2nd Row (left to right): Vesna Ilievska, Marija Dudan, Ana Lakaliska
Photograph taken by Maja Tomovska and used with permission.
Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls.The above photograph represents one of the best times of my life; in it, I'm posing with some of my students from Ss. Cyril and Methodius University of Skopje, where I served as the Fulbright Scholar to Macedonia for 2009-2010.--Mother Teresa
Other than giving birth to my son, my undergraduate and graduate college years, getting married to Jerry, graduating from college (both undergraduate and graduate), and the direction my life is taking right now, my Fulbright year has to rank as one of the happiest times of my life.
Every day, I would wake up, jump out of bed, and say to myself, "I'm here in Skopje, Macedonia, and I can't wait to get my day started."
I could scarcely believe that this opportunity had been bestowed upon me--I felt anointed--and I wanted to do the best I could at my job.
Every day was an adventure, a new possibility, a new place to discover.
If you have never been to Europe, you might not know that large city downtowns (known as centers) are vibrant spaces with lots of activities going on for everyone, both young and older. Cafes are happening places, restaurants varied, and shops interesting and busy--almost like a permanent festival. From what I hear, Skopje nightlife goes on well into the wee hours.
No matter when I went to the center, a.m. or p.m., it was busy, busy, busy. During nice weather, the outdoor cafes were packed with both young and old.
(Aside: U.S. large cities should look at the possibility of reviving downtown night life. We were in Philly recently, and the town seemed to roll up its sidewalks at 5:00 p.m. UGH!)Both personally and professionally, my Fulbright year was outstanding and fulfilling. I particularly enjoyed my students (some of them pictured above); I have never met such driven and talented young people. They made my job easy and much too fun! Also, all of them are fluent in two or more languages, which puts most Americans to shame. One of my students was studying Chinese, others were busily translating American and British Literature into Macedonian.
One particularly vivid and pleasant memory: It was May 2010; the days were hot, but the nights were still cool, so I kept the balcony door open.
Across the street from our flat (on Vasil Gorgev), the owners of Zebra Mall had planted Morning Glories in large cement planters, presumably placed curbside to keep cars from parking on the sidewalk (a little quirky Macedonian practice, LOL).
The breeze was blowing in our direction and the deep purple fragrance wafted right up to our flat and into it. Although the flowers were blue (at least that's how I remember them), their perfume was most definitely purple. The air was crisp and cool, and I remember thinking, "Wow! This is an important moment of pure joy in my life, and I never want to forget it."
I'm not sure why the moment seemed important except that everything about it came together in perfect harmony to cause at least one human being to take in a deep breath and experience a perfect Macedonian moment, on a perfect night, drinking in the essence of Morning Glories, which transported me back to my childhood in Sioux City, Iowa, and my grandmother's Morning Glories.
One major joyful event, one small; it doesn't matter. These moments of joy are what makes life worth living and keeping at the mundane tasks of ordinary life.
What are some of your life high points?
Live long and prosper, my CF.