Photo a Day: Days 64-70

Week 11 (after a bit of a break from the project)!

Day 64: The view of our front flower garden and road from the kitchen window.
Day 65: Some of the last flowers before winter comes.
Day 66: Grape vines over our courtyard in front of the beginnings of a sunset.
Day 67: Students work together on a “research” project at our Tuesday English Club.
Day 68: Some students from our Wednesday English Club group works on a composition together.
Day 69: Our road was blocked for a few days by a large heap of dried corn stalks in front of the neighbors’ house.
Day 70: While walking home from school, I passed this horse, waiting for her owner to return.

Life Lately in Moldova

Somehow it’s already nearly halfway through November and the end of the first semester of school is quickly approaching!  Although some days feel like they drag on forever, time in general seems to be flying by.  In just 20 days, I will have been in Moldova for a full year and a half, which means I’m nearly three quarters through my service and time here.  Although there have been moments when I’ve questioned being here (I think that’s a part of most volunteers’ service), I really can’t believe I’ve already been here so long and that my time here will be winding down in a fairly short amount of time.

The last two and a half months have been busy at school, as fall always tends to be for students and teachers.  Here’s a bit of what I’ve been up to since summer ended.

1. Celebrated a handful of Moldovan holidays and celebrations in my community.  We celebrated First Bell (the first day of school) on September 1st, International Day of Peace on September 21st, Teacher’s Day on October 5th, and the opening of our new School Library on October 11th.

2. Spent time helping my host family pick grapes and observed the wine making process.  I didn’t help as much as I would have liked, but it was fun to help out and learn the basics of how to make wine.

3. Got my English Club up and running again at school.  We’ve met three times now, and I’ve loved working with my students in a more relaxed environment.  So far, we’ve done a review day (greetings, important verbs, and speaking and asking about one’s self), talked about Halloween (complete with a powerpoint presentation with Halloween photos from our childhood- my site mate, Amir, has been helping me run the meetings this year), and learned about numbers (students struggle with larger, more complicated numbers).  The “whiteboards” and markers my parents brought me this summer have been a huge hit!

4. Started cooking and baking a bit more.  While my host mom still makes most of my meals, I’ve started cooking more, especially on the weekends.  I’ve also made banana bread and brownies.

5. Attended a conference in Chisinau.  The conference was for the Access micro-scholarship program for English teachers.  A few Peace Corps volunteers were invited as guests and there were some really great presentations on inquiry-based learning and using technology and games in teaching and learning.

6. Welcomed two guests from Peace Corps Headquarters in Washington D.C. to my village.  My site mate, Amir, and I welcomed two guests from D.C. as well as our country director to our village when they came to Moldova for a week or so.  We were their first volunteer visit, and we welcomed them to our school along with our partner teachers, school administration, and some students.  We then accompanied them to our raion center to meet with a larger group of volunteers.  It was a fun day getting to see everyone, and the restaurant we met up at surprised us with a beautiful Peace Corps cake!

7. Started a bullet journal.  I heard about bullet journals from some fellow volunteers and I finally started one.  It’s definitely become one of my new hobbies and has helped me fill my free time in a productive way.

I’m looking forward to the next several months in Moldova and can’t believe how fast my time here is going!


Photo a Day: Days 57-63

Week 9!

Day 57: Dried flowers in the garden
Day 58: Homemade pancakes for breakfast, which I ate with pure maple syrup from home!
Day 59: Students participate in an activity during a homeroom class.
Day 60: Some last fall flowers in the front of our house.
Day 61: After waiting all spring and summer I finally went to the cizmar (cobbler) to get my boots repaired. The cost to get the heels repaired? $2.50
Day 62: Does anyone know what these are? They are found in the forest and my host dad was drying them. The blue ones taste slightly like blueberries but have a pit.
Day 63: The last of the grape harvest, sitting in our courtyard.

Library Opening

Last spring, I began working with a team of teachers and students at my school to plan, write, and implement a grant project to renovate and modernize our school library.  The grant was funded in part by a small Peace Corps grant, as well as by our village’s mayor’s office and our school’s parent association.  Starting in February, we surveyed our students and teachers.  Everyone was in agreement that though there are many things our school needs, the most important need was a “new” school library.

Our children’s literature was in poor shape.
Many of the books were in Cyrillic.

While we had a dedicated school library space, it was in poor condition.  The ceilings and walls had cracks and occasionally parts of the plaster would fall down.  The bookshelves had been cobbled together out of scrap wood and took up much of the space.  The rest of the furniture in the room had been taken from other classrooms, but would be needed for a larger incoming 1st grade class.  A large majority of the books were from the Soviet era and most were in Cyrillic even though our school is a Romanian school.  There was no technology in the library and our school had no computer that was for student use for research.

The almost completed library space after.

The project included renovating the space and repairing the plaster walls and ceilings as well as the purchase and installation of new furniture and technology.  We were able to buy a computer, projector, and projector screen, which were accompanied by a new printer the school had recently purchased.  Most importantly, however, we bought approximately 300 new books for the library, mostly children’s picture books and literature, as well as a few resource books and a set of textbooks for the primary grades.

Opening Ceremony

Our grant project will wrap up at the end of this month, and we still need to have some seminars/workshops with the students and teachers on how to use the new resources we have gained, but the renovations and installations, as well as the purchases, have been completed.

Last Monday, the school officially opened the library.  A group of students from grades 3 through 9 worked with our school librarians to plan a ceremony, which was held in the school’s “Festival Room” due to size constraints in the library.  The concert included songs, poems, and many comments on the importance of books and reading, as well as a short skit.  The students did a fantastic job!

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
Ribbon cutting ceremony in the new space

After, we held a ribbon cutting ceremony in the library.  One of our Peace Corps staff members, Bob, and his wife attended the festivities, and he was given the honor of cutting the ribbon with a 3rd grade student.  A government representative was also in attendance, and donated a number of books as well as laptop to be used in the new space.

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony in the new library!
Ribbon Cutting Ceremony in the new and modern library

I am so impressed by the hard work of our grant team.  So many individuals spent so much of their time and energy on the planning and implementation of this project, and we now have a beautiful, safe, healthy, and useful space for teachers and students to use.

Photo a Day: Days 50-56

Week 8!

Day 50: A rainy fall Saturday.
Day 51: Muddied boots and stairs after two days of steady rain.
Day 52: The ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the opening of our newly renovated and updated school library.
Day 53: My host mom decided the kitchen was too cold and instead served me my lunch at my desk.
Day 54: The chickens have been left to wander our courtyard this week to nibble at the dried flower stems in the garden.
Day 55: 8th and 9th grade students race as part of an activity to bring awareness to the importance of not littering.
Day 56: Even in October, there are still some pretty flowers left in the gardens in Moldova.