An (in)auspicious start at Shkolla Fillore Emin Duraku

Okay. It’s finally here.  My chance to save the world! My chance to make the changes! My chance to be the most amazing teacher on the face of the earth! Or not.

Broken ceiling at Shkolla Emin Duraku.

My morning started fairly routinely: getting up, getting a shower, brushing my teeth, fixing my own breakfast etc.  But before I can go to school, I must go to the police station in Skopje to register my new place of residence.  I thought I was going to have to call for reinforcements as I hadn’t had the police in Теарце sign off on my residence permit. Peace Corps told us to not worry about it–our departing host families would take care of it.  Well, the very nice police officer decided to call Теарце instead of sending me back there and got me signed out of Dobroshtë and into Skopje. Okay. Now it is time for school. When we arrived at the school, there was a large Police van parked in the lot.  Maybe officer friendly is giving a talk. As we walked in, everyone was greeting us and telling us we could not go into the second (non-smoking) teachers’ lounge. Why?  Well when we got to the door we saw–a large piece of the ceiling was lying on the floor! Hmmmm. This doesn’t appear like it was a simple ceiling collapse–the boards are splintered and that doesn’t look like wet ceiling tiles.  That might explain why three of Skopje’s finest are here investigating. Turns out that someone broke into the school, stole the computers and apparently some money that was in the school to buy paint.  I listened to the computer teacher telling the lead investigator that they stole just the CPU’s, not the mice or monitors.( I think they were actually servers because there were only two of them for the whole school.) Okay, so none of the teachers can get their materials out of their lockers and we are all playing it on a wing and a prayer today.

As much as I said I didn’t want to have to use Turkish toilets which are in use at my school, I found that a stop in one was going to become necessary before I went into class.  So I grabbed my purse, which had my own TP in it, and marched down to the female bathroom–kids and adults share it. Opened the stall door, locked the stall door, hung my purse around my neck and took care of my business. Okay, open door and exit. Ummm. I can’t get the door unlocked. Let me lean against it. Nope, that doesn’t work. Let me shake it. Doesn’t work either. Crap! I don’t want to have to scream on my first day of school. Oh, wait! I have a leather-man tool in my purse.  Whip out the plier part and apply directly to the lock and turn it. Hallelujah! It worked. Calmly put tool away and walked to class. Act like nothing happened. I’m cool–yeah, I’m cool!

I also found out that there is a team of two men that wheel around the school with wood in a wheel barrow and  stoke the fires–that’s one job I won’t have to do! Remember this place does not have central heat–wood burning stoves in each classroom. Can you say rural? Definitely a rural community!

Now it is time to go home.  Hmmm. The bus should be here any moment. Sure enough–there it is. Packed to the gills. Good thing I only have to go one stop. Climb off–cross the street and I am home from my first day of school. Whew! What a day! My bonus for the day?  My soon to depart colleague has scanned and copied all of the books, audios, etc. for me and they are waiting for me to drop them into my Drop Box.  Now I have electronic versions of everything I have to use in the classroom. I can prepare for the next day’s lessons easily.

Oh and if any of you are inclined to find me on Google Maps, here are the coordinates.:  41.983901, 21.270034. You can just open google maps and put that in and it will show where I am.  (Pick satellite view) Should have a pin directly on the house! Ta da!

And thus ends Eileen’s first full day as a working Peace Corps Volunteer!

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A 60 something woman who has run off to faraway places with the Peace Corps.

3 thoughts on “An (in)auspicious start at Shkolla Fillore Emin Duraku”

  1. Wow, just wow. I’m certainly hoping my first day back at teaching in January (online course, Global Campus) is slightly less exciting than yours. If anyone can woman-handle a door, deal with wood-burning stoves and the police — it’s you, girl!

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