30 July 2010

The love of a parent

Yesterday my partner teacher received a phone call from her 20 year old daughter who was heading home after spending a week in Bulgaria. This lead to me asking more questions about her children because I realized I had been so caught up in work that I knew nothing about her. After asking a little about her daughter, I moved on to her 23 year old son. Because we are the same age, I was curious what he was up to; assuming he had recently finished at the University and was now either working or studying for a higher education. As I asked these questions she kept shaking her head, "no". She then told me he was at home and working as a taxi driver. He had tried to go to University but never made it through a semester for a variety of reasons: his parents were in Russia so he was needed at home to watch after his younger sister so they wouldn't need to hire someone, and he wasn't interested in paying the University. You see, I feel like he has a valid point. In college we are required to take many classes that we are not interested in, which also means we must pay for them. Instead of doing this at a time when money and jobs are scarce, he said he would rather study by himself those things of which are interesting to him. So, he began to study to be a taxi driver because he knew he could get a job and make money. While I think this is good thinking on his part, his mother began to cry. She said she knows he is smart and he knows he has potential, bug she feels that without a college degree he will not be able to do anything in his life. Funny enough, I have heard this many times in the USA. While I am not a mother, I felt the pain of this mother and I can now understand more clearly why my dad had such a hard time when I told him I wanted to drop out of college my sophomore year. Parents want the best for their children. They want their children to live a better life than they ever did. This becomes especially true in a developing country. Everyone here knows what it means to make sacrifices. Everyone here knows what itmeans to struggle. Parents don't want their children to struggle, or have to worry about their future.
It was really hard to hear her explain something she wants for her child that she feels he will never have. It's hard for me to sit back and watch all of these students (and people) with great potential, but as soon as they are done with school, they give up because they think there is no way they can et a job in America, or England, or somewhere else. But the problem isn't that they can't- it's that they don't know how. I don't want to sit back anymore. I want to do something about it. It's not that I want to encourage Moldovans to move out of Moldova and leave their families, traditions, and culture behind. Because I don't what that. I feel that by getting this generation out, they will be able to bring what they learned elsewhere back to Moldova to help. I know this is why the Peace Corps is here- to teach them within their own country. But when it comes down to it, there are only so many of us. We can do what we can- and we have done great things already, don't get me wrong. But more needs to be done. Now is the time to start.

What would you do to help? What would you suggest to do? What is your dream for your children?

Life doesn't stop

This was the first thing that came to my mind when I woke up in the morning:

When I sleep, sometimes I feel like life just stops for those 6, 7, 8, 9 hours. Really, though, it doesn't. People all around the world (and even in Moldova) are awake and still moving.

That's something that a few PCV's have said that have been here for 2 years. When they went home to visit family for their 1 month break (because they extended), they were talking to everyone about things that happened 2 years ago as if they had happened 2 days ago. I feel like sometimes we forget life keeps going at home- people are living their own lives, doing their own things, and we are doing ours. It's not that we're narcissistic (at least I hope not?), it's just that we forget. That's normal, right?

(Now I really need to go and finish up the lesson plans I wasn't able to get done last night...)


29 July 2010

So much to say- and no time.

I really have no time to write anything at this moment because I wanted to be a "big girl" and write the lessons for tomorrow all by myself. Why? I'm not so sure, because now I have a ridiculous amount of work ahead of me. But, that's ok. It will all be fine, especially after a day like this.

So, I must go, but I will have an update- hopefully tomorrow morning.


28 July 2010

Our newest PCV

This kiddo loves the camera. He joined us a couple of weeks ago as we were outside during one of our breaks between classes. He was wearing tights and flipflops with flowers on them. But boy does this kid have an arm when it comes to throwing a football! Scholarship, anyone? I promise you won't be disappointed!
He joined us again the other day and hammed up the camera. He made it so easy to take his picture, but let's face it. How could he make it difficult? He's adorable.

Day 3: Success!

