30 September 2010


I brought my markers to school today for one of my 10th form classes because we decided to do a rather simple assignment to get them talking. And, after their test results from last week (we were nice and gave 90% of the class a 4/10)... we decided to make things easier.

The new lesson was titled Family Ties. Everyone got 1/2 sheet of paper and had to draw their definition of family. Everyone participated in the drawing and everyone said something about their picture (even if it was just, "this is me, my father, my mother, and my brother"). I thought that was the last I was going to use the markers.

Until I met Cristina.

Cristina is a 2nd grader with a learning disability. I'm not sure what it is (I'm not a psychologist, although sometimes I wish I was). She's a beautiful girl who is eager to learn and eager to work with other students and have a social interaction, but most of her lessons are done at home with a private teacher, although lately she has been coming to school and doing her lessons in another room but going outside for breaks with the other kids. She's began by saying, "hello" to me every time she sees me. As we were talking today she got distracted and asked what was in my purse. I told her it was a surprise for her- and I pulled out my markers and some paper and I told her she could draw a picture if she wanted to. I made the mistake of saying "for you" because she was under the assumption the markers were a gift to her- and I was so sad when I had to tell her they were not a gift but she could use them if she wanted to. She was so sad and didn't quite get it- but I did let her pick one marker that she could keep as her own (but she had to learn how to say the color -red- first), and I promised her I would bring her back some markers when I go to America (but I think I'm going to have to check out Amazon and see if I can't get some Crayola's sent over here for her). Cristina is so eager to learn that it makes learning fun. Every time I say something in English she tries to mimic the sounds and it's such a cool feeling. She now knows hello, goodbye, thank you, I am good, and red.

Then later, at the end of the day, I brought out the markers and paper again because I ran in to her in the library. She started drawing, and I got bored so I started drawing, too. As I began drawing, the librarian and Cristina's teacher came over to me and were observing me (as usual, stating that I'm left-handed... which is a very common comment from Moldovan's). I drew a flower and then decided to make the picture for Cristina, so I drew a bee then wrote her name out in dashes (-------) as if it was made by the trail of the bee. Then I drew ants, a butterfly and the sun and wrote the names of them. They were very impressed that I was taking something fun and making it educational. Hopefully that will be continued...!

Best Idea Yet!

As if 3 English Clubs aren’t enough, I’ve started a 4th one. I mean, I can never be too busy…? (Haha. Yea, ok. Sure. Yesterday that was definitely not the case).

Anyways… I started another English Club. However, it’s not exactly an English Club because it won’t be quite as fun as the other English Clubs I have going. This one is for the big kids who got lost in English classes a long time ago, so now they are absolutely clueless. The best part, however, is that it is optional. Only the “big kids” that want to learn English are supposed to come. Because, let’s be honest here. Most of these kiddos are enrolled in English against their will- it’s required. They have no desire to learn to speak the language. Fine- no worries. I’m not going to make them learn it. After all, I did drop out of Spanish in 10th grade. But I was that student that “got lost to the point of no return”… or at least that’s what I thought. So I want to help those students that got lost a long time ago- but want to graduate knowing something in English so it can maybe (hopefully!) help them in the future.

When I told some of my classes about it they seemed excited. Unfortunately fewer students showed up than I thought, but oh well. There’s always next week.

I began with the verbs “to be” and “to have”. When I told my partner teachers about this they said the kids (8,9,10, 11, 12 grade) should already know this. Yes, yes they should. But the truth is some don’t. We started with that and I was SO excited with their progress! I can’t wait to see where this goes, and I hope next time more kiddos show up.


I was having a discussion with one of my partner teachers today as we were planning for some lessons. I have an idea I’d like to try out by maybe implementing a “test” American grading system… we give grades according to the American system that I know (tests/participation/homework/final exam/projects are all given certain percentages and it’s all recorded instead of just receiving 1 grade out of 10 for everything for the day… or potentially just the week), and we will also give grades according to the Moldovan system. We will record the Moldovan system grades but keep a separate notebook of this new way- just to see how things might be different. While it is all a bit confusing to her, she said she was willing to try. She was also willing to try a game of Jeopardy with the kids for a review session before the test about vocabulary. I told her that I love working with her because she is so willing to try everything- even if she doesn’t completely understand it and even if she doesn’t think it will work. She then said this:

“Everyone dies a little bit when they aren’t willing to change.”

… and she couldn’t be more right. I had to write it down immediately so I wouldn’t forget because it just made so much sense. She also said that although she has been teaching a long time and she has her way of doing things, she is excited to see how things are done from another point of view so that she can maybe use those ideas after I leave. Holy cow. I think I can go back to America now. I’ve completed the mission of being an English Teacher in Moldova.

