Today marks one year in Moldova. This means I am close to half through my time here in Moldova. The time has passed incredibly quickly. Though not without challenges, my first year here has been a positive, amazing journey. Here’s a recap of my second half-year in Moldova (you can find a recap of the first six months here).
Month 7: December.
I participated in Dressember, to raise funds and awareness about human trafficking. I took a weekend trip towards the north and Criuleni for a yoga retreat with other volunteers, stopping on the way in Chisinau and checking out some of the tourist sites while the snow fell lightly. I got used to the winter weather, spent many evenings eating sunflower seeds with my host mom and talking, and continued to bucket bathe (though much more rarely as it was cold!). I went to my raion center (Stefan Voda) to run errands with my host mom on the oldest bus I’ve seen in Moldova. We celebrated the holidays at school: I taught my 3rd and 4th graders “Jingle Bells”, my 4th grade students surprised me with balloons for my birthday, and we had a afternoon and night of festivities at the school, with songs and dance. I spent Christmas Eve in Chisinau with some other volunteers and ate at a really nice Italian restaurant for my birthday. On Christmas morning, I headed back to my village and celebrated my birthday with my host family, school director, and partner teacher and her family. The next day, my colleagues at school surprised me with a beautiful birthday present.
Month 8: January.
I celebrated the New Year with my host parents at home, enjoying the fireworks many of the neighbors set off. I attended the village’s Winter “Carnival”, which was like a variety show, with my host-niece. We celebrated the old (traditional Moldovan) Christmas and New Year, complete with carolers coming to our house (mostly my students). The bathroom was finished (though the shower didn’t work) and I no longer had to use the outhouse! We had a big snowstorm and very cold temperatures for a week. I walked to a nearby town with my host mom. I participated in the Blogging Abroad New Year’s Challenge (my posts: 7 Ways Globalization Shows Up in Moldova; 5 Ways My Students Give Me Hope; Cheating? What’s That?; and Looking Beyond Our Assumptions) and was featured on Design Mom. We had a conference on grants and projects in Chisinau, and I visited MallDova for the first time. I received a big, amazing package from my friends with all my most-missed foods.
Month 9: February.
My partner teacher and I held “English Week” at school. We also had our first “open lesson”, which is an observed lesson. I observed a couple of “open lessons” as well, a homeroom lesson and a Romanian lesson. The weather changed and spring approached. I visited my host sister in Boscana and some other extended family near there. We celebrated Grigore Vieru, a famous Moldovan poet and writer, at school with an assembly. I went to Stefan Voda with my host mom and nearly got frostbite. I spent a weekend in Chisinau for a language training. At school, we had “Festelita Are Talent” (Festelita Has Talent), celebrated Dragomete (sort of like Valentine’s Day), and started our weekly English Club. Peace Corps week started, and I skyped with my mom’s 5th graders in the United States.
Month 10: March.
We finished Peace Corps Week: my students helped create a video, and I participated in a Peace Corps Week event in Causeni. Marţişor, which is the holiday that welcomes spring in Moldova, was celebrated. My English Education group of volunteers gathered at our fellow volunteers’, Champa and David’s, to enjoy Nepali food and American desserts. We had a short spring break off from school and celebrated International Women’s Day. We had “control” at our school- which is essentially an audit and a week of observations. I completed and submitted my VRF, which is the document that Peace Corps uses to monitor our successes and work in country. My host mom and I went to my school director’s birthday party. I spent a day in Chisinau for mentor training for the new group of volunteers. The weather was beautiful and warm! My partner teacher, Ina, returned from her maternity leave.
Month 11: April.
I went to Chisinau for a weekend to celebrate a fellow volunteer’s birthday and enjoy the gorgeous weather. My host niece, Valerica, visited for a few days. My English Club at school skyped with a friend’s 3rd grade class in the United States. We enjoyed gorgeous spring- and even summer-like weather. Tracey, our Peace Corps Moldova country director, visited my school and came to an English Club meeting. My school and I worked on and submitted a grant proposal for a Peace Corps SPA grant. I enjoyed Easter Break, and celebrated both Easter and Memorial Easter. I walked with my host mom and visited her sister, who had a baby calf! We had a huge, late snow storm that caused wide-spread damage throughout Moldova and left us without power for 2 full days. Good weather returned quickly. I went to Chisinau again with a partner from school (a Romanian teacher) to present our grant proposal (and we were awarded the grant!) and also visited my host sister in Boscana.
Month 12: May.
I spent a lot of time outside on the wooden swing my host dad built. We celebrated Labor Day (which was uneventful in my village) and Victory Day (celebrated by all of the students gathering by the monument in our village, a few gun salutes by veterans, and flowers laid by the monument). I took a mini-vacation within Moldova with my friend and fellow volunteer Andrea. We visited the Victory Memorial and Eternal Flame monument and park in Chisinau and attended the opening of a new Himalaya Restaurant, along with a number of other volunteers. The following day, we went on a guided tour to Curchi Monastery and Orhei Vechi. I wrapped up my English Club for the school year with a competitive game of Jeopardy. School began to wrap up with end-of-year exams and restless students as well as a Saturday day of classes in the form of a Day of Sports. I helped my host mom harvest flowers from locust trees (used to make tea) and we took an afternoon trip to a nearby town’s hram (where we met up with fellow volunteer Erika). I ate the first strawberries of the season and helped my host mom pick locust flowers to make tea with. And, finally, the school year ended with the Last Bell Ceremony.
It has been a pretty good first half of this Peace Corps journey!