Monday, May 25, 2015

Pro European Union Protest in Chișinău

While in Chișinău on May 16, we came across a protest. There seems to be a protest every weekend in Chișinău. According to 

"Thousands gathered at a rally in Chișinău on Saturday, demanding Moldovan authorities implement reforms in order to bring the country closer to the European Union. Demonstrators marched through the centre of the city, with police securing the area. No violence was reported."

There were so many protesters that they stopped traffic for a while...they finally lifted their banners to let an ambulance drive under.


I had my final review of the year last week! YAY! 

Before every test this school year, we have played Jeopardy to review, and the kids LOVE it! So, of course, we did the same for the final review too! I chose 10 topics over the past year to review: 

Ce este sănătate? (What is Health?)
Ce este nutriția? (What is Nutrition?)
Exerciții fizice pentru sănătatea mea (Physical Exercise for My Health)
Igienă personală (Personal Hygine)
Spălarea Mîinilor (Hand Washing)
Bolilor transmisibile contra netransmisibile (Communicable vs. Noncommunicable Diseases)
Ce este diabetul? (What is Diabetes?)
Pericolele fumatului (The Dangers of Smoking)
Pericolele abuzului de alcool (The Dangers of Abusing Alcohol)
Pubertate (Puberty)

How we play:

1) I divide the class into 3 teams (you can kind of see the columns on the left chalkboard that are numbered 1,2,3). 

2) I choose which team goes first and second by asking a health-related questions, both of which are also 2 of the Jeopardy questions and will of course be on the test. Whichever team i see who raises a hand first, gets to answer first. If they get the question right, they get to go first. If they answer wrong, one of the other 2 teams can answer by raising their hands (again, whoever i see raises their hand first, gets to answer). If the second team answers wrong, then the third team has a chance. If they all answer wrong, i tell them the answer and choose another question to ask and the process begins again until we have the order in which the teams go.

3) For each team's turn, i use the green ball (it has a smiling onion on it...appropriate for health class :o]) to choose who gets to come to the board to choose the keeps them orderly and keeps them from all rushing to the board at once. And they like to catch the ball.

4) Once a student chooses a category and it's accompanying points, they read the question aloud to the class. Only the team who's turn it is is allowed to answer. They can use their notes from class and can work as a team (within their respective teams, of course).

5) If they don't know the answer or answer wrong, then whichever team i see who raises a hand first can answer (like at the beginning). If no team gets the right answer, i tell them the right answer and no team gets the points.

* The points is where it gets interesting. They're not all necessarily worth their face value and they're not all necessarily point blank questions. Some of my variations include:
- free points
- draw something on the board (ie: the Health Triangle, determining portion sizes using your hand, etc.) 
- demonstrate something (ie: a type of exercise, where and how to determine your pulse, etc.)
- all the teams play for the points within a certain time frame, and whoever has the most correct answers wins 
- get another chance to go again (if they get it right)
- receive 10 points for every correct answer (for a question with multiple answers)

6) Then there are the bonus questions. They aren't allowed to choose the bonus questions until they complete an entire category. The bonus questions are real wild cards...some may be worth 100 points while others are only worth 10.

At the end of class they tally up their points. Each student on the winning team gets to pick a goody from the goody bag! It's a lot of fun :o]


I taught a lesson on puberty and for the activity afterward, had the students draw differences that they had learned about comparing prepubescent with post-pubescent. Below are some of my faves!

George Michael as a kid? 

Post-pubescent: (And him in the '80s ;op)



This guy changed a lot!

I think this one is sweet :o]

I love how he kept the same odd side pose ;o]

The kids really liked this activity! They had a lot of fun and it gave them the opportunity to laugh and draw some funny and creative pictures dealing with puberty...a subject that is often embarrassing for kids to talk about, especially in a classroom setting.

Moldovan amusement park...yikes

Sooooo...we found an amusement park in Chișinău...

You pay by the ride. 