Oh, wait. I still have to teach her how to do it. I guess I’ll stay a couple more years. ;) Plus, two can play this game.

... looks like we all have a lot to learn from each other!

Mickey Mouse

Last week I began hearing a “scratch scratch” under my bed at night. After hearing it one night, I decided to let it be. Plus, even though it woke me up, I was tired enough that I went right back to sleep. Then he came for a visit 2 more nights- and that’s when I decided to say something to my NMG. As soon as I began to describe the situation she asked if it was a È™oarece (mouse). Because I gave her my (rather common) look of, “What did you just say?!”, she said, “Mickey Mouse”. It’s actually become a fun game to try and communicate with each other when I don’t understand what is going on- because she remembers a lot of random words- and their definitions- in English (ie Mickey Mouse, and give me a kiss). I told her yes, I’m pretty sure it is Mickey Mouse under my bed. She said if I heard it again that night that she would let the cat sleep with me the next.

As if Mickey Mouse could tell time, he came back at 9:40 the next night- which was the same time he’d come back the previous nights. Lucky me- I got to sleep with a cat the next night!

While I’m unsure if the cat actually caught Mickey Mouse, I can guarantee that I had a very snuggly ball of fur next to me all night with a purr that was louder- and happier- than the purr of any cat I’ve ever heard before.

… and Mickey Mouse has yet to make another appearance (although I do think it was just a fluke that I didn’t hear him last night, but let’s hope the fur ball really did catch him while I was sleeping).

29 September 2010

Good point

(after, once again, voicing my frustration with the Moldovan grading system- this time because I just gave a test to the 10th form and only 4 students actually got B worth results... the rest failed worse than failing... but, hey, it doesn't matter because the tests aren't weighted any different than daily participation. So, I'm frustrated that these poor kids are having to read really difficult material.... and I can't get through to them...)

This is how my conversation went with one of my friends...

ME: ... I'm so frustrated because they aren't putting ANY effort into anything!

ANTOINE: that's the life of teacher: motivate students and make them understand of the interest to learn

ME: ..but how do you do that to a 17 year old who can't do the book work because they don't know the difference in "to be" and "to have"?

ANTOINE: ^^ your job is to find the answer!

Oh. My. Gosh. He's so right. I've been struggling all this time battling with the idea of the educational system... but why? The answer is in my students hands! I can't read their minds and find out why they're not willing to try... the educational system can't make them willing to try. I need to find out how I can motivate them to do well. Assigning good marks isn't going to do it because they aren't going to learn anything that way (unless they are actually doing the work). My new mission? Find out how I can really help them.

12 years

It's seriously been 12 years? I have no idea where the time has gone so quickly. It's so crazy that I have now spent more of my life without my Mom than with her. I remember this day (and the few days leading up to it) so vividly that I feel like I'm still 11 years old.

But you know what? As I was getting ready for school this morning a thought crossed my mind: Why is it that I seem to get really sad on the day marking her death? Why do I have to go out of my way to recognize the fact that she is gone every September 29th? I should celebrate the fact that my Mom is no longer suffering. I should think about her every day try to remember everything I can about her because that way the memories will stay alive.

It's still weird to think that I don't have a Mom around here anymore. In Moldova, people get so shocked when I say that my Mother has died- and that she died when I was little. I have met more people here that are in their 60's and 70's and still have BOTH parents living.

So, instead of writing a sad "pitty me" story, I'm instead going to tell you about funerals in Moldova- because they are so different from the funerals at home that it's quite fascinating.

Yesterday I informed my NMG that today was the anniversary of my mother's death, she asked me about funerals in America. She asked if we celebrate 4 days after their death? 9 days? 14 days? 1 year? The answer is, "no". But here? The answer is, "yes". When someone dies, their family creates sarmale (cabbage rolls) for more friends and family. Sometimes this can mean as many as 500 or more people. They then create different meals on the following days and serve it to everyone- where as in America (at least how I know it), people seem to give food to the family of the person who has died instead of the other way around. And, we only "celebrate" one, sometimes 2 days (if the wake/visitation/funeral are on different days). I should ask her more about it- like, if black is a traditional color, if people seem to be happier rather than sad, etc.

My mom was an incredible woman. She was beautiful, wonderful, smart, funny, and very friendly. While I never got to know her on an adult level, the stories that her friends tell me keeps her alive and sometimes I feel like we are going to call each other to go grab a weekly lunch. I remember her sewing room, frogs all over the place (she collected them), lots of green, her wish for my sister and me to get along (guess what Mom- it's finally come true!), her love of the pool and sun, her incredible halloween parties (and costumes!), and all of her many friends that loved her so much. When she would play the piano her nails would click on the keys, so to this day I still love that sound. She could play so many songs on the piano because she had the ability to play by ear (I somehow missed her musical talent).

