The First Day of School and Classes

The 15th of September was the nation-wide first day of school. It was a cold and wet day, but that didn’t stop the festivities. I would have photos of these events BUT, my batteries were dead. I, of course, found this out as soon as I pulled my camera out. You’ll just have to rely on my vivid words. I said before, the weather was foreshadowing for the new students. All the parents and students huddled around the front door. A Bulgarian-Orthodox priest chanted hymns from the Bible and sprayed water on the already damp congregation. Some school children put on a play about a new girl not wanting to leave her mom and start school for the first time. After a visit from a fairy, she naturally changes her mind. The children assured that they will have great time and the director gave speech about the upcoming new year. She introduced the new teachers since there has been some turnover as well as gave me a shout out. I didn’t catch everything she said, but I’m sure she pleaded the parents of the kindergarteners not to beat up on the hapless American and his bumbling Bulgarian.

The first day of school is different in Bulgaria, namely, no school work gets done. The students go to their class and the teachers tell them what they need (books, materials, etc) and their expectations. It’s pretty much every grade-schooler’s dream: a party at school. AND a half day. I headed to the teachers lounge with the bigwigs that showed up for the day. This sounds like the set up for a joke, but it actually happened: “A Bulgarian-Orthodox priest, vice-mayor, school superintendent, school director, a Peace Corps Volunteer and a dude that looks like Richard Gere walk into a teacher’s lounge…” Long story short, I drank a few glasses of whiskey with these guys as they ate my chocolate chip cookies. It was one of those surreal Peace Corps moments. Oh, and the priest called my cookies “sweet balls”. I tried not to laugh. Hard.

School has been going very well. I teach kindergarten English and hour a day, four days a week followed by an hour of computers for the same four days. My kids are awesome. I have about 15, which changes day to day. They learn quickly too. I’ve had them for about seven hours of English work and they already know 16 animals, about ten commands (sit down, stand up, walk, run, go to sleep, wake up, etc), seven colors and this dialog (including pronunciation (to some degree)!):

-Hello
Hello
-I am Stanka. What is your name?
I am Nicoli. Nice to meet you.
-Nice to meet you too
How are you?
-I am well. And you?
Me too.
-Good bye!
Good bye!

Not bad for only week’s worth of work! I’ve bonded with them really well. Whenever I walk into the room, I get bumrushed by at least five of them and hugged to the point where I can’t move. I even have a secret handshake with them.

Life is good.

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