Happy 25 Years, Peace Corps Moldova!

This year is the 25th anniversary of Peace Corps in Moldova. Peace Corps began in Moldova in 1993, just 2 years after Moldova gained its independence. Since them over 1,500 volunteers have served here, working with 852 schools and other local organizations. Some statistics of the impact Peace Corps has had (source):

Yesterday, Peace Corps Moldova celebrated together with Peace Corps volunteers, staff, host families, and local partners in the capital. There was a nice ceremony, which included some short speeches by Jody Olsen (Peace Corps director), Tracey Hebert-Seck (Moldova Country director), and James Pettit (US Ambassador to the Republic of Moldova).  A number of videos were shared with greetings from partners across Moldova, some volunteers shared their stories, and even stories from some Moldovans whose lives have been touched by Peace Corps Volunteers.  A documentary, created over the past couple months and featuring a few Peace Corps Moldova volunteers as they go about their days, was shown (you can find that here). The finale was a dance performance with a group of Moldovan women and girls performing an African dance, which has been one of the projects of my fellow volunteer Anne.

From left: my site mate Amir, me, Amir’s partner teacher Valentina, our school director Feodora, my partner teacher Ina, Amir’s partner teacher Ludmila, and my partner teacher Liuba.

After, there was a reception with delicious food and cake. I was glad my two teaching partners, school director, and my site mate Amir’s two teaching partners were all able to join us for this special day!

Last 100 Days, Days 45-41

As I’ve mentioned, I’m sharing a photo and a look back on my favorite memories in moments in Moldova for each of my last 100 days here.  I’m counting down, so here are days 45-41.  See all of my “Last 100 Days” posts here.

Day 45: Three of my host nieces spent about half of the summer at our house while visiting their grandparents (my host parents). I spent a lot of time with them playing, making them “English food”, and helping my host mom watch them. (July 2017)
Day 44: One day while the younger host nieces were doing something with my host mom, my host niece Valerica decided to dress up in my things. She loves to pretend to be a “photo model” and has quite the attitude! She certainly makes us all laugh. (July 2017)
Day 43: One of the highlights of my two years in Moldova was having the opportunity to welcome my American parents to my village. We spent about 3 days with my host family and it was so special to see the parents that raised me spend time with the family that has taken care of me during my time here in Moldova. (July 2017)
Day 42: While my parents were in Moldova, we visited the city of Comrat with my host dad. Comrat is the capital of the semi-autonomous region of Gagauzia. This region speaks primarily Russian, as well as Gagauz (a version of Turkish) and have a unique culture and traditions. (July 2017)
Day 41: Together with my parents and my host sister, we visited the Purcari Winery. This winery produces some of the best wine in Moldova and is located in the region I live in. We took a tour and did a tasting. (July 2017)

Last 100 Days, Days 50-46

As I’ve mentioned, I’m sharing a photo and a look back on my favorite memories in moments in Moldova for each of my last 100 days here.  I’m counting down, so here are days 50-46.  See all of my “Last 100 Days” posts here.

Day 50: To make up for an extra day off for school, we had school one Saturday in May. Instead of regular lessons, our school had a sports day. The younger students played different games at the school, and the older kids headed to the village’s sports’ field to play various games and competitions. (May 2017)
Day 49: The last day of school in Moldova is called “Last Bell” and there is a large ceremony to celebrate the end of another school year. A first grade girl sits on the shoulders of a 9th grade boy, ringing a large bell to signal the end of school. Since our village’s school only provides education until 9th grade (after that, students travel to other towns and cities), it was also a bit of a goodbye to the 9th graders. (May 2017)
Day 48: The first day of summer vacation is Children’s Day, a holiday celebrated across the country. Students of various ages sang, danced, and played at our local park as part of the celebration, and then every student received free ice cream. (June 2017)
Day 47: The teachers from my school decided to go on a day trip after school had ended. We traveled to the north of the country, where we visited the Saharna and Tipova monasteries. On our way home, we stopped to have a picnic. It was a lot of fun to go on a trip with my colleagues and we all enjoyed spending time with each other outside of school. (June 2017)
Day 46: Moldova has an abundance of fresh, delicious cherries! These cherries were picked from a tree in our garden and they were so tasty! (June 2017)

An American “Masa”

In Romanian, masă means a number of things. It can be used to say “table”, “meal” or even sometimes what we would consider a “party” (of the dinner party sense). It’s a word we hear every day as volunteers and it is a time of not just eating, but also of gathering with friends and family.

One of the highlights of my service in Moldova has been working with a group of my 7th, 8th, and 9th grade students at English Club for the past two years. Today was our last English Club meeting. To thank them for 2 wonderful years, my site mate Amir and I decided to surprise them with an “American masă”.

We made some of our favorite foods and also served iced tea and fruit punch. It was a lot of work (several days of baking and cooking), but in the end it was a huge success! Our menu consisted of deviled eggs, cornbread, banana bread, cinnamon rolls, mac and cheese, tacos, and chocolate chip cookie bars. After everyone had eaten and tried all of the foods, we asked them which of the foods were their favorites.  The overwhelming majority voted the tacos as their number one favorite, closely followed by the chocolate chip cookie bars!

Since this was also our last meeting, I said a short speech thanking them for coming to English Club, for being interested in learning English, and for helping make my two years here in Moldova so wonderful. They, in turn, thanked me for coming here and teaching and working with them both during lessons and at English Club. I somehow managed to keep back the tears- but was also very touched by their words. I will miss these kids so much when I leave, but I’m very glad for the time we’ve spent learning, working, and spending time together!

Photo credit: Amir Feinberg

Last 100 Days, Days 55-51

As I’ve mentioned, I’m sharing a photo and a look back on my favorite memories in moments in Moldova for each of my last 100 days here.  I’m counting down, so here are days 55-51.  See all of my “Last 100 Days” posts here.

Day 55: During my second semester of teaching, we started an after-school English Club for students in 7th through 9th grade. It was very well-attended, and we even got a visit one day from my the Peace Corps Moldova country director, which everyone really enjoyed! (April 2017)
Day 54: For most Moldovans, Easter is the most important holiday and biggest celebration of the year. My host mom made these sweet breads, called “pasca” in preparation for the holiday. (April 2017)
Day 53: Although spring usually comes to Moldova in March, we had a very unusual late April snowstorm my first spring here. Almost two feet of snow fell in my village, and we were without power for a couple of days. Thankfully, the damage to crops and fruit trees in my part of the country were minimal, though other parts of the country had more damage. (April 2017)
Day 52: One spring weekend, I took a mini-vacation with a volunteer friend. We visited the Victory Memorial and Eternal Flame, a small park and memorial for those that died in World War II. The park is very peaceful, and the memorial is beautiful. (May 2017)
Day 51: My friend Andrea and I visited Curchi Monastery on a beautiful spring weekend. Moldova has many beautiful monasteries, and this one was no exception. Though smaller than some, Curchi Monastery has been beautifully and lovingly restored after it was nearly completely destroyed during Soviet times. (May 2017)