March 08, 2008

Making a List, Checking it Thrice

Back in February 2006 I wrote a story for the Newport Mercury about personality tests--you know, those questionnaires that yield a supposedly accurate description about what kind of employee or spouse you might be in the hopes of furthering “better communication, a greater understanding of self and others, and a harmonious, productive environment." These tests typically spit out a four-letter designation for the taker, e.g. INSP or ESTJ.

I'm not a huge fan of these tests and tend to think they do a really great job of telling us things about ourselves that are obvious to a 7-year old. Take for instance the revelation that Jillian is a planner who likes to be organized. Yeah, I noticed. I sometimes forget that her middle initial stands for Laurel and not Lists. Of course, this is mostly a gigantic windfall for me (check out our meticulously well-managed budget), but, really, why does the book I'm currently reading keep getting reshelved?

She also loves calendars. On our desktop is her latest creation, a comprehensive Kearney schedule for the foreseeable future. We'll call it the One Year Plan. Looking at it this morning, I was struck by how busy we're going to be starting in about, oh, a week. Between trips with the debate club (more on that later), vacations (Istanbul, France, Spain), family visits (Matt, Kathy), Peace Corps training sessions, and summer camps, it's hard not to be pretty excited about what promises to be a packed spring and summer.

First, those summer camps. Thanks to Jillian's extensive experience with California Girls State, she landed the coveted position of Program Coordinator for Camp GLOW (Girls Leading Our World), a week-long leadership camp for the best and the brightest young ladies from across Macedonia's geographic and ethnic diversity. This year it will be held in one of the country's picturesque national parks. Jillian has been hard at work already, revamping the handbook among other things. Did I mention she's organized?

There is also a boys leadership camp, which I hope to be taking part in as a counselor or instructor--hopefully in the area of backpacking/hiking/outdoor cooking or civic discussions.

On the topic of civic discussions, I've begun putting together a debate team at the high school. There is a network of other volunteers who have debate teams at their schools and over the last week we've been solidifying a spring schedule for competitions. For my part, I'm seeing a lot of enthusiasm among some of my students for this idea and they relish the thought of traveling to other schools and facing off over questions such as, "Should assisted suicide be legal?" or "Can the assassination of a dictator be justified?"

Not being a veteran of the debate circuit in high school or college, I'm crash coursing myself in the procedures, terms, and strategies of the thing so that I might give my students some instruction and preparation. I'm sure their first competition will be just as nerve-racking for me as for them.

As a final note, I want to mention one of our biggest sources of amusement over here: The Macedonian English-Language T-Shirt. It rates about a 9.5 on the Unintentional Comedy Scale. It's very popular here to have English writing on shirts, coats, notebooks, and bags, though clearly these inscriptions were designed by a non-native speaker. Often nonsensical, sometimes borderline offensive, always funny. Some recent high(low)lights:

Come On Admit It, You Know You've Got the Hot For Me
Los Angeles Cocaine Business (this one reflects a rather sad perception of America)
You're My Wrath Child (what on Earth?)

I leave you with this picture...the two of us with our friend Erin after a trip to the local monastery, where we just couldn't resist picking up a t-shirt (they're in cyrillic, hopefully they make sense):

1 comment:

Hotel Concierge:: said...


At first glance I thought your friend Erin was Becky Dunham!!

Congratulations on keeping your Girls State Spirit alive in Skopje, sound like it will be fun!