This is a broad topic and several others have written wonderful verbal snapshots of the week, but I will add a few more since each year in Slovakia, and each person’s experiences, are unique. When asked earlier in the week what my favorite part of the trip had been so far, my answer was twofold. First, I listed the pleasure of getting to know the other members of the team more intimately. Upon arriving I was still having trouble with a few names! Secondly, I commented on the joy of being reunited with students from prior years. I had just spent several relaxed hours in Zilina with friends Lucy and Lubo, followed by lunch with a lovely young woman named Pauka the next day. Tonight I celebrated the attainment of a Master’s Degree in Bible with Tomas Sporka, a young man who was with us for two years in English class. Many of us have kept in touch with Tomas and helped edit papers for him as he worked on his degree, which is from an international school in Norway taught only in English. And this is just the beginning. I am enjoying having several repeat students in my classroom and am excitedly awaiting the arrival of more former students who plan to stop in for a visit next week.
Now that week one has ended I must add a third “favorite part” of the trip, which has been getting to know the new students. I have a very young group at my table: a boy of 14, and 3 girls, ages 13, 14, and 15. They are a very quiet, softspoken group, quite different from the boisterous ones I have had in past years. I wasn’t sure at the beginning of the week how it was going to work out. One girl made it fairly plain that she really didn’t even want to be here. (I asked for prayer!) Today she gave me an autograph book to keep over the weekend so that I could draw her a picture since she would probably not see me or hear from me again after next week. Her eyes got wide when I told her I would include my email address and Facebook information along with the drawing. She, and each of the other 3 have come a long way since the beginning of the week. I can’t wait to see the surprises in store from my little group next week!
Overall I have been somewhat disappointed in myself for not taking many pictures this year, unlike the other two times I have visited Slovakia. I asked myself why and finally realized that this trip just feels very differnt than the previous ones. I no longer feel like a tourist. That kind of made me happy.
Tomorrow, we make goulash. Quite literally a vat of it. Two vats, really. The American men and the American women are competing separately in in a field of over 70 teams in a cook-off that is part of a larger cultural festival. Earlier tonight we diced up many bags of onions and trimmed and cubed maybe 30-40 pounds of beef and pork slabs. Many hands made light work! (as did much laughter) The contest rules say that we must bring everything ourselves, other than the WOOD, which will be provided. More details will surely follow, but now it is time to rest up for the big competition. Dobru noc.