“Around the World” Summer Day Camp

The participants with their diplomas sporting big “American” smiles

This past week we had an “Around the World in 5 Days” themed English summer camp at our school with students in 3rd through 5th grade. Each day, we “traveled” to a country on each of the continents (minus Antarctica), learned about the country, and did a craft and/or game inspired by that country. The students had passports that we glued stamps into each day after we “traveled” to the country. We had a lot of fun and a decent turn out, so I’d say it was a success!

Day 1: Making mosaics
Day 1: Valeria with her finished mosaic of a pizza
Day 1: The finished mosaics

On Monday, we traveled to Italy in Europe. We learned about Italy, talking about some of the popular places people like to visit, then created mosaics from paper, inspired by the famous mosaics of the Roman Empire. The students also received their passports for the week and their workbooks. We learned some English vocabulary, such as boot (the shape of Italy), canal, and bridge.

Day 2: Learning African drumming thanks to our guest Peace Corps volunteer, Anne
Day 2: Learning an African dance
Day 2: Filling out worksheets for vocabulary and fast facts about Senegal

On Tuesday, we traveled to Senegal in Africa. A fellow Peace Corps volunteer, Anne, joined us and taught the students some African drumming and dance, which the students really loved! After, we learned a bit about Senegal and some English vocabulary such as grasslands, savanna, and prehistoric.

Day 3: Doing the Hokey Pokey
Day 3: Playing Simon Says
Day 3: Making, and then unraveling, a human knot

On Wednesday, we traveled to two countries: The United States of America in North America and Peru in South America. Some vocabulary we learned included stars, stripes, prairie, rain forest, and guinea pig. We played some classic American children’s games outside, such as Simon Says, Red Light Green Light, and the Hokey Pokey. It was a lot of fun!

Day 4: Our camp workbooks and passports
Day 4: Playing Simon Says with our guest volunteer, Alicia
Day 4: The students with the mandalas they colored

On Thursday, we traveled to Thailand in Asia. A fellow volunteer, Alicia, joined us. We learned about Thailand, including some favorite Thai foods and English vocabulary such as spicy and jungle. We did some simple meditation while the students colored mandalas and listened to some meditation music (I’ve never seen them be so quiet!). After, we played a children’s game from Thailand called “Stealing the Leaves”, which was fun!

Day 5: Making paintings inspired by Aboriginal dot painting
Day 5: Water balloon fight
Day 5: Our finished paintings

On Friday, our last day, we learned about Australia. After learned some interesting facts about Australia and looking at a bunch of photos, we made some paintings inspired by Aboriginal Dot Paintings. They turned out quite well! Since it was the last day, we then went outside and played games, including a water balloon toss and fight! At the end of the camp, we handed out diplomas and reflected on the camp.

I think the kids really enjoyed the camp and they learned a lot about some places and countries they didn’t know much about before. They even asked if there would be another camp next week! This was my last official project in Moldova, and the last time I will work with my students. Friday was a bittersweet day because of that, but I bought the two older students that helped a ton throughout the week some ice cream and we sat and talked for a while. These two students are in 6th grade and I only taught them for part of my time here, so I didn’t know either well before the past two weeks. I was so impressed by both of them and the camp wouldn’t have been so successful without their hard work!

Last 100 Days, Days 15-11

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 15-11.  See all of my “Last 100 Days” posts here.