Day 3 of practice school:

I finally feel like I get it! Both of my 45 minute lessons went pretty smooth. I totally forgot to go over the assigned homework the first time, so luckily I had 1 more class period to remember ;) I was observed by another EE for the first period, and I think that make me nervous at first. Plus, I have come to realize that I don't like to be rushed for anything. At 6 am I wake up because I like to relax, maybe get some work done, and plug in my water heater (but that's just a convenience). When I have 20 minutes to go to another building and wait for the computer and the printer, review my lessons to make sure I know what I'm teaching (which today I still had no idea), write things on the board to prepare for the lesson, and talk to my observer about my first 2 days, I just lose it and I get all worked up. I think that is what happened with the first lesson today and that is why it didn't go as smooth as the second, but it's ok because the kids were participating! They were volunteering answers! They were raising their hands! And they were actually understanding me.
Then I got to the second lesson- and it went even 10 times smoother. Everything finished up just on time, the kids totally got what I was saying, and if they were confused, I was able to read that and quickly think of another way to explain something and then I could actually see the transition of them understanding it. For homework last night, I had assigned them to draw their family tree (since that was the topic of the lesson). Because I know how I do homework, I was expecting something to be scribbled on a piece of scratch paper right before class started, or even during beak. But, no! There were a few students who had obviously put a lot of thought into what they were doing and they added colors and everything. That was great, and is making me think that maybe I should start putting more effort into my homework....

On a sidenote, if you have been reading my facebook, you may have seen that a lot of us have been quite ill lately! While we haven't narrowed down exactly what caused it, we are sure it had something to do with what we ate at the picnic on Sunday. I would say at least half, if not more of us, that were there have now come down with incredibly bad intestinal issues. While I could go into detail here, I won't. What I will say, though, is it is NOT fun and thankfully I'm not one of the worst cases and I'm feeling much better today. In fact, I haven't had to run to the bathroom once- which is a huge improvement over the last couple of days. However, some people are still battling with issues that began on Sunday, and some started as last as last night. Whatever it was, it got us all good. The Moldovans seem to blame the watermelon, saying it is not in season until the end of August, so what is on the market now is too large and it has been injected with some sort of hormone to make it ready early, and that is what is making us sick (we had watermelon). However, some people didn't eat the watermelon and they're sick, too. Knowing what I went through the last couple of days, I hope those that are still battling with it get better soon!!!

Film on Moldova

To watch a film on Moldova, go here. It's really intense, and it also gives you a glimpse into my life here. I got it from this guy who is traveling throughout Europe this summer for a project dealing with KU (Rock Chalk!)

27 July 2010

Some photos while you wait...

First 2 days of teaching: check!

27 July

Day 1 of teaching:
I thought day 1 went pretty well. It was a lot easier than I was expecting, but there was one part that will prove to be difficult throughout the entire practice school: multi level classrooms. Out of 15 students, 1 is really strong, and 2 are pretty strong. You see, we received textbooks for a 5th grade class who has supposedly been learning English since they were in 2nd grade. However, in Moldova, students either begin English in 2nd grade or 10th grade. In Razeni, I am getting the feeling that the majority of the students learn another language before they learn English, so these kids are completely lost. The three students who have studied it in the past speak are overpowering the class and I feel like the other ones are getting so far behind. While I was nervous as I’ll get out, I will say that the day, in general, went well. My resource teacher told me I was born to be a teacher because I am really patient with the students, although I have to begin to teach the students so they will learn instead of teaching them strictly for the sake of teaching. So day 2 was supposed to be better, right?

Day 2 of teaching:
Fail. Really. I feel like everything I’d practiced wasn’t important. My resource teacher taught the first lesson about families. She did the vocabulary, pronunciation, and text portion, and so all I had to do was teach the grammar of the very “to have”. Here’s the problem, though. Yes, I am a native English speaker. However, I cannot for the life of me tell you why the grammar is a certain way, or how the verb chart is without looking at it. Obviously this is something I will learn before I teach the students, but thankfully I will have a partner teacher to help me along the way AS I’m teaching… because right now they are just supposed to sit back and observe.
So first, I reviewed the vocabulary they’d learned in the first part of the day from my partner teacher. Things were going well. Then I began the grammar. I thought things were going well here, too. Until I asked them if they understood. Only 1 person raised her hand. There were 10 minutes left in class, I’d been teaching this for about 30 minutes, and they had no idea. So I had to call in my lifeline and have my resource teacher finish up the class teaching the students. Honestly, I felt like I totally failed and now the students won’t come to class because they aren’t going to learn. I hope this isn’t the case, but that’s how I feel right now.

