An Upbeat Macedonia Teacher

Deborah Eveland

Deborah Eveland has a UH teaching degree and is preparing to help out at a girls summer camp in July. Nothing unusual there. Except that the Kaneohe native gave up a teaching career in Hawaii to jump into the Peace Corps, and the camp is in Tetovo, Macedonia.

“I’ll be an instructor this year at Camp GLOW teaching alongside host country nationals,” Eveland said in a email from her home base in Bogdanci, where she also teaches English at Petar Musev primary school.

“Last year I worked as a counselor at the camp and really believe in the power it has to change lives, as I’ve seen it firsthand.”

Three years ago the Castle High alumna believed she was changing lives in her kindergarten classroom at Kalihi Uka Elementary School too, where she loved her students. But the Peace Corps lured her away with the challenge to help children elsewhere in the world, and she hasn’t looked back.

After 20 months in the landlocked Balkan nation, Eveland is still on a high. “Camp GLOW (Girls Leading Our World) gives teenage girls an opportunity to mingle and become friends with other ethnicities in classes and workshops … plus fun stuff like yoga, which I’ll be teaching.

“These girls go back to their communities and teach other girls what they’ve learned.”

While Eveland was challenged in Honolulu by “long hours, furloughs and having to work a second job as a result of lost pay from the furloughs,” she still appreciates the American teaching style. With a population that’s 65 percent Macedonian and 30 percent ethnic Albanian, her adopted country is largely segregated because of recurring tensions. This includes the schools.

“To give you an idea, teachers are routinely 5 to 15 minutes late, and they teach lecture style. Creativity, out-of-the-box thinking, analysis and forming opinions are generally not fostered.

“And things like STDs, sexual health, which I’ll be teaching at camp, and career options (especially for women) aren’t addressed.”

Her new role in a different country isn’t an easy one, she admitted, “but the genuine hospitality of the people I’ve met here, plus the love and support of those back home, have made this experience worth it.”