Day 15: We had a full schedule of events for Peace Corps Week at our school this year! We had a mini film festival with volunteer videos from across the world, video-chatted with a class in the U.S.A., and welcomed three other Peace Corps volunteers to our school to talk about where and what home means to them. It was a really fun, interesting week and the students really enjoyed it! (March 2018)
Day 14: For International Women’s Day, my village had a concert at our Casa de Cultura, with performances by some of our students, the local dance ensemble, a professional orchestra, and several well-known Moldovan singers. The dance ensemble, made up of students in 7th through 10th grades, performed a new dance, which was really beautiful (pictured here). (March 2018)
Day 13: One of my favorite Moldovan holidays is that of “Mărţişor”. This holiday occurs on the first day of spring, which is celebrated on March 1st. People give each other these red-and-white amulets, called “mărţişoare”. They celebrate the coming of spring and are wishes of good luck. At the end of March, they hang the amulets on a budding tree. (March 2018)
Day 12: Each spring, a week or two before Easter, spring cleaning occurs in every household and around the village. School ends a bit early on one day and all the students, accompanied by their teachers, clean up the village in preparation for the Easter holiday. Each class is assigned a different part of the village, where they pick up garbage, rake up any leaves remaining from the autumn, and whitewash the tree trunks. (April 2018)
Day 11: I celebrated Easter in my village once again this year. My host dad and I joined my host mom at the church at 4:00 in the morning, and we gathered with everyone along the roads surrounding the church with baskets full of meat, special Easter breads, and red-dyed eggs. The priest then went around, blessing each person and each basket by splashing water on them. After, we returned home (it was still fairly dark out) and broke the Easter fast by eating the food from the basket and drinking a glass of wine before going back to sleep. (April 2018)

“The Future is Ours” Summer Day Camp

My site mate Amir and I decided to go all out for our summer work this year and planned two one-week day camps for June. The first camp wrapped up this past Friday, and we had so much fun! The camp was a half-day camp about leadership with students in 6th through 8th grade. We had 24 students sign up but only about 8-10 showed up daily. Although a little disappointing, I think the students that did come really enjoyed it, and it was a success!

Day 1: What are our values?
Day 1: What are some of our skills?
Day 1: What are some of our skills? Individually? As a team?

Because our students are younger and have little leadership experience, we stuck to the basics and also made sure to include lots of team-building and fun activities as well. The first day we talked about our values and our skills. The students made posters about the values they had in common, such as family, health, friends, and peace. They also wrote poems about the camp. We chose the one we liked best and said it throughout the week (translated to English):

“We have a beautiful camp, Here we feel at home, We discover many things, And learn about everything. It’s summer camp, It’s hot outside, We are joyful, That we are here. We meet our friends, And talk with them day by day, We’ll do our best, We won’t return home!”

Day 2: What are some leadership qualities?
Day 2: Some examples of famous leaders
Day 2: Playing Simon Says

The second day we talked about what a leader is and some examples of internationally recognized leaders. We discussed the qualities of leaders and also named some people in our community who demonstrated those qualities and who are leaders in the community. We played some games outside as well. I was surprised to find out that these middle-school-aged kids were perfectly happy playing classic American kid games such as relay races, Simon Says, Red Light Green Light, and even dancing the Hokey Pokey! I guess for them these were just fun games and they were mostly new games for them! The students’ favorite activity of the day, however, was “The Number Game” where they had to try to count to 20 as a group without any communication or gestures (every time two people say the next number at the same time, it starts over at 1- it sounds easy but is actually quite challenging!). and the “Chair Activity” in which the students sit in a circle with their chairs close together then lay their head on their neighbor’s legs. The chairs are then removed from beneath them, and they have to see how long they can support one another without anyone falling.

Day 3: The “Chair Activity”- learning to support one another
Day 3: Playing a Moldovan volleyball game
Day 3: Building marshmallow and spaghetti towers

On Wednesday we discussed team leadership and solving problems. We did some fun activities this day as well, like the Human Knot (where everyone links hands with two different people and then have to “unravel” the knot so that they all form a circle again) and building marshmallow and spaghetti towers in teams. Another volunteer, Alicia, from a nearby village joined us this day, and the students taught us three Americans how to play a volleyball-based game, which was a lot of fun! The students really loved the “Chair Activity” in which students sit in a circle with their chairs close together then lay their head on their neighbor’s legs. The chairs are then removed from beneath them, and they have to see how long they can support one another without anyone falling.

