Monday, October 31, 2005

Happy Halloween!


That is all.

:P m

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

A shining star

There are some days when I feel like my existence counts for nothing, and if I just disappeared no one would notice. And then there are days like today, where I feel like I can change the world, even if it is just one person at a time.

In the year that I have been teaching in the University, I've learned something about students. You'll have those that will do just enough to get by, and you'll have those that work twice as hard as everyone else in order to get the absolute most out of a class. The student I write about today is one of those superstars. If I assigned a piece of writing and wanted to see one draft before they turned in the final paper, she would turn in three, just to make sure it was perfect. If she had questions about homework, she would call me at home or catch me online, and was never afraid to ask questions in class. These are the students that I live for, because they make me want to be a better teacher.

Last semester I decided to experiment with my students and see if I could get them interested in keeping a blog. I gave assignments, but they were also free to write about whatever they wanted on their own. Some did only what was required for the grade, but others, like this student, really took the project by the horns and gave it a life and a flavor all its own. Today she sent me an e-mail to tell me about her new blog - a project she started all on her own, long after our class had ended. Not only has she taken the initiative to put her thoughts and opinions in writing, but she's putting them down in English, not in her native tongue. I couldn't be more proud. If you want some interesting reading on Kosovo history and current politics, check out her blog. I've added it to the "Links" section in the sidebar also. If anyone is going to change the world, she will.

Today, I made a difference to someone. It's a good feeling.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Birthday Madness

Ok, so I'm a little late with getting this done, but here's a few pics from the group birthday dinner a couple of weeks ago. We had an absolute blast! You can see the rest in Yahoo! Photos... see "Links" section.

:) m Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Overturning the status quo

From the moment I came back here to Prishtina, there has been a different feeling about it. I don't know if it's that my own awareness of things has grown, or that I am just not used to being here, but there is definitely something different. On the surface many things have changed, as I said before, but I can sense, now more than ever, the quiet unrest bubbling just under the surface. In conversations with my landlord, in conversations with students, there is an increasing attitude that something must change NOW. Threats have been made against internationals if UNMIK doesn't make a decision soon. One "suspicious package" was detonated on Friday evening, and a second bomb found under a UN vehicle consisting of enough TNT to wipe out a large building was diffused in the early hours of Saturday morning.

The whole province is waiting for the UN envoy's report on Kosovo's readiness for status talks to begin. Has there been enough progress to start negotiating for freedom for Kosovo? Some internationals fear that if the report is negative and says that Kosovo isn't ready, things could get ugly here very quickly. Many feel that the report may contain some negative comments but that negotiations will begin anyway. Others say that Kosovo will be granted "conditional" independence, maintaining a large international presence here. October 15th is the deadline for the report, and much could change from there.

Please keep in mind, no one is angry at Americans in particular- we are still the blessed saviours. However, many locals feel the international community is stalling, and by doing so are keeping Kosovars in a perpetual state of poverty and unemployment. It's not that anyone expects a sudden windfall of money to pour into Kosovo the minute independence happens, but some feel that the economy is completely stalled by lack of status. Will it really make things better? No one really knows, all they do know is that things cannot stay the same. There was a pretty good opinion piece in the International Herald Tribune yesterday that discusses all of this further, and if you want more info click here.

In other aspects of unrest, public school employees, including the University, and health works employees have been on strike since Monday, demanding more pay and better benefits. Something they damn well deserve, as do most teachers and health care workers across the globe. But according to the government, there's just no money for it. So for the time being I sit, developing my syllabus for no one in particular.