Each year on the anniversary of the foundation of Peace Corps, Peace Corps volunteers, communities, and returned Peace Corps volunteers celebrate the Peace Corps. Peace Corps was founded on March 1, 1961 by President John F. Kennedy. Since then, over 220,000 volunteers have served in 140 countries. Each year, Peace Corps Week celebrates the work, successes, and communities of volunteers. This year’s theme was “Highlighting Home”. In our village, my site mate and I decided to put together a week of activities and events to join in the celebrations and promote cross-cultural awareness.
We kicked off our activities with a mini “International Film Festival” on Tuesday. Together with students in 5th through 9th grade, we watched the video submissions to the annual volunteer video contest (see them here). Before watching each video, students found the country on a map and after each video, we discussed what they observed, learned, and made comparisons to what “home” looks like here in Moldova. After we had watched all of them, our students made the observation that while the houses and people may look different from country to country, the feeling of “home” was the same in each place, as well as here in Moldova.
On Thursday we continued our celebration by video-chatting with a 5th grade class in the United States. Our students, along with the students in the USA, prepared questions for each other, and we talked about things like holidays (it was Martisor here in Moldova on Thursday), school, and what kids like to do in the USA and in Moldova. We even taught the American students a couple of words in Romanian!
We wrapped up our Peace Corps Week activities on Friday by welcoming some American guests to our school. Three fellow volunteers came to our village and spoke to about 50 of our 5th to 9th grade students about what and where “home” is for them. My site mate, Amir, and I also presented a bit about our “homes” and family in the United States. Our students were very excited to meet some more Americans!
The week as a whole was a huge success! Our students especially loved video-chatting with American students and meeting the other volunteers. I was reminded of why I came here and the importance of the 2nd and 3rd goals of the Peace Corps: “to help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served” and “to help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans”. This is why we are here, and we have so much to learn from one another.