If I click my heels 3 times will I wake up and this be a dream?

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26 September 2010


I uploaded a bunch of pictures to facebook. You should check them out.

Walk with the kiddos

I hope you had a great weekend :)

25 September 2010


... it's another beautiful day here in Moldova. I have decided that autumn is, by far, my favorite season. I really want to know why I've said summer was my favorite season for so long... because this sure beats it!

I do miss the beautiful colors in the leaves from here. Here they are either green or brown. Thankfully the red apples add some color to the bunch :)


I was on a skype date with Bee last night and I was thinking about all of the shows I need to watch this weekend while I have fast internet and it brought up an interesting conversation.

Me: There are SO MANY new tv shows out that I really want to watch! They look so good! And so much great music, too...
Bee: Like what?
Me: Oh, there were a few on ABC that I saw... and HBO...
Bee: I think you are feeling deprived. Most previews I've seen are for shows that have been around for a year or two.

I think she's right. :P

But thank goodness for iTunes to keep me caught up!

22 September 2010



Boy do I love this day! It’s in the middle of the week, it means 2 days until I get to see Ross, and it means it is day 3 of English Club (this time with the “middle” kiddos).
The middle kiddos are so fun to work with. They are full of energy, and they can’t wait to learn something new. I enjoy using simple vocabulary with them even though sometimes it is a review. But that’s not the best part.

The best part was when they all left and I said, out loud, without thinking, “I love my job”. The sun is shining, the temperature is perfect for a light long-sleeved shirt, and I had a smile across my face.

Even though I complain about the system of grades, and how much it frustrates me that the kiddos copy their homework from other sources (Internet, other textbooks, friends that are more proficient in English- it’s karma), I truly do love my job. Sure, it’s only been a few weeks but I really can’t imagine not being here in Moldova… with these kids… 5 days a week, 9 months a year.

21 September 2010

Peace, Love, and Passions

You can only become truly accomplished at something you love.

Don’t make money your goal.

Instead, pursue the things you love doing, and do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off you. Maya Angelou

This is quote I’ve been looking for for a long time- but never actually knew I was looking for it. It’s the reason I applied for the Peace Corps in the first place. One semester before graduating college I realized a high-paying job was not what was going to make me happy in life- following my passion is. Since I was 7 I’ve wanted to be a teacher and now I’m finally doing it... and loving it! (Most of the time)

Being the sole American in a town of 2,200 is definitely making it so “people can’t take their eyes off [me]”.

This morning as I was walking to school I could see a woman quite a ways in front of me walking toward me with a smile on her face. She approached me and just started having a conversation, as if we’d known each other forever. While I honestly can’t tell you her name or if we’ve met before, it was a great feeling. And when walking home from school today I said hello to a group of villagers sitting on a bench- which is usually occupied in the afternoon by these people. I smiled, said, “buna ziua”, and every single person smiled and said it back. At school I have teachers saying, “hello” and, “goodbye” to me. It’s almost as if being an American is contagious- and it’s so fun!

Also, after 3 weeks of trying to figure out one of my students in my 8th form class (the one I teach alone) and how she can learn English the best, today I FINALLY figured it out! We spent the whole class working on vocabulary. It was rather simple, and just a few words, but I wanted to make sure they learn it. We were very active- playing games, repeating, recalling, and… (drum roll please!!!) LEARNING. This one particular student was actually recalling vocabulary words and actions before my two “best” students. I was beyond thrilled and basically jumping out of my seat in excitement! This is another reason why I love my job!!

Good and Bad

It’s another absolutely perfect day in Moldova. The sun in shining, it’s about 68 degrees, and, once again, I am so happy and full of energy that it’s absolutely ridiculous. Although I was frustrated with my 8th form kiddos, I taught them YOU ROCK! Today because I was in a good mood, and, well, they deserved it.

But I have some good news and bad news.

Let’s start with the bad news.

I had to give low marks today to my 11th form students. Like I’ve said before (and I feel like I probably say too much!), but I am not particularily fond of the grading system in Moldova. I think if you do the work, you should be rewarded. If not, well, you should somehow be “punished” for it. (Punished is a rather harsh word for what I want to say, but I can’t think of another one at the moment.) Out of 15 students in the 11th form class, only about 5 on average do their homework. Quite frankly, I’m sick and tired of that. Every day we tell them to do their homework and they don’t. So, with it being the beginning of the school year (with plenty of time to make up the bad marks), I gave the students a 1 for the day. However, I told them that if they took and initiative to participate in class that day, I would give them a 5 (10 being the highest, and 5 being the lowest that is usually given from teachers in order for the students to look better). Ironically, the student I least expected to participate participated more than ever, so I gave him a 5. The one most likely to participate? Well, he just sat there. Probably mad because I said I would give him a bad mark. Well, his loss. He got a 2. I’m still the nice teacher- I hope- but I’m also not afraid to get things done.