What did I learn from today?
Grammar needs to be taught in the native tongue for clarity.
In British English, “To have” is actually translated “To have got”

**My dad always knows what to say to me... this was the email I received after he read this post:
Teaching can be very frustrating as you will have the very strong students and the weak. It is tough to keep the strong challenged without leaving the weak behind. I do think you have a gift for teaching and working with the young. Always remember, if it were easy, anyone could do it.

Much love,


26 July 2010

This is what EE's do in Moldova (when we're not making videos)

Shout out to all teachers!

I'm going to start with this: Teachers need more credit than they're given for how much work they do!

I'm going to continue with this: Teaching is hard. That is not to say I never thought teachers worked hard, because of course I knew that. I just didn't know how much work it is to be a teacher!

Today is the first day of practice school. All last week we have been preparing for this, learning more Romanian, and taking the language exam. Friday we met our Resource Teachers (the teachers that have worked with Peace Corps before so they know how to help us so that we can teach our new partner teachers how things are supposed to be done in 2 weeks). On Saturday I worked with my teacher from 1-5 writing the long-term plan which is really only for the first 2 weeks and only covering 1 lesson. We didn't even get that done, nor did we begin planning the lessons for today (we are giving 2). So we had to meet again yesterday morning for 2 hours in order to at least plan the lessons for today. We worked from 8-10 and then I still had work to do. Because I was so mentally fried, I fell asleep at 8pm and had to wake up this morning to get my materials done (which was fine after a much needed 10 hours of sleep). So, now the materials are done and I'm ready to get this day started. Although a massage would be great after this weekend.

Saturday Ross came to Razeni (with flowers!). He got here early so he went to the magazin while I finished up my day of working with my RT (resource teacher). While there, he met some of the locals and had a discussion with them. He said he was waiting for his girlfriend to get out of class, and one man told him he does not have a girlfriend and he should date his 18 year old daughter. This same guy later told me I should leave Ross and go back to his house to meet his son (whose age he wasn't going to tell me until I got there) and also eat dinner and drink wine with them (we had said my family was waiting for us at home, which they were). That was our cue to leave. While very friendly, they were also being pushy and it was no longer funny because we realized they were serious.

So, after that delightful discussion, we came home and almost immediately had to leave because we were going to meet up with fellow EE's to go to see the best view of Razeni (photos will come later). We walked for about an hour and finally arrived. Literally breathtaking! The sun was setting and we could see the whole village! It was a full moon, so even after the sun set, we had no problems in the dark.

Sunday morning I woke up and worked with my RT and then joined everyone once again for a trip to Ialoveni and the infamous forest party. Food was provided (eventually) and we were all supposed to bring house wine. It was a lot of fun with some surprising moments, some drama, and incredible food. We had fresh watermelon (best I've ever had!), Moldovan salads, and beef kabobs. It was totally worth the 50 lei (I will admit- I was complaining at first. That was before the food actually arrived, though!). Thunder and dark clouds started rolling in and we were afraid it was going to rain but thankfully it never did. Christine took control of my camera- here are some of her shots! (I finally figured out how to get the photos to do what I want them to do- it's about time!

Now it's time to shower and eat before the day really gets started. Wish me luck on my first day as a teacher!

23 July 2010


Nadea is moving home for good! I'm so excited!!!!!

Just in time

Boy am I glad I live close to the school! I made it home just in time for it to start pouring. While sitting in our TECH session and discussing what our next 3 weeks are going to look like with practice school, it started thundering. When I say thundering, I don't mean a couple rumbles here and there. I mean huge booms that we could hear above everyone talking in one small room and above the fans blowing.

