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.

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.

Photo a Day: Days 36-42

Week 6!

Day 36: A sunset over the neighborhood.
Day 37: A grape vine hangs over our courtyard.
Day 38: Wine-making preparation has begun!
Day 39: Our dog, Rochie, waits patiently to be pet.
Day 40: Harvested corn dries in our courtyard and will be husked for animal feed.
Day 41: A found kitten waits on our doorstep for food from my host mom.
Day 42: Our library grant project is close to completion!

International Day of Peace

Last Thursday, September 21st, was International Day of Peace, a holiday celebrated around the world.  The holiday was established by the UN in 1981 and is devoted to “commemorating and strengthening the ideals of peace both within and among all nations and peoples”(1).  The 2017 theme was “Together for Peace: Respect, Safety, and Dignity for All”(2).

*The following photos are what the students at our school wrote in response to “What does peace mean?”

“Without violence, love between people, respect, kindness, and reverence”
“Understanding between people, liberty”
“Respect between people, friendship, power”

Many Peace Corps volunteers around the globe do various activities to celebrate the holiday in their communities and workplaces.  My site mate, Amir, and I organized some simple activities to commemorate the day in our school.

“United family”, “Quiet and friendship in the country”
“Against enemies success in nonviolent unity”
“Peace-symbol: unity, nonviolence, and collaboration between people”
“Understanding between people, liberty, without violence”

After a short assembly with students in 5th through 9th grade, where some 9th grade students read some information about the holiday and this year’s theme, we gathered all of the students and some of the teachers in the courtyard in front of our school.  The students formed the shape of a peace sign, which most of the students but few of the teachers were familiar with.

“Unity, love, friendship, reverence”
“Peace means friendship and love!”
“Peace is kindness, friendship, reverence, love”
“Peace is friendship, love, kindness, and everything that is on earth”

After, during the breaks throughout the day, students wrote what peace means to them on whiteboards and posed for pictures.

“Peace is friendship, understanding, love, reverence. Love and friendship”
“Peace is unity and understanding between people”
“Love and trust”

It was the first time our school had done something to note the holiday, and the students and teachers alike were interested to learn more (at first, many of the teachers thought it was International Peace Corps Day!).

Sources: (1): International Day of Peace; (2): United Nations: Together