Library Opening

Last spring, I began working with a team of teachers and students at my school to plan, write, and implement a grant project to renovate and modernize our school library.  The grant was funded in part by a small Peace Corps grant, as well as by our village’s mayor’s office and our school’s parent association.  Starting in February, we surveyed our students and teachers.  Everyone was in agreement that though there are many things our school needs, the most important need was a “new” school library.

Our children’s literature was in poor shape.
Many of the books were in Cyrillic.

While we had a dedicated school library space, it was in poor condition.  The ceilings and walls had cracks and occasionally parts of the plaster would fall down.  The bookshelves had been cobbled together out of scrap wood and took up much of the space.  The rest of the furniture in the room had been taken from other classrooms, but would be needed for a larger incoming 1st grade class.  A large majority of the books were from the Soviet era and most were in Cyrillic even though our school is a Romanian school.  There was no technology in the library and our school had no computer that was for student use for research.

The almost completed library space after.

The project included renovating the space and repairing the plaster walls and ceilings as well as the purchase and installation of new furniture and technology.  We were able to buy a computer, projector, and projector screen, which were accompanied by a new printer the school had recently purchased.  Most importantly, however, we bought approximately 300 new books for the library, mostly children’s picture books and literature, as well as a few resource books and a set of textbooks for the primary grades.

Opening Ceremony

Our grant project will wrap up at the end of this month, and we still need to have some seminars/workshops with the students and teachers on how to use the new resources we have gained, but the renovations and installations, as well as the purchases, have been completed.

Last Monday, the school officially opened the library.  A group of students from grades 3 through 9 worked with our school librarians to plan a ceremony, which was held in the school’s “Festival Room” due to size constraints in the library.  The concert included songs, poems, and many comments on the importance of books and reading, as well as a short skit.  The students did a fantastic job!

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
Ribbon cutting ceremony in the new space

After, we held a ribbon cutting ceremony in the library.  One of our Peace Corps staff members, Bob, and his wife attended the festivities, and he was given the honor of cutting the ribbon with a 3rd grade student.  A government representative was also in attendance, and donated a number of books as well as laptop to be used in the new space.

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony in the new library!
Ribbon Cutting Ceremony in the new and modern library

I am so impressed by the hard work of our grant team.  So many individuals spent so much of their time and energy on the planning and implementation of this project, and we now have a beautiful, safe, healthy, and useful space for teachers and students to use.

Photo a Day: Days 50-56

Week 8!

Day 50: A rainy fall Saturday.
Day 51: Muddied boots and stairs after two days of steady rain.
Day 52: The ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the opening of our newly renovated and updated school library.
Day 53: My host mom decided the kitchen was too cold and instead served me my lunch at my desk.
Day 54: The chickens have been left to wander our courtyard this week to nibble at the dried flower stems in the garden.
Day 55: 8th and 9th grade students race as part of an activity to bring awareness to the importance of not littering.
Day 56: Even in October, there are still some pretty flowers left in the gardens in Moldova.

Ziua Profesorului (Teacher’s Day) 2017

An 8th grade student presents her class’s wishes for the teachers.
A 6th grade students shares wishes for the teachers.
Some 8th graders present a poem for the teachers.

October 5 is International Teacher’s Day, and here in Moldova it’s a very big holiday (read about last year’s celebration here).  At our school, we started the day off with a short assembly outside in the school’s courtyard.  One student from each class presented their wishes for the teachers and thanked them for the work they do.

Some teachers at the school.
Some teachers at the school (I’m in the front in the center).

On Thursdays, my partner Liuba and I teach our younger students in 2nd through 3rd grade.  One of the Moldovan traditions for Teacher’s Day is for older students to teach some of the lessons throughout the day instead of the teachers.

A 9th grade student teachers one of our 3rd grade classes.
An 8th grade student teaches the other 3rd grade class.

For our two 3rd grade classes, two girls, one in 8th grade and one in 9th grade, taught our lessons.  We sat in the back and helped a little as needed.  The 3rd graders were very excited to have older students teach the class and the two “teachers” did a good job.

