Susan Schell and friendAfter 2 years and 2 months in Macedonia I find that I am most fluent in the language when explaining what I'm doing here (as I have had this conversation once a week, every week, since arriving in this country). The conversation usually goes something like this: I'm an English teacher in an economic vocational high school with the Peace Corps. The Peace Corps is an American organization that sends trained men and women to countries throughout the world that request aid. I'm from the southern part of the United States, I'm 29, not married, and my favorite food here is aivar. I have this conversation at least once a week: in taxis, on the street, in grocery stores, bus stations, everywhere really. But my service is more than that.

My service actually began with a year at UAB in the Master's in ESL program. I took graduate classes for three semesters before shipping off to Macedonia (a country located in the Balkans). I was one and a half semesters into my graduate work when the Peace Corps told me where I'd be going, and looking back on it, I have been incredibly lucky in my placement.

My decision to join the Peace Corps started before my service with Americorps and the desire grew as I served in Birmingham. The chance to see the world, represent the United States, and be of help that people need really appealed to me; of course, Peace Corps service has turned out to be more than that. This is my second home. I have found people I consider family and have truly enjoyed integrating into the culture -na gostis with babas (visiting with grandmothers at their houses), making aivar (homemade red pepper spread) in September, and being familiar with everyone in my neighborhood. People here are so open and caring, they have been the highlight of my service.

Susan Schell group photo

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