A couple days ago I reached my one and a half year mark in Moldova. As with the first half of my time here, the time has passed quickly and I can’t believe the next of these recaps will be my last. It feels like my time here is started to wind down, which is certainly bittersweet. As excited as I am to eat my favorite American foods and see my favorite people back home, it will be incredibly hard and sad to leave behind everything here. In the meantime, I am enjoying every minute and soaking in this incredible experience. Here’s a recap of my third quarter in Moldova (you can find a recap of the first six months here, and a recap of the second six months here).
Month 13: June.
The month kicked off with a celebration in the village park for Children’s Day with song, dance, and games. With the school year finished, I joined my fellow teachers on an excursion to the northern part of the country to visit Saharna and Țîpova Monasteries. Most of the month was spent at home spending time with my host mom and visiting host niece, Valerica. We picked strawberries, cherries, and raspberries. Our courtyard was filled with the sound of little ducklings. After months of torture from our rooster, he met his end and we ate him.
Month 14: July.
Our village welcomed a group of fellow Peace Corps Volunteers as they did a walking tour of the southeast of Moldova, visiting libraries, schools, and mayor’s offices to spread peace and friendship. I spent a wonderful night celebrating with my former 9th graders, their parents, and my fellow teachers in honor of the 9th grade graduation. There was a graduation ceremony, followed by plenty of food and dancing. My host nieces spent much of the month with us and we played plenty and had a lot of fun. I attended the opening of a monument in my village honoring those that were deported from the village during Soviet times. My parents came to Moldova and we spent an amazing two weeks exploring Moldova and Romania. We explored my village, Soroca, Orhei Vechi, Tipova Monastery, Purcari Winery, Comrat, Cricova Winery, and Chisinau. In Romania, we visited Sinaia, Bran Castle, Brasov, Rupea Fortress, Sighisoara, Maramures County with its wooden churches, and Breb. Valerica (my host-niece) spent a fun afternoon dressing up in my clothes, earrings, and sunglasses and pretending to be a model.
Month 15: August.
I made my host nieces American-style pancakes (with real maple syrup!) and scrambled eggs. The library grant project I worked with my school on was underway and I took several trips to our raion center and Chisinau to procure furniture, technology, and new books. Heather, my sister, came to Moldova and we spent a weekend in the capital before heading to my village for a week. Together, we went to my village’s celebration of Language Day and Moldova’s Independence Day, where we ate and enjoyed the performances by my students and various competitions (and tried not to be too nervous during the pole-climbing competition). I visited Et Cetera Winery with my sister and a volunteer friend, and on our way, we walked through the fields at the margin of my village with my host mom, host sister, and host niece, enjoying the beauty of a summer evening in Moldova. I got a site mate (another volunteer living in the same village) and I spent some time working on projects with him at school.
Month 16: September.
We celebrated the first day of school with the traditional First Bell ceremony. I said goodbye to my sister and got back into the swing of the school year. We celebrated International Day of Peace at school by making a huge peace sign in the school courtyard and students shared what peace means to them. I enjoyed the beautiful autumn sunsets over the village. The corn and grape harvest began, and I baked banana bread and chocolate chip cookies. At school, we completed our pre-tests for the year and the schedule changed many times.
Month 17: October.
Autumn continued in my village, and along with came more pretty sunsets and making wine. One day, my host mom called me and told me to come to the garden in the valley to pick strawberries. Although a little confused, I joined her, and to my surprise there were autumn strawberries! At school, we celebrated Teacher’s Day and I joined the other teachers at a faculty party, where we ate yummy food and danced for hours. I finally mastered several different versions of Moldova’s traditional dance, the hora. We completed installing our library project and had an opening ceremony and celebration. Our English Club (with students from 7th through 9th grade) started up again. At the end of the month, our village received visitors from Peace Corps Headquarters in Washington, D.C. and after touring our school, we joined them and a group of other volunteers in our raion center for lunch.
Month 18: November.
I spent our autumn vacation in Chisinau, attending a conference and catching up with friends. Our English Club continued. My village celebrated Hram (Village Day) and I attended the concert held at our Casa de Cultura (Cultural House). I made cinnamon and dinner rolls for Thanksgiving and spent a weekend in Chisinau with other volunteers for Thanksgiving. I attended the school’s celebrations for Youth Day, with skits, songs, and dance.
It’s been a pretty good and fairly busy past 6 months! Here’s to the last part of this journey and my remaining time in Moldova!