Where in the World is Rene?

The weblog of an American Peace Corps Volunteer in Macedonia

The Next Step

Well Hello,

Well let’s start off on a high note- I have the internetz in my very own apartment!  Huzzah! As we speak ( ha ha, I just realized how dumb that comment is) I am sitting in my apartment wearing booty shorts and listening to some post grunge American music and connecting with you, dear reader, through the World Wide Web.  Thank God for Al Gore and his divinely inspired invention.  But don’t worry tax payers, rest assured that I will only use this new tool to further the Peace Corps’s mission of community development in Macedonia and not to watch back episodes of LOST.  Inner Monologue: Do you think they bought that? I don’t care, at least my Matthew Fox obsession doesn’t cost them as much as the Tempe light rail did. Yikes.

So PST is over.  Yep, I’m officially a sworn-in volunteer.  I have moved on from the host family nest and now I am out on my own in a new town.  I feel like at this point I should give you a few details about my new town/job/life.  I have moved to Kumanovo, Macedonia which is to the East of the capital and very close to the Serbian border.  Kumanovo is the second largest city in Macedonia and has a multi-ethnic population of a little over 100,000 including the surrounding villages.  The city has its fair share of businesses and shops and my favorite place of all, an Irish Pub.  Kumanovo was also the training site for all of the PCVs when we first landed here, so i am already a little familiar with the city.

My organization is called RCC DROM which is a community center for the Romani population here in Kumanovo.   There are six people who regularly work there besides myself with many different backgrounds and skills.  The organization has been in existence since 1997 and actively works on many projects to improve the living standards and social standing of the Romani community.  Currently, the organization is focusing on programs within the criteria of the Decade of Roma Inclusion, which is a multi-lateral initiative between nine countries in Southeastern Europe to improve the lives of the Roma people. The priorities of the initiative are education, employment, health and housing.  No small task.

I am not totally sure yet where I will fit into the organization or what my “job” will be.  I can say that I was warmly welcomed and it seems like we are mutually enthusiastic about the future.  So for now I am just trying to settle in to my new town and I am taking this time to learn as much as I can about the organization and the Roma people.

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7 Comments»

  TerryR wrote @

Hey Rene!

Glad to see you’re back online! Whooo hooo!

Tell us more about your org. Do they have a website? Are there any Romani people working for the org? Do the Romani speak a language all their own, or do they adopt the language of their host country?

Just wondering…
Love, Mom

  Brandon wrote @

I like the inner monologue in red, just so you know the light rail (or silent death as I like to call it) hasn’t killed anyone yet (yet!). So, please make sure for the next two years all inner monologues are in red, deep thoughts in green, and shout outs in blue, just so I can keep up. The org sounds awesome and something I think suits you well. I’m sure once you’re there a while you will have become the resident American PCV bad ass. Questions…you have a roomie or are you all alone? Whats your work week like, 9-5 mon-fri? What separates the Roma people from the other cultures? Do you have Macedonian TV and do you watch it? Is it like Univision but only in Macedonian (three hour long game shows with half naked women)?

  Barbara wrote @

Ok here goes my paranoia about foreign countries again. I’ve been reading up on the chick in italy and whatever you do…don’t befriend weirdos and get stuck in jail and be accused of horrible things…On a brighter note, I envy you and wish I was there doing nothing :). I can watch you do something and I will do nothing…good idea, yeah? I got my TX RN and am officially working again. hahaha.. I miss you and hope you have a Hauoli Makahiki Hou!

  joe b wrote @

BOOOOORRRRIIIIIINNNNG! tell everyone of the cat you cooked, or the turtle you saw wrestling a jellyfish! no one is interested in your new microwave.

  Barbara wrote @

oh btw do you live near the area where they filmed mama mia? I think that area is beautiful!

  Kait wrote @

thanks for the update! i’m proud of you that you are a more active blogger than heidi… who would have thought? first class with dr. g tonight, i hope you’re enjoying kumanovo bc camden misses you. don’t let that go to your head- you have to take into account that it’s a really small city.

  Brentina wrote @

“silent death”. someone listens to the morning sickness


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