End of Summer in Kosovo

Sep 22, 2010

I apologize for being so absent the last few weeks.  I’m back online now and plan to post 2-3 times each week from now on.

Aug 31, 2010. We took most of the volunteers out to get a picture before the sun set, but it started raining so we really had to hurry and finish

The summer in Kosovo ended really well.  The last week before I leave is always crazy with End of Summer Concerts, fixing our music books, writing new songs, taking volunteer pictures, and trying to fit in extra training with the Youth Volunteers that I didn’t finish during the summer.  This year held 2 days of intensive training before I left, and it was a great way to end the summer.  We reviewed songs that we haven’t taught the children in awhile, and we learned new songs including Albanian Folk Songs, fun songs like “A Sailor Went to Sea, Sea, Sea” (with the 2-person hand clapping), and more intense message-songs, such as “Let There Be Peace On Earth, and Let It Begin With Me”.  Miri, One of our Youth Volunteers, did a beautiful translation of this song into Albanian, including changing the line “with God as our father, brothers all are we” to “with music as our passion, brothers all are we”. The translated Albanian version is beautiful and I am sure it will become a favorite.  (And thanks to speed contests among the volunteers, “A Sailor Went to Sea, Sea, Sea”, is already a volunteer favorite!)

We arrived first in the jeep and took a few pictures before the rest of the group arrived

We are very careful that our program is never religious.  Sometimes we have to change a word or two in a song about peace.  So many children in our program and around the world are victims of wars where religion is used as a weapon.  It’s happening right now in many places.  We don’t want any children, in any country, to ever feel that they don’t belong in our program—or be stopped from participating–because of their religion, ethnicity, home (or lack of home), refugee status, or any other reason.  Our goal is to teach tolerance and build self-esteem among these children who have lost and been through so much.

By now the rain was really coming down so this was the last shot we took

As part of the 2-day training we also taught the volunteers some games for them to start playing with the children in our singing

classes. Each game teaches something about how we develop habits, goal setting, kindness, unity, gratitude, trust, etc.  I’m hopeful that playing these games and discussing them afterwards will give the children an opportunity to think about these things that are so important.

I’ve been back in the US for a week now and I’m still jetlagged.  I keep thinking it will get easier the more times I do the transatlantic switch, but the opposite seems to be true.  So I apologize if this has seemed disjointed and I promise better blogs in the future!