Posted in celebrations, Language, Peace Corps, school

In Their Own Words

In 100 words, write about a tradition in Moldova you would like a foreigner to learn about.

These were the words of a homework assignment in the 8th Grade English textbook recently.  The class had studied celebrations in English-speaking countries and now it was time to share what they knew about their own celebrations (while practicing English, of course!) “Hmmm….”  I said to my partner teacher, “What if we give them the opportunity to really share their thoughts with foreigners?”  So here we have, especially for my “foreign” readers, some fascinating Moldovan traditions, as described by three outstanding 8th grade students, in their own words:

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“Marțișor” by Valeria C.
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“Easter”by Lucian C.
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“Marțișor” by Anastasia D.

Food Friday: Muraturi

IMG_5349Murături* can be roughly translated as “pickled things!” Here we have harbuz marinat (pickled watermelon) cerii marinate (pickled cherry tomatoes) and roșii verzi murate (pickled green tomatoes).  Everything has been prepared with home-grown seasonings, including bay leaves, and in the case of the green tomatoes, garlic, dill, grape leaves and horseradish leaves.   The pickled watermelon in particular was a pleasant surprise. A nice blend of sweet and sour.  Some people eat the rind and all!

*Approximate pronunciations: Murături “moo-ruh-too-ree”;  Harbuz marinat “har-booz mah-ree-naht”; cerii marinate “chair-ee mah-ree-nah-tay”;  roșii verzi murate “row-shee-vairz moo-rah-tay”

Posted in Language, Peace Corps, People

Word Wednesday: Cadouri

giftsAs I may have mentioned, I am fortunate to live in a town where there are other American volunteers.  Occasionally I get to spend time with the lovely ladies in this picture, two of whom are fellow Peace Corps volunteers, one in Health Education and the other in Community and Organizational Development.  The third is a Fullbright English Teaching Assistant, serving for 9 months at the local University.  About a week ago, we finally had a chance to carry out our “secret snowflake” gift exchange (which was supposed to happen before Christmas) and a lovely time was had by all!  I’m not sure whether the best cadouri* (gifts) are the items we exchanged, or the people I spent the afternoon with!

*approximate pronunciation: “cah-DOH-oo-ree”

Posted in Language, Peace Corps, Photo

Word Wednesday: Lalele

Sasha’s granddaughter got a lot of flowers for her birthday.  Some of them are tulips, and now I have a new favorite Romanian word, just because it’s so much fun to say!  One tulip is a lale and the plural is lalele*.  So that is the word of the week!  Enjoy.

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Beautiful bouquet of lalale that Anastasia got for her birthday. Gorgeous AND fun to pronounce!

*Pronounced just like you think it is: “lah-leh-leh”   🙂

Posted in celebrations, Culture, Language

Word Wednesday: Pomeni

This week’s word is a little sad.  Wednesday was the 4th anniversary of my mother’s death.  Here in Moldova, there is a custom of celebrating that day with a toast commemorating the dear departed.  To give such a toast is to pomeni.  So I bought a bottle of wine, and my host mom and I shared a toast and a few words about what a special person my mom was, and how much I miss her.   In this picture you can see how beautiful she was in her youth:

Vada May
Rest in Peace, Vada May, we love you!

Comical side note: we didn’t have a proper corkscrew to open the wine, just the one in my Swiss army knife, and neither of us could pull hard enough to get the cork out!  So we ended up toasting with Sasha’s delicious homemade wine instead!

*approximate pronunciation “poh-men-ee”

Posted in Language, Life & Such, Peace Corps, Photo

Word Wednesday: Iarnă

Last week we received a text from our Safety and Security Manager telling us that a “code orange” Winter Weather Alert was in place. Iarna* (winter) had finally arrived.  Ever since, my walk to school has been covered in snow.  And filled with wonders for an Alabama girl, who has never actually experienced snow that stayed around for more than a day!  Here are a few of the glories of Iarna in Cahul, Moldova!  Click for larger images.  There are few captions as the images mostly speak for themselves!

*Approximate pronunciation: “yarn-uh”

 

Posted in Language, Life & Such, Peace Corps

Word Wednesday: Glod

In the summer, I was astonished at how quickly things dried. Wet sidewalks, laundry on the line, puddles, all dried much more quickly than in the humid Gulf Coast city where I grew up. This fall, I walked to school on roads of baked, dried earth. Then the winter rainy season hit, and now those streets are covered in glod (“glode”*). Mud. Walking to school has become a little more complicated! And this morning some of the mud puddles were covered in a glassy layer of ice. Winter is making its presence felt! Maybe next Wednesday’s word will be gheață (ice)!

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 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.
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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.

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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?

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

 

*pronunciation approximate

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!