Posted in Language, Life & Such, Peace Corps

Word Wednesday: Gleznă

img_4199So, three weeks ago I tripped over a doorway.  No big deal, right? Wrong.  Three weeks later the swelling in my gleznă (ankle) hasn’t gone down.  So this week I got to experience the awesomeness of the Peace Corps medical office.  Peace Corps takes very good care of its people, and after a couple of attempts to solve the problem with medication alone, I was whisked away to a lovely modern medical facility here in Chișinău. The Peace Corps doctor accompanied me to get X-rays taken and made sure I understood everything that was said (you really understand the importance of a translator when someone tells you to roll over and you have to ask them to repeat it more slowly!). In the physical therapy department she consulted extensively with the therapist and went to great lengths to make sure I understood and was comfortable with everything that took place. State-of-the-art ultrasound, TENS and magneto therapy were all available. All in all, I’ve been tremendously impressed with the level and quality of care. I’m sure my gleznă (“glez-nuh”*) will be 100% again as soon as humanly possible!

*pronunciation approximate

Posted in Peace Corps, Reflections

Double Vision

Like many people I know, I recently saw the new Justice League movie.  Unlike most of them, I was in a movie theater in a small Post-Soviet republic in Eastern Europe.  Like them, I entered the theater, bought tickets and popcorn, and put on a pair of 3D glasses.  Unlike them, I was treated to previews (and possibly advertisements, who knows?) in Russian, with Cyrillic characters. As I enjoyed the movie, I pondered more subtle ways in which my experience probably differed from theirs.

You see, in this movie there’s a sub-plot where we discover a family in peril in a small Russian village.  When this family spoke to each other in Russian, most of my American acquaintances probably heard something very exotic, outside their common experience; I had just heard Russian-language movie previews.  The person at my side and everyone behind me understood what was being said; in America they probably had subtitles.

Not actually the building where our hostel was, but the very similar building next to it. Looks a lot like the one in the movie, doesn’t it?

A little further into the movie, during a pitched battle in the same area of Russia (spoiler alert!) Superman threw a huge building at the forces of evil. He threw what looked to me like a Cold-War era Soviet apartment building.  In fact it looked a lot like the building where I had slept the night before.  I wonder what it looked like to my friends back home?

Putting on 3D glasses results in a completely different experience. Without them the images on the screen are doubled, distorted, and flat. Don the glasses and suddenly everything jumps into a sharp, surprising, very different perspective. Experience is like that. What I saw, filtered through the lens of my own recent experiences, couldn’t help but be different from what was seen by others with different sets of experiences; different lenses. Noticing the differences, trying to understand from both points of view, is kind of what the Peace Corps experience is all about. Developing… double vision.

Posted in celebrations, Culture, Peace Corps


Last Tuesday our town celebrated Hram.  What is hram?  Well it tends to be translated as “Village Day”, “Town Day”, or “City Day”.  Once a year, each town or village takes a day to celebrate its existence!  The date for each place coincides with the saint’s day for the patron saint of the town’s largest church.  (Our church is named for the archangels Michael and Gabriel).  Here is a glimpse of this year’s Hramului Cahul.

Click for larger pictures, or mouse-over to see (lovely informative) captions.  

Bonus!  Here’s a 28-second snippet from the ceremony blessing the town:

Posted in Life & Such, Peace Corps, People

Training and Reconnecting

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This weekend my two site-mates were both gone to Chișinau! That’s because the Health Education (HE) and Community and Organizational Development (COD) programs were both participating in the Fall In-Service Training (IST), which I was fortunate to take part in about two weeks ago with my fellow English Education (EE) volunteers.  In all, we spent 5 days together in Chișinau, during which time I:

  • Practiced a lot of Romanian, learned some new constructions, and had all my questions answered by a fantastic language teacher
  • Got a wealth of information about working with extra-curricular programs
  • Got to know my partner teacher even better, outside of the school context
  • Learned some interesting new tools for working together as a team
  • Enjoyed the company of some truly awesome people I spent the summer with, who are certainly now some of my closest friends
  • Shared our experiences in the field, learned from and supported one another

All in all, a wonderful experience!

Posted in Life & Such, Peace Corps, school

Forging Partnerships

20171116_090121Today the eleventh grade had a special project.  Instead of grammar or reading texts from their book, they created a photo greeting in English. Why?  To introduce themselves to a similar class of students in North Carolina!  My partner teacher (in the picture below) decided to participate in a partnership program that will involve several interchanges of information throughout the year.  North Carolina has a history of strong ties with Moldova, and the students are excited about getting to know their fellow students in another part of the world.20171116_093351

Posted in Culture, Language, Peace Corps, Reflections, school

Word Wednesday: Grădinița

img_3830Kindergarten. What does the word bring to mind?  Brightly colored furniture, and colorful decorations depicting the alphabet, colors, and numbers.  Lots of different manipulatives (aka t.o.y.s) for active young minds and hands to explore.  Materials for “make-believe” — young learners’ way to discover more about their world.

img_3832Lots of inviting books for children to browse through and teachers to read. A barely-controlled buzz of activity at all times, as little ones develop their language and understanding of the world, exploring, interacting and talking.  If you are reading this in America, sadly, many of these elements may have disappeared from today’s kindergartens.  But I found all of them at the grădiniță (“gruh-deen-eet-suh”)* that I was privileged to visit last Friday.

I’m told that this building houses many classrooms like this, catering to somewhere around 200 children, ages 2-6.  The classroom I visited houses 25 students, aged 5 and 6, with their teacher and an aide.  They eat a hot lunch in the room, and take a two-hour nap afterwards in real beds.


This is a public school, funded by the government, with some support from parents.  (Incidentally, working mothers also get a 3-year maternity leave, with their job held for them, mandated by law).  Show of hands: how many of my kindergarten teacher friends now want to move to Moldova?

In Moldova, you leave your shoes by the door, and wear sturdy slippers indoors.


*pronunciation approximate

Posted in celebrations, Culture, Peace Corps, People, school

Toamna de Aur at the Grădiniță

A “pharmacist” ready to help some sick forest animals

Anyone who knows me at all, knows that I love little kids.  After years as a kindergarten teacher, I miss interacting with them every day.  So when I was offered the chance to visit a kindergarten (grădiniță) and watch their Autumn celebration (Toamna de Aur), I jumped at the chance!  But I wasn’t prepared for the how talented and well-rehearsed these five-year-olds were!

This dance was called “Flower of Autumn”

The show lasted a full hour, and included poetry recitals, dances, a skit, games, and a sort of a cross between theater and make-believe, all woven into a story that kept the little ones engaged and interested while charming everyone in the audience.  The kindergarten teacher participated in the show, while an extremely talented music & dance teacher gave cues from the sidelines.  Without any adult interference, these little ones fell into formation for at least 6 different dances (some requiring carefully-prepared props).  They also performed a skit with memorized lines, and several recited poetry.  In between, the teacher, took them on a “search” through an imaginary forest for Zina Toamnei, the spirit of Autumn, with a little help from Baba Cloantsa (a scary, forest-dwelling witch) and a friendly forest gnome.   Here are just a few carefully selected highlights (Click for larger images and captions!): 


Posted in Language, Peace Corps

Word Wednesday: Poftim

Poftim (pahf-teem) is the most useful word in the whole Romanian language.  According to a room full of PCVs (some of whom have been here much longer than I have) it can mean:

  • What?
  • Can you say that again?
  • Here ya go!
  • There ya go!
  • Enter!
  • Go ahead.
  • Sarcastic: “Okay, here, then.”

As I said, very useful.  So if anyone’s interested in learning Romanian; Poftim!