that's our james

Disclaimer: This is my blog. No one else's. This is what I think about stuff. If others think the same thing, it's up to them to express it. The sole purpose of my writings is to keep my friends and family informed. My opinions are just that, opinions so don't get to worked up if something offends you. Thanks.

26 October 2007

Istanbul Images...

View from our hotel rooftop terrace.
Interior of New Mosque near spice bazaar
Hagia Sofia

Just finished our first day of sightseeing. I am tired after traveling and walking around so much. Here are a few pics from today.

24 October 2007

Istanbul was Constantinople, Now it's Istanbul, not Constantinople...

It's almost 3am and I can't sleep. This never happens. It might have something to do with the little nap that I took at 10pm. Then again it might be the garlic I ate for dinner. My stomach no longer likes garlic and really doesn't like Albanian onions. I just ate some peanut butter and bread (yum) so my tummy should be happy soon. While I wait for sleepy time to resume, I'll tell you about two exciting things happening this week.
First, it's official (actually there's nothing official about it). I am almost a teacher. After my experiences last school year helping students with English, I decided to try out teaching in a school. I am working with a teacher named Julian. He has agreed to let me help in a few classes a week. Right now the plan is for me to observe for a couple weeks and then I would teach with him in the room. Today was my first day in the school and tomorrow I go back for more. I will probably only be teaching once a week in four or five classes. If that's not enough for me, I would start my English help sessions. I am excited about this opportunity. Last semester was my first experience in the classroom. I really enjoyed it and I think the students did too. Though my work at the municipality is picking up a bit and I have other random things that could keep me busy, I decided to give "teaching" a shot. This will be a great test-run for me. Plus I don't think schools in the US would be so eager to let me help out. Turns out a lot of people speak English in America. Anyway, perhaps a career change is in my future.
Second, I am going to Istanbul. I decided to go like two days ago. Spur of the moment trips are not usually my thing. I like to research everything, the travel, the lodging, the sites, the food, and the costs. However, in my spirit of adventure, I threw caution to the wind and I decided to go. It helps that I am joining a group of friends who had already planned on going. The trip is kinda short but I figure it'll be a good intro to Istanbul, which I have heard is worth a second trip. If there is a next time, I'll be a pro at it. Plus I'll do even more research :)
Wish me luck for tomorrow in school. I'll post some Istanbul pics after I get back so check back in a week.

21 October 2007

Peruvian Perfection...

We have finished our first Model United Nations conference. It was three days of intense debate and coalition building. The students did a great job. Though I didn't have any specific tasks during the conference, I was exhausted every day. One volunteer said he now knows what it's like to feel like a proud parent. You are thrilled that the students do so well but you know that they can do even better and just want to push them to their best.

Peru's Resolution was passed. I should add that it passed by only ONE vote. I don't mean like 5 to 4. I mean ONE. Peru was the only country who voted in favor of our resolution (shocking). The other 10 countries abstained. All we needed in our mock Security Council was a simple majority of those voting. Score.

Our girls did an amazing job. We started the conference off with a bang. Our presentations about Peru (a short trivia quiz) and Berat (a skit about the Legend of Berat) were off the chain and definitely crowd pleasers. Their awesomeness continued throughout the conference. They debated well, acted diplomatically (most the time), and worked well with the other teams. Katie and I are understandably proud.

Hopefully we will be able to repeat such an outstanding performance. For now, we are all tired and going to need a little break from Model UN.

03 October 2007

Reunited and it feels so good...

Yay for birthdays. This one is shaping up to be quite nice. Not only did I receive another birthday sms (or text message on my phone for those non-hip people out there, yes that includes me) but I got two more packages today. Waahoooo!!!
My parents sent lots of cereal, which is good because I was burnt out on my cornflakes and museuli mixture, some instant soup mixes and rice packets, very good for the upcoming cold weather, and a much appreciated twin pack of JIF Peanut Butter. Ummmmm...Peanut butter. Have I mentioned how much I love Peanut Butter? When I was home for Christmas I brought back 12lbs of PB and that supply is almost mbaruat (finished).

Another package arrived today. This one from Mona. The content of which made me oh so joyful. I showed three people as soon as I opened it. I feel like an old friend has returned. Poor Mona was afraid I wouldn't like it. Sometimes I'm hard to buy for, especially if you are trying to surprise me and not use a list provided by yours truly. And without further ado, the pi├Ęce de r├ęsistance

As you'll recall, my other Swiss Army knife was stolen during my trip to Belgrade. This one is even fancier and doesn't have a strange smell to it (I had kept my first one in my glove compartment along with some nasty smelling air fresheners, of course the knife decided to absorb the funky smell). James is a happy boy.


That's how old I am today. You could also say 29 years old and a day. Perhaps I'll start keeping track of my age including the decimal. That'd be kinda fun. It might be kinda lame too but that usually doesn't stop me.

My birthday was good. I was in Tirana during the day because we had a Peace Corps presentation on Monday. With my renewed fitness focus, I brought my running clothes with me, and here's the kicker, I actually used them. Tuesday morning I went for a run in the park. It was awesome. The park is large and wooded and there are lots of other people running too. I haven't seen another runner in a long time. Except this one time during the summer while I was running on my regular route, I saw a father and his two sons running together. It was very strange. I really enjoyed my run yesterday because I was able to run on a lot of trails in the park. I had forgotten how much I love trail running. It's way better than street or track running. Even though I ran into some dead-end trails, trip and just barely skinned my knee, and a few times ran by old men doing stretches in their underwear, I totally dug it. I want to go back to Tirana just to go running. Oh the old men in their underwear, it's not a creepy thing. For some reason it's acceptable, and a bit normal, though I was started by it the first time I came upon it.

The birthday fun started on Saturday because we had some people over for dinner after our Model UN practice. That was also the first day I received a birthday message. I got lots of birthday love. My mom called me at 1am. I was sound asleep. You know the type when you can barely form a word when woken suddenly? I think I dozed off twice while she was talking to me. I was also surprised by our Model UN team. The girls had a cake for me. I'm not even sure how they knew it was my birthday. Perhaps I told them but I swear I was purposely not telling people this year. Anyway, I had a great birthday and hopefully I can extend the fun just a little bit longer.

Thanks again for all the birthday love.