RUMFORD — After living nearly a year in the former Yugoslavian state of Macedonia, Peace Corps volunteer Sara Ray is not only feeling more comfortable in this southeast European country, but also has come a long way in speaking the language.

“I got a good glimpse of how far I’ve come when my dad (Malcolm Ray) was here visiting and I had to translate everything. I was able to do it pretty well! That was an exiting moment for me,” the 23-year-old said in a Jan. 8 e-mail.

The former Canton and Dixfield resident is teaching English to primarily high school seniors. She is considering a career in law or linguistics once she has completed her Peace Corps assignment. Her mother, Elizabeth Maddaus of Dixfield, is a lawyer.

 Ray attended Dirigo High School for two years, then the Maine School of Science and Math in Limestone, and graduated from George Washington University in the spring of 2008.

She said her duties have changed a bit since she began her assignment a year ago to include leading English clubs and debate teams, as well as teaching local nongovernmental organization youngsters Chinese, which she studied in college.

Christmas and New Year’s were very different in the small Macedonian city of Vinica. The Christmas holiday is celebrated in early January, so Dec. 25 is just a regular day, she wrote.

Christmas trees and other decorations are considered New Year’s trees, and the day ends with fireworks. Most Orthodox Christians living in the country tend not to exchange presents, but do observe a number of other traditions.

“Families bake a coin into a loaf of bread, then pass it around the table, everyone taking a chunk. Whoever gets the coin in their bread is supposed to have good luck for the next year,” she wrote.

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