Now the good news (x2)!

I had about 25 “little kids” show up for English Club. They were so excited! ANNNND they participated! They got kind of rowdy toward the end (I see why some teachers don’t have patience for working with the little kids), but that was partly my fault…


Today is Maria’s birthday. I called her this morning and sang, “happy birthday” for a kind of distraction because I had something else up my sleeve. I made her a card and then had as many students at the school as possible sign it. While she is no longer a teacher, everyone knows who she is, and many students still go to her for English tutoring. So, I told the students to meet me at the school after English club and to bring flowers- and we were going to go to her house and sing, “happy birthday”. So, we did just that (the older students were arriving with their flowers which is why the little kiddos got rowdy). We walked there together- all 40 or so of us- and I ran inside to get her. She was hesitant to come out (she had a guest- but don’t worry, she knew I was coming, just not with students). She finally came out and as soon as she came out of the gate, the students started singing and giving her the flowers. It was absolutely wonderful! Then, after the students left, she started crying. Tears of happiness, of course. She said she’s been a teacher for many, many years and produced 58 English teachers in her (now) 68 years of life, and she’s never had a birthday so wonderful as this.

Wonderful people should be rewarded more often. Maria has touched more lives than any other person I know and this just shows she isn’t thanked enough. So, don’t forget to tell those who you appreciate “thank you”. And also don’t forget to tell those you love, “I love you”. Really- those words can never be said enough.

(PS- I appreciate and love you for reading my blog)

16 September 2010

kid-ful day

Due to the fact that I don't speak Romanian fluently, I was given classes that are older because I don't really have to use Romanian in them. While I love these classes, I have really been missing little kids. Because I've been a babysitter for so long, I am used to having kids under the age of 13 around me all the time. But now I mostly work with students above that age. So, yesterday I took a step to change that (even though it was by accident).

I had a break before my last class for the day (the one where I had kids knocking on my door last week... update: it was quiet yesterday!). The weather was absolutely perfect, so I decided to sit outside and enjoy it. A bunch of 1st graders started to gather around me and kind of look at me- without saying anything. I realized they were done for the day so I asked them if they wanted to learn a dance in English. We went out in the yard and I taught them, "head, shoulders, knees, and toes" and, "the hokey pokey". It was so much fun and they tried to sing along even though they had no idea what I was saying. With time and practice I'm sure they'll get it. Then they taught me some songs and dances in Romanian. SO fun and absolutely adorable. They were all begging me to come to their classes and teach them English, so I decided to create yet another English club for them. Students don't learn English until 2nd grade here, but this one will be for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade. We will be playing a lot of games and I will be making a lot of visuals- I can't wait!!

Then after school some of those kids and some older kids asked if I could walk with them to the village that is about 20 minutes from us. I had nothing else to do yesterday so I agreed. There were 8 kids total by the time we got home (3 hours later) and they ranged from 4 years old to 7th grade. We stopped by the river and they went and picked fresh grapes for me. Now I know why grape flavoring tastes the way it does- because this is exactly how these red grapes tasted! They were so sweet and juicy and flavorful. After sitting there for awhile (and dancing some more), we continued walking and eventually made it to the school there (after stopping to pick some apples off the tree). It is only for kids kindergarten-9th grade, and after that they come to our school. Even with that amount of classes, there are only 100 students! It was the smallest school I had ever seen, but it was really nice because they'd just done reparations on it. After a tour, we played on the playground for awhile and I came to the realization that I am so out of shape because I couldn't even do the monkey bars. Are those supposed to be hard??!!

On the way back we stopped in the church I photographed awhile back. They are finishing up the painting inside and should be done soon. I took pictures- and hope to post them. Eventually.

Thanks to the nearly 3 hours of walking, I slept like a champ last night. 8:45pm-7am. WHEW!

Giving Grades (Marks)

Maybe it's because I am used to the grading system in America, but I do not like the grading system here in Moldova. It's on a scale of 1-10 (which is fine), 1 being "not good at all" and 10 being "super amazing". The teachers use, "I will give you lower than a 5" as a threat... but they rarely assign those marks because the school needs to look good so they can receive the funding (yes, I know this happens in America also). But if a students does not perform well on a particular day, the teachers to not have to assign them a mark. So, if a typically unproductive and "bad" student does well on one day, then they will assign a mark on that day. Not everyone receives a mark every day. And, when they do receive a mark, it is not based on their behavior, but rather on the correctness of their speech. When they do (or do not do their homework), they typically receive a mark, but it is not recorded anywhere, nor is it actually looked at for more than a second just to see if it was done (and if it wasn't, well, they may have to perform a dance in front of the class). So, when I assign homework, I don't assign a mark- I just correct it and write comments. I'd rather the kiddos focus on what they need to improve instead of their mark. Now, when it comes to giving a test, of course I will assign a mark. I've also been assigning marks during the day to at least half of the class, which is different for me, but it's how things are here so I will adjust.

