Relaxing over dinner and wine on the deck. Happy. ... [Continue Reading]
On one of our breaks yesterday, Maja from the Incest Trauma Center handed me a small gift. It was a set of four square coasters, with rounded corners, illustrated and written in Serbian, a thin paper wrapper binding them together. The two of us sat down on the steps of our meeting room, while the women around us smoked, drank coffee, shot pool, played foosball, and rocked out to a playlist created by Ivana #1. This was unlike any break I’d ever experienced at one of my workshops before, but when in Serbia, do as the Serbians do. I was learning to flow with the variations in this culture. Hopefully by tomorrow, I’ll be a lot more flexible about our start times and the length of our breaks.
Before I arrived in Serbia, I was unsure how it would be to teach writing to non-English speakers. That’s not actually accurate—almost all Europeans are multilingual, many speaking multiple languages, and since English is one of the first languages people learn after their mother tongue, the majority of my workshop participants understand and speak English, obviously some more than others. There are several woman in our group who don’t understand any English at all. And I speak none of their languages. I hate being a monolingual American, but unfortunately, that’s what I am. Languages have never been my forte. I wasn’t really worried about having my spoken English understood. I knew I’d have a translator, though the only model I had for that was watching UN committee meetings on TV. I’d ... [Continue Reading]
Of course, as a responsible teacher, I get to my classroom at least fifteen minutes before we’re supposed to start. I want to have the room set up to welcome the students and I like a little time to ground myself and review what I’m going to do. This morning, when I walked into our space, the chairs were askew and the room was in a bit of disarray, evidence of the karaoke party that took place last night. I’d left the party on the early side to phone home, prep for today’s classes and enjoy the bathtub in my room, but by all reports at breakfast, those who stayed had a great time. I straightened up the chairs, put out small packets of tissues on the floor, got my laptop plugged into its European adapter, and wrote a quote-for-the-day on the flip chart, in English: “If the only prayer ... [Continue Reading]
We had dinner and wine and live local music for our last night--and a tour of the winery. There was a lot of singing and dancing to the local music, especially as the night went on in the wineglasses emptied. Here's a taste of the music: ... [Continue Reading]
Last week, during my first full day in Serbia, while Dusica and I were strolling along the Danube talking about the history of Incest Resources, she had us go into a little restaurant with colorful light fixtures on the tables and walls covered of bright, cheerful paintings. She was making a reservation for a meeting a month from now, in June, and for that night, a whole month away, there was only one table available. She snatched it up right away. On a lark, she also asked if by any chance, there happened to be a table for the coming Sunday night, my last night in Belgrade. And miraculously, on short notice, this very popular restaurant had a place available for four. Once again, she grabbed it. Now, five days later, it was Sunday night, my last night in Belgrade. We’d wrapped up the ... [Continue Reading]