So it’s been almost 2 months since my last post and I think I know why. I wrote too much and got sick of writing when I was talking about Egypt, and that wasn’t even in Bulgaria. Lots of things have happened in the last two months as well. The new volunteers have arrived (87 of them!), I went to the Rose Festival in Karlovo, I went to Vratsa to help train new volunteers and I finally finished a project that I’d been working on for months with 2 other volunteers. I have also placed a ton of pictures onto my photo gallery about each of these so go take a look because I’m not going to be posting any pictures in this post. Let’s just say that I’m lazy. Well, today I want to talk about the project.
I might have mentioned this, but in my region there are only 4 volunteers. Including myself, there are 2 B24s and a B23. (On a side note, that means that all of these volunteers will be gone by the end of October.) (On another side note, I’ve confirmed that at least 3 more volunteers will be coming to my region at the end of next month.) (On a final side note, I presume that I’ll be promoted to primary Security Warden of my region.) (Or relieved of my position.) (I’m not sure which yet.) I’ve been working with the B24, Shannon, and the B23, Mary, on a football league involving our respective villages and one other.
The basic structure of the league was that each school would have two teams: a team for 3rd – 5th graders and a team for 6th – 8th graders. Each team would have or travel to matches over the course of a month and a half and at the end there would be a big tournament to determine the final placement. The main goal was to have them meet with other students and have a good time while bringing as many people together as possible.
This seems simple, but there were a bunch of problems behind the scenes. We needed to find transportation for the kids. We needed to get insurance for those rides. We needed to organize the kids for which we were buying the insurance for the transportation. We needed to arrange the venues to which the kids would go to with their insurance-enabled transportation. We needed to buy some of the equipment for the venues with which the insurance-enably-transported kids would play. We needed to acquire prizes for the final tournament in which the insurance-enably-transported kids would play at the now-properly-equipped venues. And we needed to gain the approval from the directors of the schools so that the insurance-enably-transported kids could play in the now-properly-equipped venues to win their shiny, new prizes.
I would to say that I was a huge part in all of this. I would love to say that I was able to pull the group together and help communicate with the Bulgarian whoevers that needed to be spoken to. Unfortunately, I cannot do any of that. Other than working on the problems that involved my town directly, I barely had anything to do with this project. All of the credit goes to Shannon and Mary. This was Shannon’s project and Mary was brought in towards the beginning. They had all of the logistics planned out; they spoke with all of the relevant people; they got schools where they needed to go. I was only here to be the volunteer to represent my town.
I know I said that I wouldn’t post any pictures but I’m giving credit where it’s due. None of this would’ve been possible without either of them.
All of their efforts make me feel a little bad about what I’m about to tell you: My teams took home the gold. Adding together both records, my town had a 7-1 run. Our older kids only lost their first game 0-1. After that they seemed to get angry and they won the next games 7-0, 5-3 and 3-0. Our little kids were the doubtless best of the four schools. They won all of theirs 5-0, 1-0, 6-1 and 2-0. Looking at them now, I suspect that some of those scores are wrong but the point is that they won and that is worth about one more picture.
At the end of the day, though, it wasn’t about winning or losing. Everyone had a good time. Our closing ceremony was nothing but smiles as the kids all received their respective awards. It was also all smiles for the volunteers as this was a pretty difficult project to pull off. It was a huge relief for everyone involved.
You might ask, “So, Zack, do you plan on doing this again?” and I would answer, “it’s up in the air right now but all signs point to no.” It was a good experience and a good demonstration that inter-volunteer projects are very possible but at the same time I’m not sure if I could play lead on this project since I work in two different towns and my energy is divided as such.
This is the Peace Corps and it’s been over one year since I’ve been here!