Now I'm home and I have a lot of planning and research to do, so I have to keep this short.

But I will say this: I am going to be very thankful to have practice school before I am actually thrown into a classroom. There is a lot of learning still left to be done before that can start.

On a side note: Cali's paw is cut open :(

Barking dogs vs squealing pigs

I thought it was bad when the dogs barked all night long. Now my neighbors bought a pig. It squeals all day long.

Oh boy.

Care packages have arrived!

I received 2 boxes of care packages from Aunt Moe and Aunt Cathy! It's so fun! I got school supplies, socks, conditioner, games, books, clothes, coffee, and great gifts for my host family! It's my MG's birthday on Tuesday so everything came just in time! Thank you so much!

My dad wanted me to mention on my blog that after I go to my permanent site (August 18th) I will not have my packages delivered to me... I will have to go to Chisinau (4 hours away) and bring them back on public transportation (which is usually crowded). So, if you plan on sending something, it would be best if it could arrive before I leave Razeni because we will have private transportation to our new site for all of our stuff (and us, de sigeur). Just a side note.


Final language exam: CHECK!

This morning I took the final language exam (er... interview). It went incredibly well until it got to the random scenario part of the exam. The tester pulled a card with a scenario written in English, then I had to respond in Romanian. The question I got was basically, "You are going to buy a new apartment. Ask questions." Because I have never had to do this myself in real life, it was difficult for me to come up with what kinds of questions to ask. All I could think of was, "Do you have 2 apartments I can look at? I'd like something modern that allows pets." And then I said I've never done this in America, so I really don't know what to ask (which may or may not have been a good idea to say. I'm not sure). Besides that, I feel really confident with the exam. We'll see what "level" I get put in within a week-ish....

But, hey, it's done! And now it's practice school. Yay!

22 July 2010

Country Director

We finally got to meet our Country Director, Jeffrey, today. He has been in Austria since before we arrived because his wife was having a baby so he got to take "Paternity Leave" (if only everyone in the USA supported this idea!!).

I was really nervous about meeting him just because he's, well, the TOP DAWG of the Peace Corps Moldova program. But me, being my usual talkative social butterfly, decided to go introduce myself- which I'm very glad I did.

He was really a breath of fresh air. While I am in no way what-so-ever struggling with anything here in Moldova (besides with these flea bites on my arms... but I can't help it! The dogs at school are so friendly!)... it was nice to hear what he said. His words just made me even more pumped to be a Peace Corps Volunteer and he also made me never want to leave the program. Jeffrey reiterated how important it is to voice any and all thoughts/concerns while in service so something can be done about it, and also how important we are to Moldova. We are here to help the people that live here. We are here to help them use what they have to make their lives easier/more efficient/better. We are here to make a difference. We are also here because we want to be here. The best way to be successful is to believe you can be successful. I know this is something I'm going to have to remind myself (hopefully less and less along the way!) because I feel like I sometimes get in a rut where I am only thinking negative thoughts. Well, when I'm only thinking negative thoughts, there is no good that can come out of that, so they need to be turned positive. I need to believe in myself and my projects to push things further.

Jeffrey also made me very excited to see what all I will be able to accomplish in my two (maybe more?) years here. I want to be able to look back and say, "wow, I really did that!". I do know that it also is not about the quantity of what I do, but the quality to which I do it. I always hear stories about these "Super Volunteers" that leave big shoes behind to fill when they COS (close of service). I want to be that person. I'm excited to be that person. I believe I can be that person.

... I'll keep you updated!

Time to go speak in Romanian now. We have our LPI (Language Placement-or progression- Interview). No big deal.


21 July 2010

6 weeks

Ok, final side note-

Tomorrow marks the 6 weeks mark of officially being in Moldova.

Holy. Cow. Where has the time gone?