When we saw the rides, they looked inoperable...but we were wrong. Below is the roller coaster. It goes in a circle with little, yet very jerky, hills. Apparently this amusement park is quite the hit with Moldovans because a wedding party was there! I took a picture of them on the roller coaster :o]

There's the bride!

Our turn!

Ya, just some broken down parts sittn' against the ticket booth.

This is one of those spinney rides that plasters you against the wall by it's G-force. We thought for sure it was broken down...again, we were wrong.

Our turn! Saying our prayers ;op

Amanda's a little concerned...

But it was pretty fun :oD

A carnival game...? I guess they give you something sharp to throw at the balloons.

Sketchy swings.

 We had to try em out! As we were swinging our feet could touch the bushes! Kinda funny.

The slowest ferris wheel ever.

And yet still managed to be scary.

Then there was this...panda dog and a sweater-wearing monkey!

I guess the monkey was probably tired of getting his picture taken all the time, so he buried his head in the chair when i pulled out my camera! How funny! And sad :o[ And, i guess, kinda sums up our mini amusement park adventure!

Friday, May 22, 2015

I'm a Rebel

The title is mostly in jest. As Colii can attest, I am quite the rule-follower. But when I strongly disagree with a rule on principal, I have few qualms with not following the rule.

This came up yesterday at school. I had been up early to prepare a lab for my Form 1 Physical Science class. We are studying methods of separating mixtures. I was just explaining the lab to my class when a school prefect came in. He said he had a list of the students that reported to school on time that day, and that they were the only ones allowed to be in class. I looked at the list. It had about 11 names out of a class of 90. So basically my whole class was supposed to be punished during my lab period? No way was I gonna let that happen.

I told him that my students were not going to leave my class because we had a lab, and that he should let whichever teacher assigned the punishment know that they should be punished afterschool for their tardiness if need be. Then I sent him on his way and I gave my class a quick lecture on how they need to be at school on time because I don't want them missing my classes.

After that we had a great lab. We looked at separating mixtures by evaporation, filtration, chromatography and hand-picking. It was more of a demonstration since we have very few materials, but I was able to have each group come up and observe all the separations and answer questions about them.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

What's In-Season: May

May has been a really nice month, weather-wise. The rain is pretty much over, which I'm bummed about, and there has been a lot of wind, which isn't my favorite. But the mornings are chilly, followed by afternoons that are sunny and warm. So I get to wear long sleeves and snuggle under my blankets and drink tea in the morning, but there is still plenty of sun to dry my laundry and my dishes during the day. It's the best of everything.

In Mulanje we have access to a pretty diverse assortment of produce year-round. At the Boma this weekend I bought green beans, carrots, green peppers, avocados, bananas and a grapefruit. They also had a ton of tomatoes, onions and greens for cooking, since those are staples in Malawi. But not all of it is necessarily from this area.

At this point I consider something in-season if I can buy it in my village market. There are a few vegetable stands in the market, plus a few vendors that sell their produce on the side of the road. The selection is much more limited than what is available in the Boma, but it definitely changes each month and gives a good picture of the crop calendar around here.

So what's in-season in May? Right now the vendors are selling sweet potatoes (mbatata), cucumbers (nkhaka), peanuts in the shell (mtedza) and small bananas (nthochi).

Also, guavas! My neighbor Fanny has been sharing guavas she picked from her tree with me. They are small and green, but then they turn yellow and smell delicious when they are ripe. I've been eating them whole, skin and seeds and all.

But the biggest crop available right now is sugarcane (zimbe). Everywhere you look you see people chewing it, and there are sugarcane fibers all over the ground.

You buy it in a huge stalk, which is way too much for me, so I always share it with my neighbors. Here are the kids posing with their sugarcane.

The kids get really excited about having their picture taken, but then immediately stop smiling for the actual photo. That's the culture here-- people don't usually smile for photos like we do in the States. I forgot the word for "smile", but I told the kids "Sangalalani!" which basically means "Be happy!" Then I took this photo.

Aren't they cute? Just another fun May afternoon hanging out with my neighbors in Malawi!

