This afternoon we gathered at a restaurant-hotel complex about 30 minutes outside Gjakove for a final “goodbye” celebration. All of our youth and many of the Kosovar choir youth are also spending the night at Liz’s house.
It was a wonderful afternoon. A brief downpour just as we arrived at the restaurant threatened to put a damper on the planned celebration. But within minutes the sun came out and the temperature was almost perfect…not too hot…not too cold.
After a feast of fish, salad, fries, pizza, and several plates of local favorites, many of our youth and adults spent the afternoon playing baseball, volleyball, soccer, and Frisbee. Others walked the grounds, shared ice cream sundaes, and took as many photos of their friends as possible. It was all fabulous…and very filling. I had hopes of losing weight on this trip but given all of the food we’ve been presented I doubt anyone lost weight (and a few probably gained!).
It was a perfect way to end a truly spectacular trip.
The Long Trip Home
As I packed the final items into my suitcase I found it hard to zip close; partially because it is full of souvenirs and gifts I’ve received and partially because I didn’t want to believe our trip was coming to an end.
In our short time here, our group has managed to accomplish more than I think any of us thought was possible. Dr. Peter Korpi examined hundreds of sets of eyes with help from Rayellen Phillips; Mike Hartman, Jo Drahos, and Carolyn Hines provided health checks to just as many, and the various art, English and craft classes led by Jon Fasanelli-Calwalti, Aimee Wedeking, Karen Hartman, Tamara Morgan, Karen Morgan, Anne Olson, Dan Gray, and Margie Gray brought joy to young and old alike. Keith Porter kept us all in line and Paul Kakert video nearly every minute of our experiences on tape.
Our youth also deserve a great deal of credit for assisting, and sometimes leading, classes. Michaela and Marina Calzaretta; Hanna, Tom, and Joe Porter; Halie and Abbie Gray; Kelli Hinrichs; Taylor Wettech; Sam and Diana Baker; Madeline, Allison, Gabrielle, and Isabelle Hartman; Nick Korpi; Leigha Phillps; Rachel Potter; and Jake Drahos.
More importantly, our youth were able to reunite with old friends and meet new ones. And under the leadership of Ric Smith, Lori Carroll and Liz Shropshire our youth and the Kosovar choir sang and performed more beautifully than ever.
On behalf of the entire Muscatine Kosovo Project, I’d like to thank the Muscatine Journal, KWPC, and every individual and business that helped make our 2008 trip to Kosovo one that we will never forget