Last 100 Days, Days 5-1

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 5-1.  Tomorrow I will be leaving Moldova so this is the final post for the Last 100 Days.  See all of my “Last 100 Days” posts here.

Day 5: I was once again invited to accompany my village’s dance ensemble, this time to an international festival. Knowing it was likely my last chance to see my students dance, I immediately agreed to go. The festival was held outside under the shade of big trees, and the kids and teenagers from my village did a great job! After they finished, we had a bit of time to walk around and eat some food, and then we headed back to the village. I have loved getting to attend these performances over the past two years, and it is something I will dearly miss. (June 2018)
Day 4: I finished out my service with two summer day camps in my village. The first one, with students in grades 6 through 8, was a leadership camp. The second was an English Camp with the theme of “Around the World” for students in grades 3 through 5, where we imagined we were traveling to a different country each day. Both camps were a lot of fun, and it was great to see our students be active and motivated! (June 2018)
Day 3: My school community had a surprise farewell party for me my last week in site. Several teachers and students gathered at the school, and surprised me with a beautiful Moldovan flag cake, champagne, a beautiful gift, my favorite Moldovan food (pelemeni), and kind words. I was so lucky to work at this school with these people, and a fair number of tears were shed as I said goodbye for the last time to my school director, partner teachers, colleagues, students, and school staff. (June 2018)
Day 2: I was so fortunate to live with a wonderful host family for two years in my village. I will miss my host mom and host nieces so, so much! My last two days in the village were spent with them, as well as with my extended host family, who all came to celebrate a delicious meal together one last time. I couldn’t have asked for a better family to call my own in Moldova. (July 2018)
Day 1: Before we leave the country and become RPCVs (Returned Peace Corps Volunteers), we get to ring the COS (Close of Service) bell at Peace Corps headquarters in the capital. The ringing of the bell signifies the end of our service here in Moldova and the beginning of our next adventures. (July 2018)

Last 100 Days, Days 10-6

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 10-6.  See all of my “Last 100 Days” posts here.

Day 10: One week after Easter, Moldovans celebrate “Memorial Easter”. This occurs either on Sunday or Monday, and everyone gathers at the cemetery. There is a service, with the names of all of the departed loved ones read off during a long prayer, then the graves are blessed with food and wine. The week leading up to this, every family spends days in the cemetery cleaning up and decorating the graves of their loved ones, and on the day of the holiday, many families stay and eat a meal at tables set up by the gravestones. (April 2018)
Day 9: On May 9th, one or both of two holidays are celebrated in Moldovan communities: Victory Day, which commemorates the victory of the Allied forces in World War II and also recognizes those who have lost their lives in wars, and Europe Day, which also commemorates the end of World War II and promotes peace. Government and other businesses are closed on this day, and in my village, the students gather at school, then walk the short way to the World War II memorial near the park, where there is a short ceremony before all the students and some community members place flowers around the monument. (May 2018)
Day 8: The English Club I have with a group of 7th, 8th, and 9th grade students has been one of the highlights of my time here in Moldova. To thank them for coming and being interested in English, we had an American “masa”, or meal, at the end of the school year. My site mate, Amir, and I made mac and cheese, tacos, deviled eggs, cornbread, banana bread, cinnamon rolls, chocolate chip cookies, and fruit punch and iced tea for the students who came regularly throughout the year. It was a lot of fun, and I enjoyed getting to share my favorite foods with them! (May 2018)
Day 7: Peace Corps was established in Moldova in 1993, just two years after Moldova’s independence. That means that this year marks 25 years of the Peace Corps in Moldova. To celebrate its 25th anniversary, Peace Corps had a large celebration in the capital, complete with music, videos, a few short speeches, and a nice reception following the ceremony. I was so glad my partners, school director, and my site mate and his partners were able to join us in celebrating. (May 2018)
Day 6: Each year the last day of school falls on May 31st and is celebrated with a ceremony called “Last Bell”. This year’s celebration, being my final Last Bell and also final day of school, was an emotional day for me, as well as for the 9th grade graduates, who will move on to other schools or work next year. It was a beautiful, touching ceremony, and I received a diploma for the work I’ve done in the school as well as a bunch of notes and drawings from my students. I will miss this school, these teachers, and these kids so much when I leave! (May 2018)

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)

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)