Where in the World is Rene?

The weblog of an American Peace Corps Volunteer in Macedonia

The Day of Seven Cakes and After

Well Hello,

Hmm where to start…Orientation Week ended last Saturday and since then many many things have happened.  I suppose the most important is that since then, I have been placed in a smaller group of volunteers (5 as opposed to the entire group of 35) in Sveti Nicole to continue Pre-Service Training for the next two months. I have also been placed with a home stay family for the training session.  I was not placed in a multi ethnic community, and so my placement is predominantly Macedonian and I live with a Macedonian family.  Because I was not placed in a multi-ethnic position, I still have to wait about a month until training is over to find out where my permanent post will be.

Training has been pretty challenging.  Four hours of language lessons followed by community development sessions is enough to make smoke come out of my ears.  In addition, next week we will begin our practicum sessions with local NGOs which will last throughout the training.  I have been placed with a women’s group in Sveti Nikole, and I am actually pretty excited to begin working with them even though I am going to have some pretty full days.

Although the training sessions are pretty taxing, the home stay portion is pretty fun.  My Macedonian family is hilarious and they really have many of the same traits as I do (read: had wine at lunch today).  My host mother’s name is Biliana, my host father is Toshi and my host brother’s name is Ane.  Everyone in the family speaks English at least at a caveman level, and Ane speaks pretty fluently.  There have been so many ridiculous things that have happened trying to communicate in a wacky pastiche of English, Macedonian, German, Spanish and general charades that I certainly can’t recall all of them right now.  One of my favorite bits is that my name in the Cyrillic alphabet looks like PEHE POPC, and because of it, my host family delights in calling me Pee Hee.  I feel that this has advanced even further than most nicknames, as they even introduce me to strangers in town as Pee Hee.

Finally a fun anecdote that I think really demonstrates both the hospitality and closeness of my new community:  The second day after our arrival, all of the volunteers went to each others houses to find out where in town each other lived.  When we got to each person’s house we were invited inside to meet the host family, have a cup of coffee and visit.  At each of the five volunteers’ houses, we were offered some food and drinks.  Wait, offered isn’t really the right word.  Hmm how to explain… being given food in Macedonia is alot like asking your parents if your friend can come over for dinner directly in front of your friend.  Turning it down would be awkward and there may be some unwanted tears.  So each of the families offered us their own “special” type of cake, and at each one all of the volunteers scarfed it down.  After that I went to a birthday party with my host family where, you guessed it, they generally eat cake.  PS, there were two birthday girls which equals two different cakes.  So I ate SEVEN pieces of cake that day.  My host mother thought this was frikin hilarious and told everyone about it for the next two days (in Macedonian and in front of me).  So three days later I ran into another Volunteer from the year before whom I have met a few times and she told me she had heard about the Seven Cakes day from someone she works with. Ta Da! In Macedonia, everyone knows everyone else and they all know exactly how much you eat.  And then I found ten dollars.*

*This is NOT true but it IS a very good way to end a story on a high note.

Biliana's Cake Factory

Biliana's Cake Factory

Toshi the Nutcracker

Toshi the Nutcracker

  • My Host Family
  • My Host Family
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      TerryR wrote @

    Mmmm, cake…

    Well Pee Hee, sounds like you’re off to a GREAT start!
    Glad you’re feeling better.

      Heather wrote @

    Rene- 7 pieces of cake, wow, I’d be in Heaven! Love the pictures and love this blog–great idea!!

      Mo wrote @

    Lets see Pee Hee will at least it wasn’t Pee Wee or Pee Pee. It sound like your getting in to a grove and your already a celebrity. The American girl who can eat seven pieces of cake in one day. That has to be a record.

      Kait wrote @

    Ten Macedonian dollars? Or American dollars? That’s amazing.

    You crack me up. What’s the weather like? I see you’re in short sleeves…

    Your host family even *looks* nice. I’m glad that you’re enjoying them and they you. What a nice symbiotic story-telling relationship.

    Good luck with all the language & comm dev training… It sounds like you’re putting my tax dollars to good use! Hippies 4 life.

