Monday, September 19, 2011

Conversations in Romanian

One thing that is very different in Moldova is the conversations. The topics, the tone of voice, the body language. You name it, its different. Its one thing to converse with another culture when you understand all that is being said. It is something completely different when you dont understand everything and cant express all that you would like to say.

Right now, my language isn’t great, so Ive definitely had my fair share of slip ups.

For example, after my swearing in ceremony, I left all my fellow Peace Corps volunteers, loaded my life into a car, and had to say goodbye to the volunteers whom I had spent just about every hour with for the past 10 weeks. Being who I am, I cried, of course. And this was infront of my school director and village mayor- but Im only human! Anyways, my mayor and school director drove me back to my village and during the hour and a half drive, we chatted as much as was possible. My mayor asked me if I was sad to be coming to Tintareni. “No,” I told him, “I’m just sad to leave all my friends, but I will have many more friends in Tintareni!” He laughed a little and said “Many friends?!” “Yes,” I said, “I will have many friends in Tintareni!” He laughed harder now and my school director said to him “she doesn’t understand.”

It was only later, that I realized what I had said to him. I had told him that I will have many boyfriends in Tintareni. All I could think was “wonderful… now my town mayor probably thinks Im a hooker.” Hes a bit of a comedian, though, so all is good!

I’ve also been known to mix up bolnav (sick), murat (pickled), and murder (dirty).

My host sister asked if I was hungry and I wanted to tell her that I felt sick. So I said, “ma simt murat.” Which means “I feel pickled.” Yes, I felt pickled… She didn’t understand, but she got the idea and didn’t try to offer me food anymore.

I told my host family that I ate my other host family. They got a good laugh out of that and I guess I did too.

So, just about every time I talk to someone, for the first time or second time or even third, the conversation goes exactly the same:

Moldovan: How do you find Moldova?

Me: I like it very much. It is beautiful, my host family is great, the people are great, the food is delicious.

Moldovan: Do you miss your home and your family?

Me: Of course, very much. But I want to be in Moldova, if I wanted to go home, I would go home.

Moldovan: You should find a boy and stay here:

Me: (laughter) Maybe, but my mom wouldn’t be very happy. She wants me home.

Moldovan: Well she can come visit Moldova

Me: If it is life, it is life (this is the best I can do… it both satisfies them and ends the questioning about me finding a Moldovan husband. Usually at this point, we both have somewhere to go so we say our goodbyes)

After this, if the conversation is not over, it turns to family, food, money, or a persons weight. It is hard sometimes to be a part of these conversations because American culture is so different. Moldovans very openly discuss income, the hardships they have, and how much a person weighs. This is one thing I am learning to adjust to, or trying to adjust to at the very least.

Anyways, that is how about 75% of my conversations go… when I’m lucky! Last week I had a slightly more interesting conversation. I came home from work and both my town mayor and the mayor/governor of my raion were at my house (A raion in Moldova is the equivalent of a state in the US). What an interesting conversation we had.

At first we chatted about what Im doing, same old thing, how I like Moldova, etc etc. Then he went on to tell me that he knew other Peace Corps volunteers and my host mom said that one of the volunteers works in his office. I was excited because I finally understood at this point who this man was, where he worked, and that he knew one of my fellow volunteers. I said “oh! You work with Thomas!” His face change and he responded seriously “no, Thomas works with me.” I apologized but, “Crap! Ive offended the most important person Ive met in Moldova” is the only thing that was running through my head. Luckily for me, the storm cloud passed and he changed the subject.

After this, we talked about my family and where we would visit when they came over and other random things. As him and my village mayor where about to leave, my village mayor commented “isn’t it funny that Cristen is in Tintareni and she is so thin yet working with a bunch of fat people.”

Yes, my mayor said this. All you can do in this situation is smile and nod…. and smile and nod is what I did. It hasn’t failed me yet J

Thursday, September 8, 2011

A Thursday in the Life of ME!

What a long and interesting day today was…

It began like everyday does. Around 5am I first hear the rooster crowing. Then 30minutes later, give or take a few, the cow starts mooing. It’s a little after 6 now and my host dad is up and working, so the dog is now barking as well. I definitely don’t need an alarm clock here J

By 6:30 it was time for me to get up, get dressed, have breakfast (toast and milk fresh from the cow-don’t tell Peace Corps… Im not supposed to drink it!), straighten my room, and head off to school. The school is just about a 2 minute walk from my house so that part is the least of my worries.

Thus begins my day:

7:30-8:15 class with grade 9a

8:15-10 Plan next week’s lectures… well we only accomplished 1/8.

