Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Kosova: The Bus Ride Chapter 1, Scene 3

My mother loves to tell the story of my first day in first grade. We lived in Arizona. My mother was excited for me as I began this lifelong journey of education, but when the school bus arrived at my bus stop at the end of the day, I wasn’t on it. I’m sure she panicked. Her only child was missing.

The school was able to confirm I was okay. I was on the wrong bus but they would make sure I was delivered safe and sound as soon as possible. My mother waited. Now her concern was how I would handle the situation. The thought of her daughter lost and alone made her chest tighten. Was I afraid? Crying? Anxious in any way?

Much to her relief, I hopped off the bus happy as anyone could be.
“I told the teacher that wasn’t my bus. But oh, Mom, I saw so many beautiful things and places I never would have seen!”

What does that have to do with my life now in Kosova? Everything. It is an experience I can draw from when things don’t go just right. Like yesterday.

Yay! The big yellow bus is here and I'm ready!
I’ve been getting up my nerve to ride the bus to Prishtina High School where I will be teaching fourth grade. (The school started as a high school but has morphed into an educational center offering grades 1-12.) I digress.

I’ve had rides with various people during the days of teacher preparation, but I know I need to be able to ride the bus when needed. This was going to be the day.

I bravely walked to the corner of my street, but the bus had just pulled away. Hmm…I walked to the next intersection and looked back for another bus.  I may as well walk a bit more. I hoped to find a bus stop. The ones in the city are nice little shelters. But alas, no such bus stop here. I reach the third intersection and have almost convinced myself that at this rate I can walk the two kilometers to the school and forget the bus. That’s when the big yellow bus appears. Yay!

I board and sit down. I learned the protocol from a friend. Board, sit down, and wait. The ticket taker will walk back and take your forty cents and give you a receipt. He does exactly as expected and I am one happy camper. Until the bus stops and he asks me a question.

He doesn’t speak English. I don’t speak Albanian. He asks again. I tell him I am going to the school and I point up the road.

“American?” he asks.

I assume he’s talking about me so I say yes. He offers me a few instructions I don’t understand and points to another bus heading the opposite direction. He points for me to get off and cross the road. What do I know? Maybe this bus is going to turn off? Still, I ask again about the school at the end of the road. He tells me to get on the other bus with words I don’t understand and hand motions that are clear.

It turns out 40cents can take you places!
The next bus has more people on it. That has to be a good sign, right? But as we pass my apartment without making any sort of turn I know for certain I am on the wrong bus. I’m not totally worried because I’ve been told by others that the yellow buses make a big loop around the city. I figure the worst case is I make a big loop and wind up at my school anyway.

The big yellow buses do not make a loop.

We make several stops. People get on. People get off. We finally reach the end of the line. I’m the only passenger left. My smiling ticket taker points to a new bus. “American shckool,” he says.

I get on the new bus. It drives only a few blocks before it opens its doors in front of the American University of Kosovo. The new ticket taker points to me. This time I do not get off.

“This is not my school.” I suddenly remember a booklet I have in my bag. It is a copy of the parent handbook for the school. I pull it out and point to the name of the school. But it is not the school’s name he recognizes. It is the logo. A distinctive tree logo found on every sign I’ve seen regarding the school. His face brightens and he has me sit down. A few more stops and we are in my neighborhood once more. We finally reach the corner of the street leading to my school and I hop off the bus, happy as anyone can be.

Hey, it only took me two hours to travel two kilometers to my school. Not all that bad. I saw so many beautiful things and places I may never have seen.


  1. Such a wonderful way that God prepares us for His plan...even back to your first day of first grade bus experience! He was shaping you then for this!

    1. Hallee, I so appreciate your perspective. I feel that as well. Thank you for stopping by!

  2. You are fearless. I would have been freaking out. You had such a good attitude about the whole ordeal. Hope the rest of the week goes well.

    1. Thank you, Terry! I don't know about fearless...but I am determined!

  3. I remember moments (and hours) like those! I felt that pinch in my gut again as I read. But how beautiful to simply appreciate what you're seeing. I'm so very excited for you to be there. Hugs!

    1. I adore you, Bethany! I am having a wonderful experience.

  4. Bill and I did that once in Scotland...sort of. We just got on a bus and rode it until everyone had gotten off and tbe driver had pulled to the curb, since he was ahead of schedule. So we got off, thanked him, and walked a couple of blocks to catch another bus. We saw lots of cool neighborhoods!

    1. At least you were deliberate about it, Janet! But you're right! It is a great way to see everything! And the buses here are so new and clean and nice.

  5. I am going to enjoy your new teaching position alongside you!!! How exciting!!! God bless your young students and you!


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