8th grade students perform in a concert for the teachers.
Students perform a humorous skit.

During our classes, some of the students gave us flowers and other prepared small speeches to thank us.  According to one of my 4th grade boys, I am very pretty and they like to have lessons with me very much because I never yell at them.

8th grade girls sing for the teacgers.
All of the teachers, with the 8th grade students.

After lessons, some of the teachers went to our raion center for a big concert and ceremony, but I didn’t join them.  On Friday, the 8th graders prepared a concert for us, with poems, songs, and even a skit.  Then, that evening, all of the teachers went to a larger nearby town to have a really nice party at a restaurant.  We ate, drank, and danced for several hours.  It was a really nice celebration and everyone seemed to have a very nice time.

Photo a Day: Days 43-49

Week 7!

Day 43: I helped pick grapes, which sit in a basket waiting to be made into wine.
Day 44: Another beautiful autumn sunset over the neighbors’ houses.
Day 45: Grapes are crushed and begin to ferment at the beginning of the wine-making process.
Day 46: Surprise autumn strawberries! My host mom called me and told me to come to the garden to pick strawberries and I was thoroughly perplexed until I saw these growing.
Day 47: Grapes ferment in barrels in our courtyard.
Day 48: A group of teachers at school with the flowers we received for Ziua Profesorului (Teacher’s Day).
Day 49: Teacher’s Day celebrations continue. Our entire faculty poses with the 8th grade students, who put on a lovely concert for us.

Autumn in Moldova

Autumn has arrived in Moldova!  After a couple rather warm weeks at the beginning of September, the weather became more chilly and the last several days the air has been crisp and cool.  We even had frost yesterday morning!

Autumn in Moldova is the harvest and wine-making season.  My host parents have spent the last several weeks harvesting corn and grapes.  The corn husks are removed and the corn ears are placed on the ground outside our house to dry.  Later, the corn will be put through a special machine that removes all the kernels, which are then crushed and used for animal feed.  The remaining cobs will be placed in a lean-to and used throughout the winter months as kindling in our wood-fired stove.

The grapes are picked by the bundle and any dried or damaged grapes are removed before the bundle is placed in buckets, which are then emptied in a large basket and wheeled home in a wheelbarrow.  The grapes are then dumped in a large cone and a special apparatus crushes the grapes, which fall into the wooden barrel below.  The grapes then ferment for a couple of days before they are further developed into wine.  We’ll drink this wine throughout the upcoming year.  Other grapes are used to create grape compote, which is a homemade juice.

At school, quite a few students were absent this week because they were helping to harvest the rest of the grapes before we get a hard freeze.  Our school has been cold this week as it is too early to start heating the building, and when all the teachers sit or stand in the teachers’ lounge bundled up in coats and sweaters and wringing their hands to keep them warm, someone is bound to say, matter-of-factly, “Iarna vine.” (Winter is coming).

The gorgeous sunsets of Moldovan autumns have returned, painting the sky pink and orange.  Each night I look out my window to watch as the sky turns color.

Everyone is busy getting everything ready and finished before winter hits.  Three of the four seasons are busy with plenty of work outside to do, but in winter, little work can be done outside other than shoveling snow.  My host parents tell stories over our pre-bedtime cup of tea about the past, and share that when they were children, the women would keep busy in the winter by using large looms to make rugs and by sewing and embroidering and knitting.  But these days, those traditions have largely died out and winter is quiet and sometimes a tad bit boring.

For now, I’m relishing the cooler temperatures after a far-too-hot summer and bundling up with layers of sweaters and warming my hands with hot cups of tea.  I’m appreciating my favorite season and documenting it as best I can, because this is the last autumn I will spend in Moldova.  Next year, I will be home to see the hills of my hometown turn bright with color, drink apple cider, and go to the pumpkin patch with my family.  But for now, I am enjoying the traditions of this culture and learning to pick grapes and make homemade wine.