Day 4: “Poisonous” Spider Web game
Day 4: Visualizing our dreams for the future (Mrs. Maia, our school accountant, is on the left and was our primary partner for the camp. She helped us a lot on this day helping explain why goals are important!)
Day 4: Confidence building activity by writing anonymous compliments on each other’s backs

Thursday was another fun day and we talked about setting and working toward our goals. The idea of having a plan for our lives and then taking active steps to achieve it is not very common in Moldova, so the students struggled with this part of the day quite a bit. Our main goal was for the students to understand that although our goals may change throughout our life depending on circumstances and our wishes, it’s important to think about where we want to end up and then take some small steps now in order to reach that dream. By the end of the day, the students demonstrated that they now understood the importance of having a plan and knowing what some steps might be to achieve their goals. Since it was a difficult lesson for them, we planned some less serious activities for the afternoon. They made summer bucket lists and did a photo scavenger hunt, which they LOVED. We also talked a bit about Self Confidence and wrote compliments on one another’s backs.

Day 5: Receiving diplomas
Day 5: Water balloon toss
Day 5: Water balloon toss- good thing it was really hot outside!

Our last day, Friday, was a more laid-back day. We reviewed what we had learned throughout the week and handed out diplomas, then headed outside for some games. After our snack break, we recited our poem once more and did the chair activity again. This time, they were able to hold the circle up for over 3 minutes! We then finished the day with a water balloon toss followed by a water balloon fight and a couple of team “photo challenges”.

Day 5: Photo challenge with the prompt “people dancing”
Day 5: Water balloon fight

It was such a great week! The students are begging my site mate to have another day camp later in the summer (I’m wrapping up my service and leaving in two weeks). It was a great way to finish up my time with my older students, and I’m so glad they enjoyed it so much! I definitely enjoyed it as well!

Here’s a video with even more photos from the camp:

Last 100 Days, Days 20-16

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 20-16.  See all of my “Last 100 Days” posts here.

Day 20: I went home to the U.S. for Christmas, but before I left, my host mom accompanied me to the capital. We spent the morning walking around the center, and then she and her friend went to the airport with me to wave me off. (December 2017)
Day 19: One of my favorite Moldovan New Year traditions takes place on January 14. Children go from house to house, wishing each household a healthy and good new year, while throwing seeds at the entrance of the house. The seeds are meant to be good luck in the harvest in the new year. (January 2018)
Day 18: After a cold day cooped up in my house, some neighborhood kids begged me to come sledding with them. Imagine my surprise when I was instead ambushed by a brutal snow fight! It was a lot of fun, but I’m not sure I would do it again- these kids are intense! (January 2018)
Day 17: For my second “English Week” in Moldova, my partners and I went all out! For two weeks, we organized English activities, played special games in classes, had various competitions, and our students made so many posters it was hard to find space on the entrance hallway walls to hang them up! (February 2018)
Day 16: I was excited to attend my second Moldovan wedding this past winter. I joined my host family at the wedding of my host cousin. It was simpler wedding than my first, but just as fun, with plenty of dancing and laughter. My host mom’s family has been so welcoming to me and I’m glad I got to spend time with them. (February 2018)

Last 100 Days, Days 25-21

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 25-21.  See all of my “Last 100 Days” posts here.

Day 25: In the fall, our village was honored to welcome two guests from Peace Corps headquarters in Washington, D.C. Our students greeted them with the traditional bread and salt, we showed them around our school, and talked about education and learning in Moldova. (October 2017)
Day 24: Each village celebrates “Hram”, village day, each year. My village’s hram is held on November 21st. I attended a nice concert at our Casa de Cultura as well as enjoyed a yummy meal at home with my host family. (November 2017)
Day 23: Spending the major U.S. holidays away from home can be a bit sad, but a group of volunteers from my region of Moldova got together in the capital to celebrate Thanksgiving. We ate a bunch of delicious, fully American foods and really enjoyed each other’s company. It was a fun celebration, even if we weren’t home with our families! (November 2017)
Day 22: As the beginning of winter approached, we talked about winter holidays at English Club. My site mate and I taught the students about how we celebrate Christmas, New Year, and Hanukkah. The students especially enjoyed learning how to play dreidel. (November 2017)
Day 21: We spent the month of December in English Club creating posters for a U.S. state project. Each group chose a state, researched it, then created and presented a poster about the state. The students were very involved and active, sometimes staying an hour after our club had officially ended to work on their posters. Several of the groups did a really great job, and they all learned something new. (December 2017)