10-10:45 Head home and relax/ play some solitaire/ pick up materials that I forgot this morning in my 7am stupor.

10:55-11:40 Class with grade 9b

11:45-12:30 Club with grades 7 and 8

12:30-12:50 Head home (against my will) for lunch in the short 20 minute break I have. Also, while walking down the hall, receive 2 hugs from students and an apple (I think that officially makes me a teacher).

12:50-1:35 Class with grade 6. One of my students praised me afterwards, telling me that he is so happy I am here from America and he can not wait to learn about health.

1:35-4 Proceed home for my second lunch of the day. I said that I wasn’t hungry because I already at lunch an hour ago. I was told that it is better to have to meals than to spankings. I cant disagree with that…

4:10-4:55 Class with grade 5. One of my students wrote a poem about me. Ill have to get a hold of that and share J

5-5:45 Class with grade 8 (aka obraznic- cheeky). This one started out well. My partner began talking and the kids were listening, shuffling some, but attentive for the most part. Then it was my turn to talk. I simply was inviting them to join the club and then introducing myself. I got one sentence out before they burst out laughing. Yes, laughing at me. I must say, that is the first time I have ever flat out been laughed at. I guess there is a first time for everything. Yes, it hurt my feelings a little bit. But lets be serious, my language is the best it can be after 3 months or learning, so I cant blame them too much. It paid off because while they laughed for a few minutes, my partner went and got the principal. While the principal scolded them, my partner and I ate watermelon in the teacher’s lounge. The rest of class was smooth, minus a few who had to suddenly get up and leave because they were trying so hard not to laugh. You cant take life too seriously and the best I can do is laugh it off as well!

It is now 6:45 and Im done for the day! Ill probably waste some time on the internet and read a mindless book before I take the time to prepare for tomorrow. I don’t have lessons tomorrow, but I do have a lot of planning to do.

Part of my job is also to work at the medical center, tomorrow Im going to stop by… lets hope that it is more successful than my 8th grade lesson J

Just another day in my life in Moldova, always interesting, always full of surprises, always has ups and always has downs. Aside from the few minor set backs today, Ill go to bed happy because I have a great host family, great partners, a bunch of students and professors who cannot wait to learn from me, and a lot of people in the US and Moldova who I love and love me J

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Back To School!

The school year has officially started. Last Thursday was the beautiful first bell ceremony. It is a ceremony celebrating the first ever bell for the 1st graders and the last ever first bell for the 12th graders. A bunch of prestigious people spoke, the mayor, principal, priest, a doctor from the government (I’m not so sure about who he was…), and last but not least, me! Okay, maybe I’m not prestigious, but it felt pretty special giving a speech to the entire school and about half of my village. Yes, that’s right; I gave a speech in Romanian! It went surprisingly well J

So on the first day, all the kids bring flowers. They are flowers for their favorite teacher, the principal, anyone they want. After each of the speeches, a few kids brought up flowers. I even got a few! Every time they give flowers they kiss you on the cheek. I’m still getting the hang of it… sometimes they kiss both cheeks and sometimes they only kiss one. I may or may not have embarrassed myself by going for the second kiss while they start walking away. Haha! Oh well!! Then after all was finished, the rest of the kids give out their flowers. I got a bunch!! Here is a picture of me with my two partner teachers and all my beautiful flowers!

There has been a lot of work to do. Writing long term plans and planning lectures. I have 8 classes total. I will have 4 classes tomorrow (Wednesday) and 4 classes Thursday. I’m a little nervous for the first day but I can’t wait to meet all my students!

Today I was at school to work on a few things with one of my partners. On my way out, I ran into another professor whom I’ve seen a few times. I saw her last week at the medical center and she always has a huge smile on her face. Anyways, she asked me why I wasn’t at school yesterday and said I should come even when I don’t have lessons. It’s the little things that make the days so wonderful J

I also made a pretty big leap in my work that I’ll be doing at the school. I was talking to my partner about attending other classes in the school because I am very interested to see how they teach, methods, discipline, etc. She told me I could and said that teachers are interested in learning about methods used in the United States. Of course, since that is part of my job, I was overjoyed to hear this. There is a meeting that is held every month for all the teachers. (I’m not quite sure yet what goes on during these meetings but I guess I’ll find out.) So I asked if I could teach a different method each month. It was approved by the director and I now will be teaching all the teachers each month! I know it isn’t THAT exciting, but I think I will be able to make a big difference.

I plan to dedicate my next blog to food here. But it is tasty and all homemade. Stand by for recipes!

I know I neglect this blog…but I’ll try to get better about it!

Miss you all, lots of love!