Our M31 EE group had our IST (in-service training) this past week in the capital. It was a busy 6 days of various sessions. Last Saturday and Sunday we started off our IST with two days of language training along with the M31 HE (Health Education) volunteers. We split up into groups of 5-6 volunteers and worked on learning Romanian each day for about 8 hours. We also had some cultural sessions where we discussed winter holidays, celebrations, and traditions in Moldova. It was an exhausting two days, filled with some really tough grammar.
Then, Monday through Thursday, we had our technical IST. I think we had approximately 30 sessions on things ranging from using the textbooks, to phonemes and morphemes, to being more aware of the content of the textbooks in terms of gender stereotypes and gender equitable practices. On Thursday, we ended with an Open Space session, where we split up into groups to talk about topics that we had come up with throughout the week. During the Open Sessions, I talked with a group of other volunteers about handling stress and coping strategies and also about working with our partners.
Most of the sessions were led by volunteers, both those from my group and several that are in their second year in Moldova. I facilitated 4 sessions: Language Awareness, Using Textbooks, Classroom Assessments, and MR&E: How We Share Our Progress (which was about how to present projects and needs assessment results to our community members in order to get their backing).
We were on our own to find housing, as well as for meals, though we did have “snack” breaks with food, coffee, and tea. I shared an AirBnB apartment with another volunteer. We had a kitchen, which was really nice! We also ate at a number of great restaurants, including a Mexican restaurant, a Greek restaurant, and several other restaurants. The food was amazing and a nice break from the food I eat on a regular basis.
I really enjoyed getting to spend so much time with my fellow volunteers. As much as I love my site, it was also nice to have a bit of a break and get away for a bit. And, at the end of 6 days, I was ready to return home and spend time with my host family.