreter for the Peace Corps Country Director, Stephen Kutzy who attended. The key points of the presentations were 1)
2011 is the European “Year of the Volunteer”, 2) This project was accomplished exclusively with volunteerism (me, Metodi, the firefighters, others from the community), 3) With only a $4000 SPA Grant from the Peace Corps and ~$3000 contributed by the Municipality, the entire
space was renovated and fire safety program implemented. Stephen also talked about the Peace Corps and it’s 50th Aniversary, 15 years in Macedonia, and it’s world-wide mission. Ile, the Fire Chief gave a PowerPoint presentation comparing before/after pics of the space and talked a bit about the work performed by the
firefighters. Afterwards we all walked across the street to the fire station to view the space and enjoy food and drink. Throughout the rooms the photo exhibit of the Peace Corps 50th Anniversary was set up. there were also ‘before’ pictures playing on computer screens for people to see as they walked through the rooms. The difference is rather startling as the building is very old and the space hadn’t been touched in about 40 years. There is now a kitchen where there was none. It used to be the Fire Chief’s office, but was turned into a kitchen as it is adjacent to the bathroom and made the
plumbing possible. They now have a hot-water heater, too and the ability to shower on-site. Keep in mind that only MATERIALS were purchased–all the furniture was MADE by the talented volunteers. The Municipality bought new mattresses but the 5 new bedspreads were my own touch.
would like to see more pictures I have them loaded on ‘dropbox’ and would be happy to give you access–just let me know. After all the guests and ‘bosses’ left we went to a beautiful outdoor restaurant for a nice 4:00 PM ‘lunch’. In retrospect there are many things about the grand opening event that I would have done differently, but I also remind myself that I am here to learn, and whatever regrets I may have were totally transparent to the attendees. It seemed a good time was had by all. I even gave a TV interview to the local station in Macedonian–
with Metodi by my side for when I got into trouble. But as my hosts remind me, regardless of mistakes, people will think it’s great that I’m TRYING to speak Macedonian. Honestly I’m not as fluent as I was by this time in German, but I’m older now and don’t live with a family that I talk to every day–it makes a difference. So I apologize for the delay in posting this since August 4th, but apparently the project generated some interest in Washington and I was busy responding to them and figuring out ‘dropbox’. And I had a birthday to celebrate last week! Turning 55 in Macedonia…..a year to remember!!