This past Wednesday we had our final HUB site day- where we talked about Peace Corps policies, the emergency evacuation plan, and monitoring and reporting. After, we spent our last evening with our PST host families and, of course, we also packed. After 10 weeks of training, in which we were given over 10 books on teaching English as a second language and countless handouts, notebooks, and supplies, we all ended up with quite a bit more than what we came with.
My last evening with my PST host family was also my younger host brother’s 11th birthday, so I had finished packing the night before, knowing that we would be having a party for him, which, in typical Moldovan form, would likely last into the morning hours. The masa (meal/celebration) was a family gathering, with many aunts, uncles, cousins, and my host bunica (grandmother). There weren’t enough seats at the table for everyone, so we ate in shifts- first the “kids” ate, along with the women, and once the “kids” were finished, they were replaced with the men. There was delicious barbequed meat (sausages and chicken), sarmale (a traditional Moldovan dish that is rice and vegetables wrapped in cabbage), fish, fruit, torta (cake), and several plates with different compilations on top of bread (the closest thing I can think of in American culture would be bruschetta- but these aren’t grilled, and they are topped with different ingredients- for example, one of the popular versions is bread topped with a thick smear of mayonaise, little fish from a jar that are uncooked, pickles, and finely shredded hard-boiled eggs on top). Of course, there was plenty of house wine to go around (this time it was a fairly cloudy house wine, that wasn’t as strong as many I’ve tasted and very sweet), as well as some beer (which comes in big 2-liter plastic bottles). When the cake was brought out we sang “Multi ani” (the Moldovan birthday song), and then everyone told me to sing the American happy birthday song, which a few of them knew.
Toasts are a big part of celebrations in Moldova, and birthdays are no exception. Almost every person gave a toasts, most along the lines of “multi ani, multi bani, success, si sanitate” (many years, much money, success, and health). I think I actually got more toasts than the birthday boy, though, as everyone knew it was my last night in Costesti. I left the party (it was at my house, so I really just mean that I went inside) pretty early- around 10 PM, but it went on way after I went to sleep.
It was a nice end to a wonderful ten weeks in Costesti for PST. I couldn’t have asked for a better host family. They welcomed me so fully into their house and family. They made me promise to bring my parents to visit them when they come next summer, and my younger host brother has already messaged me on Skype. I’ll miss them for sure!