Coming from upstate New York, I was a little surprised how early spring came here. Now, spring is in full bloom, with grass starting to sprout up, blossoms on the trees and flowers, warm, sunny days, and gardens and fields being planted.
Last week was particularly warm and beautiful, but a bit windy. From what I’ve observed and heard, fall is more the rainy season here than spring, but it is raining lightly today. I’ve enjoyed lazy afternoons sitting on our front steps and absorbing the sunlight. On Friday, I spent a couple of hours planting potatoes with my host mom.
Yesterday, I had a short training in Chisinau for the volunteers who have been selected to be the mentors for the incoming group of volunteers. During this meeting, we revisited the “Cycle of Vulnerability and Adjustment”, which is a chart that all volunteers become familiar with over the course of their service. Basically, as one of our staff members said, “You are very predictable”. This chart shows the ups and downs of Peace Corps Service and has been found by most volunteers to be very accurate. The first 0-2 months in country are the “honeymoon” period. From 1-3 months, we experience mixed culture site and the roller-coaster goes up and down a lot. Months 3-6 (our first 3 months at our permanent sites) are often times where we are more vulnerable and struggle to adjust. From 6-12 months (which we are hitting the end of now), most volunteers have adjusted pretty well and experience more of a high. However, 12-14 months is often a hard time for volunteers, as they often have a “mid-service crisis”. This is followed by another high for 8 months or so, then the final couple of months are often hard, as volunteers prepare to say goodbye, figure out what’s next, and worry about the future. An interesting take-away was that just as the new group of volunteers arrive and are in their “honeymoon period”, we will be hitting our “mid-service crisis”.
Peace Corps service is a lot like a roller-coaster, with high highs and low lows. It can be hard, but it is also so rewarding. The past couple of weeks have been a mix of both- stressful and hard but also beautiful and good. I’ve dealt with some of the struggles of being a teacher (whether here in Moldova or back in the United States, those struggles are often the same) but also celebrated some major successes.
I’ve also discovered how much I like teaching middle/high-school aged students, which has continuously been a surprise for me. Unlike many education volunteers, I studied education in college. I’d always thought I preferred working with younger, elementary-aged students. But I’m finding I really enjoy working with my 5-9th grade students here (age equivalent to 6th to 10th grade students in the US). There are certainly unique challenges to working with pre-teens and teens, but I’m also really liking it. I started an after-school English Club about a month ago with a number of my 7th, 8th, and 9th grade students and so far it’s been going really well. I have three different mixed-grade groups (I had so many students sign up it wasn’t possible to do in 1 or even 2 groups), and each group meets once a week for 45 minutes (occasionally up to an hour) after school. I’ve loved the freedom to create my own curriculum and incorporate more conversational English and group and partner based activities, and I’ve also liked that I have an opportunity to get to know my students better.
I think that’s all for my random reflections today! For those of you in upstate New York, I’m hoping this warm weather will head your way soon!