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!!!!