The text in one of the 4th grade lessons has a student pretending to be the teacher. So to start the class, we got this volunteer to be the “teacher” and review the previous lesson’s vocabulary with the class. As you can see, it was a big hit!
How could we make teachers feel even more appreciated than the awesomeness of Thursday? (See this post) What if we put them on a bus, take them to a camp in the woods, give them an excellent meal and lots of music, singing, and dancing, with some poetry and toasts thrown in for variety?
Well, probably those weren’t the words used by the Teachers’ Syndicate when they planned our Friday afternoon event, but that’s pretty much the way it turned out! Click the pictures and read the captions to find out all the details!
What a wonderful celebration! I love that when Moldovans celebrate, they do it with tremendous joy and enthusiasm. I am so fortunate to have shared in the festivities!
Zimbet (zim-bet) means smile. It makes me smile when students greet me in the halls or stairwells, trying out their English. I hear “Hello” from giggling nervous 4th grade girls, and in deep bass voices from 12th grade boys who are taller than me. As I take a shortcut behind some apartment buildings, a girl in a bicycle sings out “Hello, Miss Teacher!” I can’t stop smiling.
September 1st marks the first day of school throughout the tiny Republic of Moldova, so my school, along with every other school in the country, celebrated on Friday with a ceremony called Primul Sunet (“Preem-ool soon-et”*), or First Bell. Early in the morning students and teachers gathered around the school courtyard. Students were dressed in their best for the occasion, and many carried flowers which they would later present to their teachers. Excitement was in the air. Teachers watched over their flocks; parents readied their cameras; sixth-grade boys poked each other and wrestled a little when their teacher wasn’t looking; teens surreptitiously checked their cell phones. Incoming first graders were gathered in a special section with their new teachers. The ceremony began with some words of welcome and the national anthem. Then the new 1st graders paraded in pairs under an arch made of rainbow-colored balloons and, were officially welcomed to the school!
The celebration that followed included songs performed by students of various ages (including three of the new first graders!), poetry recitals, and speeches by the principal, the vice-mayor and other dignitaries. We saw a skit where a clown was convinced that he should go to school, since the 1st graders in the audience knew more math than he did! A talented team of dancers performed a beautiful dance (slow and flowing, different from the other traditional dances I’ve seen lately which tend to be livelier and more bouncy), which culminated in an offering of copaci (traditional braided rings of bread) to the principal and vice-mayor. An orthodox priest offered a blessing for the school year.
Finally, the “first bell” was rung. A 12th-grade boy led a 1st-grade girl around the circle, as she loudly rang a handbell. Meanwhile, a 12th-grade girl led a 1st-grade boy (with a bell) in the opposite direction. The ringing of the bells signified the official start of the school year at this Liceu! The balloon arch was released into the sky as everyone broke into applause. Students filed inside to attend a short session with their homeroom teacher, and find out their schedules for Monday. The year was off to a great start!
Mouse over the pictures below to see captions, or click for larger images
So, I’ve been here in Cahul (in the South of Moldova) for just about 2 weeks. It’s already starting to seem familiar. Strange to realize that just a short time ago I lived in a different town with different people, had different everyday activities, was surrounded by many more people who were on the same Peace Corps journey as I was, and was still focused forward toward the time when my service would actually start. Then came Swearing In Day, August 16th, which marked the moment when I stopped being a trainee and became a volunteer. That evening I shared the photos below on Facebook, with the commentary you see below it. (I’m re-posting them here for those of you who don’t do FB. Mouse over the images to see captions, or click on them for a larger version.)
Wow, what a day! I began my morning bright and early (van comes at 7:00, be at the gate with your luggage!) as a Peace Corps Trainee in the village of Costești, and am about to end my day as a Peace Corps Volunteer (wow!) three hours further south, in the town of Cahul. In between, I danced, ate, swore the same oath that the president swears on taking office, got interviewed by Radio Free Europe, said goodbye-for-now to some incredible people (miss you already), hugged a lot of necks, spent a long time in a minibus, and was warmly welcomed to my new home with a ton of food. I am stunned by the number of experiences packed into the last 17 hours. And I am thrilled to pieces that I can finally say (after many years of considering, and more than a year of working towards it) “I am a Peace Corps Volunteer!”
Bonus! Video of the first dance we performed at Swearing In!
Today Moldova celebrated 26 years of independence! Today is Ziua Independenței (“zee-wah in-deh-pen-den-tsay”*), Independence Day. Here in Cahul, there has been a parade, dancing, singing, poetry, speeches from local, national and international dignitaries as well as local schoolchildren, handicrafts, and more dancing. Still to come: music and fireworks (So watch for updates!). Here are some of the highlights (mouse over the pictures for captions, or click for larger versions):
At the dining-room table, Elena and Sașa are preparing something. Elena has rolled the dough into spiral logs, then sliced them. Now she is carefully rolling the resulting nuggets into circles of dough. Sașa generously fills each with a spoonful of something, and pinches the sides to make a triangular pie. At first I think she is adding fruit filling, but on closer inspection and questioning, it turns out to be raw chicken bits and chopped onions, with a little pepper and salt.
My friends direct me to the kitchen, where previous batches are already baking. They smell wonderful, and the dough is turning a rich, flaky golden brown.
When I ask the name of these delicious little chicken-pie thingies, my host mom gets a puzzled look on her face.
After consulting with her friend, she tells me they don’t really have a name. That evening, the nameless but scrumptious tartlets are served at a family meal and I ask the name again. Nobody can say. Sașa’s sister jokingly names them Coteț de Găini (coh-tets day guh-ee-nee”)* which means “chicken coop”.