But I have one particular student who got lost in English class a long time ago. She has difficulty pronouncing words, reading, and she doesn't do her homework. Maybe it's because a lack of interest, maybe it's because she doesn't care one way or another, or maybe it's because she got lost a long time ago and now one has taken the initiative to help her come back up. So the other day I assigned her a 4. Yes, it's under a 5, but she should have received something lower. She never participates, and when I call on her, she isn't too thrilled (but she does do the work when I call on her). Today, though, she actually volunteered to read an entire paragraph. She struggled her way through it but she didn't stop when the class was laughing at her. Her pronunciation wasn't too great, but she tried. To me, that was the most important thing. So, I gave her a 6 for the day. She got so excited, and I told her (in Romanian so she'd understand) to start participating more often and I will assign her good marks. And, if she wants help studying for the test we will have in a couple of weeks, I'd love to help her.

Hopefully that was encouragement for her to keep trying. We'll see... but today... it felt good to make someone else happy.

15 September 2010

Tutoring with Tudorita

I will start off this post by saying day 2 of the English Club was a success. I split the kiddos up in to groups by grade levels (4-8 and 9-12), and I run the club on different days. The younger kids are on Monday afternoons, and the older kiddos on Wednesday. Monday didn't go so well because I guess I wasn't sure exactly what I was doing. The only "foreign language" club I know is what I did at KU with the "frenchies"... the French Table. We (beginning students, Master's students, Professors, locals, native speakers) met at a bar once a week for a couple hours and we just had conversations in French. It wasn't for a grade or anything... it was just to practice speaking in French when we weren't in class. Personally, I thought it was a great idea. However, I also thought this is how English Club was supposed to work over here in Moldova, except instead of meeting at a bar, we meet at school. Well, let's just say I was wrong in that idea. The students (who all speak English very well) were not so excited about having conversations with their friends in English, when they can do it much easier at home in Romanian. Oh. Ok. Well.... things will have to be reviewed for next week. Because of this... let's just say... "misunderstanding" (you mean they actually want to LEARN something at English Club?!)... I changed things up a bit for the little kiddos. I did some research, downloaded an English Club Guide for Dummies book written by fellow PCV's in Moldova, and actually created a plan. (You mean sometimes it's a good thing to have a plan and be organized and do something ahead of time? Go figure.)

About 15 students showed up and they seemed to enjoy themselves. We went over basic introductions because I don't know everyone, played Simon Says using greetings (When I say, "Hello", wave your right hand. When I say, "Thank you", jump... etc). I think they had a good time.

But on the way to school I was stopped by the mother of one of my students. She asked if I could tutor her daughter, Tudorita (makes her name easy to remember... but really, that's her name). I thought she was asking if Tudorita could come to the English Club because she is only in 4th grade... but she really meant a one-on-one tutor session. I got so excited because most of the students to to see Maria for tutoring because she is amazing... but her family wanted ME to tutor her! Of course it was ok! When we finished English Club we came back to my house and began working on the pronunciation and memorization of a poem (which was her homework), and then she said that was all she needed help with. Thankfully I questioned if that was really it (which it wasn't) and we began to review verbs. I introduced her to the power of flashcards for studying, and I think it's really going to help her.

When we were done, she had me walk home with her to show her mother my iPad (it's amazing for giving presentations involving pictures!! ... and the kids love it). They then invited me to have some tea and cookies and we spoke in Romanian. When her dad came home, we continued talking, and it was wonderful. They tried to pay me as I was leaving but I told them that because I am a volunteer with the Peace Corps, that is not allowed. However, that discussion in Romanian/tea/cookies we just had? Absolutely perfect payment! Not only did I get to eat some yummy goodies, but I got to practice Romanian and they helped correct me. It was great!

Now it's time to start planning for my lessons for tomorrow... much later than expected, but it is well worth the wait. I have truly began to LOVE teaching.

14 September 2010

No cat

Yesterday I asked L if I was still going to get a cat.

Her response?

"Uh... no. I asked Antonina and she said, 'ABSOLUTELY NOT. No way. Not possible!' and then I told her you would keep it very clean and take good care of it and she said, 'No! I don't want to talk to you about this any more. Go away!"

I take that as a "not happening" response.