    Oh, and if you meet any facists in Macedonia, tell them that they are going to lose.

    Ta ta Pee Hee!!!!!

      Joanna wrote @

    Pee hee?! Teehee! It sounds like a nice town with it’s bedazzlers, seven pieces of cake and everything! It’s nice that you get to stay with a family. I suppose it is awkward at times, you get to know local people, their customs and quirks and you aren’t in a stinky dorm. Is the picture of at the top of the page taken in Macedonia? It is beautiful! I am excited that it is socially acceptable for you to have wine at lunch. Is it local wine?

      Auntie Lynn wrote @

    My Sweet Nay Nay, or should I say Sweet Pee Hee.?

    Isn’t just like you to have your cake and eat it too and then get paid for it. (grin)

    I just love hearing about your travels and hope Cindy is treating you well. I actually made it out of Mexico without her…go figure!

    Bling will be on the way,

    Love ya much,

    Auntie Lynn

      ash wrote @

    PeeHee, I am jealous of your 7 cakes. I have had no cake today, nor have a had any in quite a few weeks. Stop hogging all the cake. Save some for others, geez… I missed “had wine with lunch.” Was that a seprate post? You wearing 4 inch dress shoes yet?

      Brandon wrote @

    Haza I just realized I could send you comments.

    First off, I miss you.

    Second, I’m very happy that you seem to be enjoying everything. I was a little scared you would hate it..or the peace corps tricked you into signing up for Macedonia just to divert your plane to Turkmeckishtan.

    The language stuff has got to be tough, but if there is anyone I know who can do it, it is you. So stick in there, language only gets easier with time.

    Not much to report from the home front, I know you don’t care but the Cubs got knocked out of the playoffs, so I’ve been sad 😦

    Mom, Dad, and the girls say hi, they miss you too.

    Later my little Pee Hee

      Alison wrote @

    I am kind of bummed that i always forget to check the blogs because by the time i get to them, everyone has already taken all the good jokes.
    like, the ten dollars is obviously a good one to point out, it should be your signature sign off. i dont think it could ever go wrong.
    sounds like you are having an amazing time!
    good luck with your language training.
    i have some extra socks if you need me to send you any…

      joe bizzley wrote @


    It must have been cold there in my shadow,
    to never have sunlight on your face.
    You were content to let me shine, that’s your way.You always walked a step behind.
    So I was the one with all the glory,
    while you were the one with all the strain.
    A beautiful face without a name for so long.
    A beautiful smile to hide the pain.
    Did you ever know that you’re my hero,
    and everything I would like to be?
    I can fly higher than an eagle,
    for you are the wind beneath my wings.
    It might have appeared to go unnoticed,
    but I’ve got it all here in my heart.
    I want you to know I know the truth, of course I know it. I would be nothing without you.
    Did you ever know that you’re my hero?
    You’re everything I wish I could be.
    I could fly higher than an eagle,
    for you are the wind beneath my wings.
    Did I ever tell you you’re my hero?
    You’re everything, everything I wish I could be.
    Oh, and I, I could fly higher than an eagle,
    for you are the wind beneath my wings,
    Fly, fly, fly away. You let me fly so high.
    Oh, you, you, you, the wind beneath my wings.
    Fly, fly, fly high against the sky,
    so high I almost touch the sky.
    Thank you, thank you,
    thank God for you, the wind beneath my wings

      Shari wrote @

    Sounds grueling and fun at the same time. Dobre zania (spelling so waaay off)!

      giillian wrote @

    hahahaha!!! 7 cakes…peehee…they don’t tell ya this stuff at ipsd orientation. indonesians feel that my name has too many syllables…so they suggested that they call me Pia, as in Pianka. But they pronounced it as Pe-on. I had to explain that wasn’t a nice name in English, so they suggest Lian (Leanne). I think they use it often, I just don’t really notice. Its hard enough speaking another language…they are giving me a new name too??? One thing at a time here people!
    good times…

      Leslie Spector wrote @

    7 pcs of cake and wine with lunch…how do I get there? Are you living in my dreams? P.S. I think you should be the writer, not me! Your jab is great…ever considered it?

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