2017 was a good year. This was my only complete calendar year spent in Moldova, and I’m so lucky that I’ve had such an amazing adventure here. 2017 wasn’t without its challenges, but it really was a year full of wonderful memories, fun adventures, and special moments. Here my top 20 memories and moments from the past year.
Graduation Ball. In July, the 9th grade students graduated from our school and had a dance and ceremony. I think this will remain one of my very favorite memories of my time here. It was one of the first moments when I felt completely a part of my community. Together with the new graduates, their parents and families, and the other teachers at school, I ate and danced until the early hours of the morning. It was a special celebration and I was so glad I got to be a part of it.
Walking through the fields. In August, right before the first day of school, I walked through the fields on the margin of my village with my host mom, host sister, host niece, my sister, and a fellow volunteer. It was such a beautiful day and it was such a nice escape into nature before the school year started again.
Visiting Et Cetera Winery. When my sister was visiting, we visited this winery with a friend. It was such a peaceful mini-vacation with excellent food, great lodging, and friendly people.
My parent’s visit to Moldova and our trip to Romania. It was so cool to be able to show my parents around the country that is my home now, as well as to go to Romania. It was a wonderful vacation and I’m so grateful they were able to make the trip.
My sister’s visit to Moldova. On the same note, I was so happy my sister was able to make it here as well! It was fun to show her around Chisinau and my village and my students still talk about her sometimes (she went to the first day of school with me).
Language Day Celebration. Our village went all out this year for the Language Day and Independence Day celebrations, with culinary competitions, dancing, and sports competitions. The pole climbing competition made me a bit nervous, but was fun to watch.
My host niece dressing up in my clothes. One afternoon, my 7-year-old host niece, Valerica, dressed up in one of my skirts, my sunglasses, my earrings, and even my name tag! She then declared she was a model and I was her photographer. It was a fun way to spend the afternoon and she always makes me laugh!
English Club. This is more like a lot of wonderful moments combined. So many of my best days in the last year are thanks to the English Club I do with my 7th to 9th grade students. Most recently, some of my students in 7th grade told me that they don’t want me to leave this summer because everything is better now that I’m here. When I asked them what they meant, they said that they want to come to school now and that they love having something to do after school.
Teacher’s Day Party. Instead of doing a small celebration at the school like they normally do, the teachers at my school decided to pay a bit of money and have a larger celebration at a restaurant in the next town over to celebrate Teacher’s Day. We ate, drank, and danced the night away and everyone (including me) had a lot of fun. I also mastered (at least as much as I probably ever will) our village’s version of Moldova’s national dance, the hora.
Mini-Vacation to the North of Moldova. This past spring, my friend Andrea and I took a weekend trip to the northern part of Moldova and also spent some time in Chisinau. We visited Curchi Monastery and Orhei Vechi on a guided tour. We also ate at some nice restaurants in Chisinau and attended the opening of a Himalayan restaurant. It was a really nice trip before the last leg of school.
Winter Walk to Ermoclia. Last winter, after a snowstorm and freezing temperatures for too many days, my host mom and I took a long walk to the next village. The snow was pristine and the temperatures warmer and after several days cooped up inside, it was a welcome escape. We visited her friends there then walked halfway back before someone offered us a ride back to town.
Teachers’ Excursion. Last summer, the teachers at my school took a trip one Saturday to two monasteries in the northern part of the country. We visited Saharna Monastery and Tipova Monastery, taking in the gorgeous views and nice (though very hot!) weather. On our way back, we had a full picnic on the side of the road. It was a lot of fun and helped me get to know the other teachers better!
PCV Thanksgiving. A little over a month ago, I got together with a group of volunteers to celebrate Thanksgiving. The food was great and the company even better. After spending the entire autumn in my little village, it was nice to get together with other Americans and eat all the foods we had been missing.
Constelatia Talentelor. One recent Friday, I got to accompany the student dance ensemble from my village to an international competition in Chisinau. The students are all my students at school and I went to film it for them. They did a great job and I spent most of the afternoon with them, helping me get to know my students better. They actually ended up getting called back for the finals and won Grand Prize!
A Day in Chisinau with Valerica. This past summer, I spent most of a day showing my host niece Valerica around Chisinau. Although she’s been to Chisinau, she hadn’t seen most of the tourist attractions, and it was really fun to see it all through her eyes. We ate (at her request) at Smokehouse, an American BBQ restaurant, where she had mac and cheese and a strawberry milkshake. Then we walked around Cathedral Park and Stefan cel Mare Park, where she got to ride on a carousel. Finally, we rode on a trolley bus (a first for her). We had so much fun!
Harvesting Locust Flowers with My Host Mom. This past spring, I helped my mom harvest locust flowers to use in tea. It was great bonding time with her and I was happy to help out with something (although my fingers hurt a bit).
Planting Potatoes and Collecting Grapes. My family in the United States has a small garden, but I had never really planted potatoes. I helped my host mom plant several rows one afternoon and can’t wait to do the same when I return to America in our family’s garden. I also spent some time helping my host parents pick grapes to make into wine.
Welcoming Turul Moldovei to my village. Turul Moldovei, a group of Peace Corps volunteers doing a walking tour and spreading peace along the way, spent a night with my host family and me this summer. We visited our school and the local library and cultural center and spent an evening eating great food.
Being Home for the Holidays. I am so, so happy I had the opportunity to come home for Christmas and the winter holidays. After spending Christmas abroad last year, it was nice to be home with my family and friends. We’ve had a great two weeks and I’ll be sad to head back to Moldova later this week (but also excited to see everyone there again as well). I love my life and experience in Moldova, but there really is no place like home (however cliche that is).
Well, that’s a wrap. Here’s to a happy, healthy, and successful 2018!