At least I don't have to worry about litter box training with a litter box, or what I would do with it when I went out of town. :P

An ESL teachers' worst nightmare

Way back during PST (pre-service training, in case you forgot) the M23's and M24's gave us some scenarios of what might happen while teaching our individual classes. It kind of seemed like it was one of those "that won't happen to me" moments... you know, where it seems like such a far-fetched scenario that it won't come true?

Think again.

This was the scenario: You are teaching your solo class, when all of a sudden someone starts pounding on your door. As soon as you open it, you catch a glimpse of a student running down the hall and turning the corner. This happens a few more times throughout the lesson. Because you do not teach all of the students in the school, you do not know who this student is. What should you do?

Thankfully we came up with a few ideas of how to counteract this in PST. Unfortunately they weren't good enough because all of the things we said were combatted with a response by one of the current PCV's saying, "sure, that could maybe work BUT...." When this happened to me last week (on my birthday, go figure), I couldn't think of the best way to work with these kids.

You see, on Thursday I teach my only solo class the last period of the day. Some students are lucky because they get to go home before the last period (I'm not sure why everyone doesn't have class, but they don't. This includes kids of ALL grades, not just high school). While this is great for the kids, it's not so great for teachers because when the teachers are done, they go home too. So there is no one monitoring the halls to keep the noise down or to keep the students away from, let's just say, for example, MY door.

Here's how the rest unfolded:
1. First time the door was opened (and closed)
It was the beginning of class so I assumed to kid was mistaken (and apparently so was I)
2. Second time the door was opened (and closed)
Same kiddo. I let it slide.
3. Third time the door was opened (and closed)
I went and opened the door and left it open. But then it got noisy and my students wanted it closed.
4. More students gathered outside the door and began knocking.
I opened the door (aggravated) and told them (in Romanian?) to go home. They walked down the stairs then apparently came back.
5. Music started playing right outside my door.
I told the students to ignore it.
6. Knocking commenced again.
I had my whole class come to the door (quietly) and told them to go RAWR when I opened the door. They were louder than I thought, but it scared the noise-makers quite a bit.
7. When I told them to go home again, they stayed.
So... I invited them INTO the classroom. I said, "If you want to learn English so bad, then come in and learn English." And you know what?

They actually came in to the classroom and paid attention. I had about 7 "new students" of all grade levels and two that were "too cool" and actually went home. Or at least outside. The new students even participated... which I appreciated because I thought they would just be obnoxious again. Maybe it was just luck that time, but at least I figured out a solution, even if it meant I only got through grammar that day (but I'm pretty sure every student in my 8th grade completely understands "there is, there are, this is".) It also ended up being a great outlet to invite the students to the English Club, which started yesterday.

Then today I had a bunch of students asking to join my class. I guess they enjoyed it... but I'm not so sure the Director will enjoy if I add a bunch of students, of all ages, to my roster. :) ... good thing we have English club. Now the question is: What exactly am I going to DO for English club?

12 September 2010

Bday appreciation

Thursday was an awesome day for the most part. The weather was cold and rainy, I felt sick, I had some disrespectful students (not mine)... but none of that matters because everything else made up for it!

When I walked into my 4th, 10th, and 11th grade classes, they all started singing, "Happy Birthday" to me in English. The 10th and 11th graders gave me cakes and champagne. I received well over 100 flowers from the students in the school- I couldn't even carry all of them with me home because there were so many. I've never felt so appreciated before for something that I am doing. It was such a good feeling to have students that I don't even teach give me flowers and tell me they wish me success and many years of happiness. The best part? I've known them less than 2 weeks!

One of my 10th grade classes

The decorations my 11th grade class did for me on the (non magnetic) chalkboard. They're so sweet!

My 11th grade class

Look at all of the flowers the students got me in my school!! I'm pretty sure I got over 100. I've never felt so appreciated for something that I do before... this is the most rewarding part of teaching.

Pics 2

Fall is here! It's apple season!

View from my house
My 4th graders

birthday cake from my 10th graders

New Pics

Tyson- my new "Cali" (although he's not a stray)

08 September 2010

Birthday Eve

Well, it's the eve of my 23rd (gasp!) birthday. It's been a rainy day but I was able to sleep in until 7:30 because I didn't have to teach until 3rd period.

What you probably don't know (but do now!) is that Moldovans celebrate most holidays for 2 days. I was under the assumption, however, that meant the day OF the holiday plus the following day.

Apparently I was wrong.

Today I went to Maria's and she gave me a squirrel stuffed animal and a chocolate bar. Then I went to L's and she gave me a plant and another present is on it's way (I'll get to that). Then at dinner my NMG surprised me with a HUGE cake that said "23a" (meaning 23 ani, meaning 23 years). She also gave me a white towel with a beautiful embroidered blue flower on it. I'm afraid to use it!

