Frieda in Skopje, Nordmazedonien // 3. Bericht

“No, without a plastic bag, she is big on ecology!” The fruit and vegetable vendor said to his colleague in Macedonian. After half a year, I can now talk to him more and understand some conversations that I overhear. It makes me realize that I have built a life here when I know what bike shop to go to and I am being recognized there. What that says about the condition of my bike is another story. I also know now what doctor close to me is good and which hospital I wouldn’t go to again. My annoying cough which often overcomes me when I laugh, is a souvenir from the winter in Skopje and the long weeks that I spent sick stuck in my room. Luckily, I am surrounded by caring people without whom I would have lost my motivation.

In March, colorful tulips were being sold in every corner of the city and I discover new parts of it every day as I try to avoid big and loud streets. I especially love the many cafés where you can enjoy specialty coffee with plant-based milk in the sun and the chances of a cute cat joining you are high. Or maybe a small bird. My new interest in them is a result of my second podcast episode “Why Birds are Important” in which I interviewed Slave Nakev from the Macedonian Ecological Society whose enthusiasm for our feathered friends is truly contagious.

Other things didn’t go as smoothly as I had hoped: None of the over twenty schools I had sent an invitation to my workshop had replied. So I have to use personal connections from the young Go Green Eco-Activists to fix a date with teachers who are willing to give me a lesson’s time. This worked only once so far and showed me what parts of the workshop I had spent so much time developing I could keep and what I have to change. I know it is normal that not all activities work as envisioned in theory but I was still feeling a little down afterwards. I expected that this workshop series would be a sure thing, something I could use to spend a lot of time in schools and actually work with young people on what’s so important to me.

A lot of my time is spent in the office. I was asked to evaluate my weekly quiz on Instagram which I took as an opportunity to work with something completely new: excel. Whenever there wasn’t something more important to do, I used my time in the office to do the same with our whole social media presence. I manually collected a lot of data, tried to identify factors that influence the performance of our posts, and collected my findings in a report with charts. I was surprised by how fun and interesting the process was and how much feedback I got from some colleagues. Soon I will present my work in a team meeting.

Inspired by a global climate strike announced by Fridays For Future, I explored possibilities of doing something similar in Skopje. There were some concerns about doing a protest in front of the Macedonian Assembly since the presidential elections are being held in April and May.

Some months ago, I would have tried to contest them, since, in Germany, it is normal to draw attention to important demands, especially around elections. But somehow, I feel like I understand now and think it is for the best. Now, we will hold a Climate Rally with speeches and other activities on a stage in the City Park in May. I am excited about this project and somewhat scared that I could mess up and be disappointed by the final turnout. On the 8th of March, some friends and I wanted to join a march for International Women’s Day. We spent some time looking for it and when we finally found it I realized how small the gathering was for a capital city. The only protests I saw that were bigger were in favor of the nationalist party VMRO-DPMNE. So I think that I will be happy if just a handful of people listen to us at the climate rally.

My younger brother and friends from Germany are visiting me and I am so happy to show them my life and the people that are so important to me here. Thoughts about how I will look back at my time in Macedonia and what comes after it are also arising since two-thirds have passed already. But there still is time and right now I am looking at beautiful mountains from a bus window on our way to Ohrid:)

Frieda verbringt ihren Freiwilligendienst bei Go Green, ihr Projekt wird ko-finanziert von der Europäischen Union.