This past weekend, my ninth grade students had their “Balul Absolvenţilor”, or Graduates Ball. This is a bit of a mixture between a graduation ceremony and prom. It is also the last step for the students before they are truly finished with their mandatory schooling. From my understanding, in many villages and towns these can be quite extravagant events, but because it was during the fasting period, my school’s celebration was a bit more laid back.
The students dressed up very nicely (girls in gowns, boys in collared shirt and tie/bow-tie) and their parents and teachers gathered with them in the school courtyard. The evening started with a ceremony, and the students received their diplomas and did a few performances (some singing, poem recitations, and dancing).
This was followed by a masa (meal/party) inside for everyone. Though it was supposedly a “simple” masa, it was still pretty extravagant- tons of food and drinks. After some toasts and eating, the students went outside for a dance while the adults continued to eat and drink. After everyone had plenty of time to eat, the adults were invited outside for dancing together with the students. The music was traditional and popular Moldovan music, and there were several different hora (Moldovan traditional dance) dances. After quite a while of dancing, everyone returned inside for round two of the masa and the students continued their dance outside.
The entire night was beautiful and memorable. It was also a bit bittersweet. After this summer, most of the students will go on to school or work in other towns, villages, and perhaps even countries. I won’t probably see many of them much after this. At the beginning of the year, this was a group of students that was a bit difficult. But by the end of the year, I was comfortable teaching them and was quite proud of their accomplishments. So I will miss them.
It was also bittersweet because it is one of the last big events in my village that I will experience as the only American. In August, I will be joined in my village by another wonderful volunteer, who will be teaching health at my school. Though I’m very excited to have a site mate and Amir, my new site mate, is really great, it was a little weird to realize that this is one of the last things I will experience “alone” at my site. My new site mate was visiting this weekend to check out the village and attended the first part of the night (the ceremony part) but went back to his host family’s after the ceremony (and was very kind to send me the pictures he took since I didn’t take any).
I have a feeling this will be one of my favorite memories from my time here. I had a great time and also felt a part of the community in a way I hadn’t completely felt before.
*All photos and videos by Amir F., used with permission.