The biggest surprise (which is the one coming later)? I'm getting a cat. Yes, you read that right. A cat! Actually, I lied. I'm getting a kitten. L's kiddos know how much I love their dog so they assumed it's a good idea to get me a kitten. While I am beyond thrilled (my sister is probably shocked), I'm pretty sure my host family (FG) is not going to be so thrilled. Let's just say they aren't the biggest animal lovers- and that says a lot considering most Moldovans aren't animal lovers. So I'm curious to see how this goes over... and whether or not I'll be able to keep it indoors.

In the meantime- any ideas on how to "potty train" a kitten when you don't have a litterbox and you don't want it to be an outdoor cat?

06 September 2010

Lesson of the day

My first lesson went absolutely awesome today! Like I said in the previous post, I learned 7th graders like the "hokey pokey" and "head, shoulders, knees, and toes". While they were shy at the beginning of the lesson I think the songs really helped them out and hopefully (fingers crossed!) they will be more talkative and active for the rest of the year. It was the first time they've had English class since school started so maybe it was because they are still in summer mode and they forgot their English... who knows!

The second lesson, which was with the 10th grade, didn't go so well. I had the lesson all planned out- it seemed great! Due to the fact that I was not able to get in contact with my partner teacher before late last night, we weren't able to do the plans together, so I had to do them when I had a break between classes. So, like I said, it seemed great! Had the plans been made ahead of time then I would have had time to look for pictures of the vocabulary words to create a slideshow, or I could have drawn flashcards with markers and such. But, due to the lack of time, that wasn't possible. I figured it would be OK because there were pictures of the vocab words in the books. What I didn't know, however, was that the words were not cognates and the students had no idea what they meant when having to do a matching exercise (lobster? rhinoceros? blimp? freighter? really??) . When I realized they had no idea how to match the word with the picture from the book, I was at a loss- as was my partner teacher. I ended up having to give them the answers to that we could complete another exercise.

What did I learn from this? PLAN AHEAD!!! While I did plan ahead, I didn't plan ahead enough so that I could prepare materials. Just because my partner teachers aren't used to having visuals (so it's easier to prepare with less time) doesn't mean I can't do it. I mean, PCV's are here to create something sustainable... and visuals (and actual written plans!) will help with that.

Oh what a day.

On a different note... I did laundry for the first time since I arrived at my new site. It's been awhile. lol

Low turnout?

Moldovan referendum appears to flop on low turnout

CHISINAU, Sept 5 | Sun Sep 5, 2010 4:32pm EDT

(Reuters) - A referendum in Moldova to decide on whether to elect the president by popular vote appeared to have failed on Sunday because of a low turnout, according to figures from the Central Election Commission.

Commission secretary Iurie Ciocan told journalists that turnout stood at 29.67 percent, with final figures to come in only from a part of Moldova in the breakaway territory of Transdniestria and from Moldovans working in the West.

Commentators said these were not likely to influence the final turnout enough to bring it close to the 33.34 percent required to make the referendum valid.

The outcome was a blow for the ruling West-leaning Alliance for European Integration, which had pressed for the referendum to help to end political paralysis, and a triumph for the opposition Communists who had called for a boycott of the voting. (Writing by Richard Balmforth; editing by David Stamp)

Article found here
More information can be found here (a more in-depth article)

Yesterday was a big day in Moldova... or at least everyone made it sound like it was a big deal. Moldovans were supposed to vote for-or against- a Referendum which, if I understand it correctly, was to determine if they are going to have the right to vote (and have it count for something) or if they are going to have other people represent them have have them vote. While everyone seemed to care about the turnout of this, it seems that not everyone seemed to care enough to cast their vote. Moldova hasn't had an official leader for almost 2 years- and this vote was supposed to be a step in the direction of electing someone. Since it no longer counts, I'm curious to see what will happen next... and I'm sure most Moldovans are with me on this. Stay tuned... hopefully something will be decided before I go back to America.

Before 9:45 AM

This is what I learned before 9:45 AM today:

1. Ironing can be fun
2. 7th graders like the "hokey pokey" and "head, shoulders, knees, and toes"
3. 5-Eight = 8 countries (France, Germany, Italy, Japan, UK, USA, Canada, Russia) that get together throughout the year to discuss various Global problems and how to fix them together (and the meeting is called "The Summit")
4. Switzerland is NOT part of the EU, but it is part of their trade and they follow the laws of the EU. The EU is Switzerland's largest trading point, and Switzerland is the EU's 4th largest.


I've never been one to iron my clothes. Why not? Well, I never saw the need. I mean, my clothes have never been too wrinkled, and the wrinkles usually went away (for the most part) by the end of the day.

L has been pointing out my wrinkles so I guess it's time to start ironing. Maybe the reason I've been so opposed to it before is because it makes me feel too grown up. Newsflash to me: I'm almost 23 (is it Thursday yet?!) and I'm actually working in the real world... it's time to start ironing me clothes.

