Pak nga pak has become an idiom that I have adopted since moving to Kosova. In English, this idiom directly translates to: Little by little. I could not find a more fitting way to explain to my growth in this language.
It is obvious that I will struggle. It is obvious that I will fail. After nearly 5 hours of language classes I can now confidently say: Where I am from; I am with the Peace Corps; My name; “This is good.” So, in other words, my conversations with my family and other Kosovars is quite rich and fruitful. This has been my truest challenge to date, but a welcomed challenge none-the-less. There are many stories I wish I could tell my host father and many words of appreciation that I wish I could voice to my host mother.
When I do not understand I follow a series of steps: 1. Listen hardened, because things are often repeated until I do understand. 2. Pull out my dictionary if I am only missing a word. 3.1 Use Google translate (but make sure I’m saying the correct sentence). 3.2 When the wifi isn’t connecting we have to laugh it off.
Prior to my implementing these steps, I thought I knew what I was saying but, haha, nah. While at the school where my group takes language classes (in Koretin), I clearly looked a bit lost looking for the bathroom. A group of students approached me and said something that I didn’t understand. I, in desperate need of a bathroom, said what words I knew. Beginning with “banje” or bathroom, which sounds a lot like asking for the bathroom in Spanish. But, unconfidently I added more: “une nga bathroom” or “I am from the bathroom.” A phrase that may haunt me once my group hears about this. My poor excuse of speaking Shqip was greeted with a well-deserved laugh, at me, not with.
But, there are times when I succeed. After enjoying Iftar with my family tea was prepared. A glass was filled to the rim. In a conversation, filled with laughter, which I can only imagine was centered around the difficulty of drinking from said cup. My host aunt grabbed her small teaspoon and proceeded to shovel the tea from the cup to her mouth. I, for the first time, joined into the conversation with the ability to show my personality– a difficult task to do because well…language barrier. I told her, “pak nga pak.” In a single moment, everyone turned to me, amazed that I knew how to say something other than “mire” or “jo.” In that moment, I felt accomplished.
Ms. Covington– I have a western toilet. I’m a lucky trainee.