Oh, yes. It's been occupied with learning Romanian, learning how to teach ESL, becoming a new member of a Moldovan family, talking on skype (catetakespictures) with friends and family back home as much as possible, taking photographs, meeting new people, and taking some short little trips.

Also- thinking about the future, which we all know is always a bad idea because you never know what is going to happen next, so why am I thinking 2 years in advance? well, I'm not sure. But maybe it's because I want to have something to work towards instead of just looking at completing my service here. I'm not sure. But, pretending like it is a good idea, if all goes well these next 25.5 months, maybe I'll be here longer. Or extend to another country for 1 or 2 years. Or go back to the States and work for Peace Corps. Or go to grad school. Who knows- and that's the glory of it!


MG quote of the day

This morning I was eating my usual breakfast of 2 fried eggs, 1 chicken sausage, and 2 slices of homemade bread with homemade jam when Mutsu (our personal doorbell) started barking. I began to shake my head saying, "Mutsu, Mutsu, Mutsu" and then my MG went outside and said to him, "Bravo, Mutsu! Tu lucrezi toata noaptea" which means, "Good job, Mutsu! You work all night". If that still doesn't mean anything to you, here is another translation: Good dog for waking Cate up throughout the night by barking at absolutely nothing. I know this because there is no one outside of their homes after dark."

Then when I got home from class today he was off of his 5' chain and running around the "yard". He must have done something really good to deserve this. Maybe it was barking. Got me!

On a side note- I have these red bumps on my arm and I'm not sure what they are. I looked up on the internet for images of flea bites thinking that's what they are- even though they don't itch unless I think about them, but they're not going away or getting smaller- and I realize this was a mistake because now it's time for bed and I have these vivid images of flea bites and fleas biting skin and now I can't go to sleep. Way to have a run-on sentence (I'll make a great English teacher), but I had to get the point across. I have concluded I don't think that's what they are, but I've also concluded I need another shower to get the "bugs" (aka imaginary bugs) off of my body. Wahoo.

On another side note- Cali has a loverdog. His name is Oscar. He's really cute and they're going to make beautiful puppies (that we won't be able to see because we'll be in our own villages by the time they are born) but they really need to stop giving us a show! We've had enough already. Maybe I should do some community development (COD) and build them their own private doghouse. Then they can really get a room!

Last side note before bed- Last night and tonight I had an incredible duck noodle soup. 100% from scratch. 100% from my FG's garden/house. It. Was. Awesome!!!!!

Bed time.

20 July 2010

Language dreamin'

Last night I had a dream in Romanian! I was translating things for people! WOW! That's super cool!

19 July 2010

You know you're finally learning the language when...

You know you're finally learning the language when...

You tell the cat to leave the kitchen (without approaching it) and it promptly does so.

Milesti Mici

I went to Milesti Mici this weekend to visit Ross (although what I really wanted to do was see the sunflowers. Just kidding. It was a combination of the two!)

After finding our own form of transportation in 5 minutes, then 10 minutes, then 40 minutes, my friends and I finally arrived in MM after a very hot and sweaty journey (thank goodness for that Patagonia dress I was wearing!).

The girls went to see some of our other friends who live in MM while Ross and I walked to the sunflower and peach fields with a couple of the guys. Nkosi is just as obsessed with sunflowers as I am so he continued the walk through the entire field with us.

I really find it fascinating out different the sunflowers here are compared to the sunflowers in Italy. In Italy, one could actually walk through the fields (like you could through a corn field). Here, the sunflowers are so dense that it becomes nearly impossible (plus there are bees EVERYWHERE!). While it is difficult to walk through them, it sure is beautiful to observe from the outside!

After a long day (and long nap!) we met up with more friends and the local magazin. The last time I was at a magazine I could hardly say "Ma cheama Cate", and this time I was able to hold full conversations with people. Sure, I made a lot of mistakes, but hey! I have only been here 5 weeks... it was a great night with a surprise walk to the soccer field where we could look up and gaze and the millions of stars in the sky. I felt like I was in a movie because the stars were so clear. Ross had no idea about my love for stars which makes it that much more exciting.