And you know what? I ironed my shirt AND my skirt this morning and it felt pretty good. It helped the little trigger in my brain tell me, "hey. You're a grown up now. And you know what? This is kind of fun".

So every morning I will now be ironing my clothes so I can remember I'm a grown up now and it's important to look nice and professional.

05 September 2010

Age appropriate

Sometimes I forget when I learned certain things in school. When I tried to tell a 6 year old, for example, that "hi" and "hello" are synonyms, I expected her to understand what that meant. Until, that is, she looked at me with a blank stare like I was speaking some foreign language. Oh wait. I was. But I also forgot that she was just beginning school and had no idea what the word "synonym" meant. My bad.

Another age appropriate- or maybe culture appropriate?- story comes from 4 girls I met today after returning home from my weekend in Pelinia. There was a 5 year old, and 2nd, 3rd, and 6th graders. We were talking about how long the trip was from Pelinia to here (about an hour, in case you were curious, too) and they asked me how I got from here to there (by rutiera). Then they asked if I got to Moldova from America by a rutiera, and I said, "no, plane". Their response? "Wooooow. Yes, it would be a long trip by bus." Yes, a very long trip and also a very difficult one considering there is an ocean in the way. :)


I totally just milked a goat.

Mark this down in history!! It was a very weird feeling, but so exciting at the same time. My stepmom and stepsisters would totally laugh at me because they grew up with goats, but I didn't... so this was a first time experience for me.


04 September 2010

From a PCV in the past...

The part about the "current" is so true!!

01 September 2010

First Day of School: 2010

Thankfully I woke up this morning feeling MUCH better! I was hungry, and food even sounded appetizing.

The first day of school in Moldova is a much bigger deal than it is in America. I remember tossing and turning all night long because I was afraid I would miss the first day, eating breakfast (usually Monkey Bread), taking pictures as a family, and then walking to school. School itself never seemed to be anything out of the ordinary from any other day during the school year, expect we were all excited to have new teachers and new classmates. But in Moldova- nuh-huh. Definitely not the case!

You see, in Moldova, students stay in the same class with the same students year-to-year. I think this is because the schools are much smaller (so maybe in small schools in America it's like this, too... I'm not sure). But, regardless, the thrill of seeing who is in your class is not that exciting here. Everyone (teachers included) arrived to school around 8:30 dressed head to toe in black and white, and also very formal. (I missed the formal memo, so when I arrived to L's house and saw how dressed up she was, I ran home to change!). Our school does not have uniforms for the students, but they do require them to wear black and white every day. You wouldn't believe the size of the white bows that some of the girls had in their hair! Or the heels! I'd also never seen so many different ways of braiding hair before. Everyone was so proud of their new clothes and how great they were looking... and the kindergarden boys in their suits. Absolutely adorable!

So, we all met outside (all 400 students+most teachers+some parents) and the Principal, Mayor, Priest, and some students gave speeches. Everyone was walking around and telling the teachers "Much success for this new year," "Good luck" etc. That is definitely not something I am used to! And then, one moment I heard Americanca (American female) and the next thing I knew, I was supposed to be up front giving a speech! L told me it was OK to speak in English, so I did, especially because I didn't have anything prepared. One of the 12th graders translated for me- which was very nice of her, especially because she didn't know she'd be doing that, either. (That kind of seems to be a theme here... no one really knows what is going on until the last minute, and even then- it's foggy).

Once the speeches were all said and done, and students gave teachers flowers (I have never received so many flowers at once!!), 1st period began. Today the students only had homeroom, and then they were free to go. After an hour of homeroom, everyone went downstairs to look at their temporary schedule for the next 2 days, and then they left. The teachers, meanwhile, met in the cafeteria for food and drinks (which included vodka, beer, soda, water, fish soup, bread, cake, potatoes, chicken, and tomatoes). Almost everyone gave a toast (or 2 or 3 or more) for the school year.

Now it's time to plan my lessons for tomorrow and maybe Friday. Whew, should be exciting. It's weird to say I'm a teacher now... but I guess it's the case. I still feel really young and like I shouldn't be doing this, but I know it's normal and this is where I'm supposed to be! Peace Corps did a great job preparing me, but I will admit: tomorrow terrifies me!!!!


I was sick in bed all day yesterday and at dinner my host dad tried to have me drink homemade whisky... saying it will make everything better. When I couldn't stomach anything other than bread and rice, I really don't think that whisky is a good idea! lol

Thankfully I'm feeling better as of right now- which is a good thing since it's the first day of school!

I've also realized my internet works great at 6am, so I'll try to do blog updates at that time with pictures (and I can even skype!)