#PeaceCorps MAK24: Ohrid and Other Points

Was lucky enough to visit Ohrid this past weekend. Even in miserable weather, the lake was beautiful and the city is breath-taking. I am jealous of the volunteers who get to call this place home, but glad that it’s only a few hours away from my own site. Ohrid is another Macedonian only town, but I was understood. Also, since it’s a very popular tourist destination, most everyone spoke at least some level of English. Sometimes, I forget to be more appreciative of that fact. Imagine having to learn another language for work or some other necessity. (I know that, as the face of America changes, many people are picking up another language, and I applaud you!) I never think of my own language abilities either, at this point, but I’ve learnt two languages at the same time in six months. I forget that sometimes, except when someone exclaims excitedly when I reply in Macedonian or Albanian.

Peace Corps Volunteers around the world are in a bit of an uproar over the COVID-19 Corona virus. Each country is handling it differently, including here in N Macedonia, where it seems to be mostly travel restrictions to various countries and a reminder to be cautious about being in large groups. There are some countries facing evacuations, and the ending of the programme in China (or “graduation” as it is called, as not being a Peace Corps country is — and should be — seen as a positive) coincided with this virus. I am sorry for the volunteers who are facing evacuation or the premature graduation of their programme; it must be devastating and frightening to have to think of your future when you’re unprepared for it.

In my downtime this weekend, I watched the Netflix special Pandemic, which I would recommend. I think the whole world is unprepared for a pandemic, but I don’t think COVID-19 will reach pandemic levels. It is smart, however, to pay attention, and of course, WASH YOUR HANDS. I now have the beginning of “Welcome to the Black Parade” by My Chemical Romance forever stuck in my brain because that’s what I’ve chosen to sing whilst I wash my hands for the requisite twenty seconds.

Other things of note: the US primary has opened up political discussions around the world, especially since we are an American organisation with younger, probably more politically active folks. I already sent in my absentee ballot for Georgia’s Democratic primary, because N Macedonia’s postal system is…ancient and unreliable. It’s been received by the registrar in my home city; I love that they have a system in place where you can see online if your ballot was received. Go Georgia! There are obviously very different opinions about this year’s election, even amongst people in the same party. If you follow my twitter account you already know my feelings, and I am doing my best to avoid discussing it with host country nationals. I never refuse to answer a question, however.

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