The night concluded with attempting to sleep while sweating bullets. Remember: no air conditioning here. I think I need to buy a fan pretty soon or else I'm going to be cranky! Before arriving in Moldova, everyone told us we would be hot all day and then also all night. Because the weather was so agreeable up until this point, I thought they were making things up or from extremely cold climates. Because, up until now, the weather has been fantastic! I could sleep with my window closed (to muffle the barking dogs) and be completely content. However, things have quickly changed and sleeping is becoming difficult once again.

(Here I was trying to show up some 14 and 15 year old boys. They did a bazillion pull ups and I did... 1/2. I rock. They won.)

After a slow start to the morning, we went to Chisinau where we cooked lemon bars with one of my friends who lives there. Before she arrived here, she had 11- yes 11! boxes sent full of books and cooking utensils because she loves to cook so much... and cook she does! The lemon bars were incredible- and so much more work than I expected! Whipping that cream of tartar+eggs+whatever else was put in it was very tiring. If I made that recipe every day I would have fantastic arms. However, I will not be making the bars every day because, well, it's just not necessary.

What did I learn over the weekend?
Peaches are actually really good- especially straight off of the tree
You really don't cool off at any point of the day in Moldova when it's hot
Baking can be very hard work (but comes with great results!)
Not all sunflower fields are the same
and most importantly... how to catch the bus from Chisinau back to Razeni.

16 July 2010

Little things

Like I said in the previous post, time really is passing too quickly here. I can't believe how much the seasons are changing within the seasons. The cherries are gone, the sunflowers have bloomed, and the apples are almost ready to eat! The garden is more green than when I arrived, the grapes vines are covering the walkway, and the baby ducks are getting so big. We have more eggs than I think we'll ever get through sitting in the fridge and the freezer is packed with fresh fruit for winter. I'm going to start this photo post with a shot of the beautiful flowers that are now finishing their season, followed by the photos of what we now have- the little things in life that make me happy. Noroc!

Yes. That goat IS on top of the rocks.

See that pepper on the right? Well, the piece of it? It's not a sweet pepper. It's hot. Super hot.

Frozen food to prepare for winter.

Our kitchen.

Check out all of these chickens! Where did they come from? Which was first? The chicken or the egg?

Fifi followed me on my journey of noticing the "little things" in my life.

Footprints representing hard work.

Fifi acts like he loves me, but then scratches my hand when I try to pet him. So nice.

Our garden

FIFI vs Chickens. Who wins?

This is the fella that wakes me up in the morning. Him and the rooster. I can't wait till Christmas!

Isn't she awesome? Yes, yes she is.

I know this seems to be common sense, especially when you remember where I am, but I'm going to point it out anyway because my dad and I had a nice conversation about it today. It's amazing how much you realize you can live without when you're in another country. For instance: hot water. Is it necessary to have hot water EVERY time you turn on the faucet? Absolutely not. It's just nice. Toilets with plumbing: I actually am beginning to enjoy not having to flush a toilet, I'm getting great leg muscles, and I'm also learning quickly the rules of the outhouse (aka if you don't want flies, go at night). Also, America (in general) is so focused on MORE MORE MORE! and are most American's really happy? Now, I'm no economist, but I would venture to guess material items are not buying happiness. Now look at Moldova. Sure, there are quite a few people that are unhappy. I like to blame it on the lack of the smile effect because as soon as I smile at someone on the street (no matter how angry they may look) their faces just light up and they have the most beautiful smiles (grills and all). Ok, that's probably not the real cause of the unhappiness in Moldova- the lack of jobs is. But putting that aside, Moldovans are really happy people and a lot have very little! In fact, my MG and SG were discussing today how my MG needs more (new) clothes. Obviously SG was on the "new" side and MG was on the "old". I'm not sure who won, but I do know MG was totally content with the clothes she has- which she's had forever. Does she care that she's had them forever? Absolutely not. But SG does, which I think is because of the generation she has been brought up in. I don't know, I could be completely wrong about this.