Friday, May 15, 2015

My First Malawian Graduation... and a Surprise

When I took the Malaria Awareness Club to Mimosa for World Malaria Day, I ran into my friend Olive. She had attended GRS Training with me and was one of the Form 4 students at Camp Sky. She  invited me to her upcoming graduation. So today took a mini-bus over to Mimosa so I could celebrate with her.

I met my PCV friend Justin and we walked over to the ceremony together. On the way we passed this vendor selling goat meat. Check this out-- goat intestines wrapped around stomach. Yummy.

When we arrived, we found the ceremony had already started. Turns out we had the wrong start time. Also, their Guest of Honor had not shown up yet, so they needed a new one. And... they picked me. Um, what?!?! So all of a sudden I went from audience member to Guest of Honor. Oh yeah, and I would have to make a speech. Yikes-- in front of all these people!

We were ushered through the crowd to the stage and seated with the teachers, the Chief, and the committee members. Gifts were given out to some students, then there were speeches by the Head Teacher and the Head Boy. Then it was my turn.

I opened up with some Chichewa introductions, but my bilingual skills quickly petered out so I switched to English. I kept my remarks brief, something along the lines of how as teachers our job is to prepare the adults of the future, and that they are the future of Malawi and can make real change happen. I also encouraged them to study hard for their MSCE exams next month. Not too bad for an improv speech, I hope.

Then it was time to hand out certificates to each student. Guess who got to hand them their certificates-- me! So I shook hands with all 100+ students, have them each their certificate and then posed for their grad photo with them and their families. I felt like I photo-bombed every kids graduation photo!

Afterwards the Head Teacher invited Justin and I to eat lunch with him. We had chicken, rice and vegetables. It was a good meal. We talked about the upcoming MSCE and the education system in Malawi. He also told us about the tree plantings they have been doing at the school.

By the time we were finished, the students had all changed from their school uniforms into their fancy clothes because it was time for the disco. But it was getting late (cuz it gets dark at 5:30 now) so we decided to head out.

Here is a pic of me and Olive. Isn't her dress beautiful?

My school has their graduation scheduled for next month. That one should be a breeze cuz I'm a seasoned pro now.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Happy Mother's Day from the other side of the world!!

Happy Mother's Day from Malawi and Moldova!

Being a PCV required leaving behind our family, friends and basic modern conveniences like indoor plumbing and electricity. It takes a daily commitment to be here, doing what we hope is meaningful work for the people of Malawi and Moldova. But it takes more than that-- it takes our Moms!

To my Amayi (Mom), all the way from Malawi:

Mom, it's not our first Mother's Day apart, but there has never been quite so many miles between us on this day. I wish I was there to give you flowers and cook you breakfast and watch a Lifetime movie with you, and go to Kohls and get a latte and take a walk around the lake, and just basically spend the whole day trying to let you know how much you mean to me. I admire you so much for your strength, your faith, your generosity and your goodness. I am really blessed to have you for my Mom. You have always loved me and supported me no matter what, and it has meant so much to me to know you are always there. I'm an adult, but I will always need my Mom!

Thank you for all your letters and care packages and phone calls too. Without you, it would be a lot harder to be here, maybe impossible. Thank you for taking care of things for me while I am away, and for your support and love as I go through this crazy adventure called Peace Corps. I couldn't do this without you! Whatever good I do here is made possible with your help. Ndathokoza kwambiri! I love you!

To Mama mea (my mom), all the way from Moldova:

Happy Mother's Day, Mom!! 

I know you know i love you, but you could never know how much. God wholly blessed me by giving you to me to be my mom! I thank Jesus for you EVERYDAY. Thank you for being the BEST mom i could ever have! Thank you for ALWAYS being there for me, unconditionally. Thank you for your continual support, even with my sometimes perplexing, often crazy life decisions. I know i can rely on you for honest, yet gentle advice. And although i don't always heed your advice, i know i have your support and love no matter what, and that is worth everything! 

Iubesc și dor de tine foarte mult (I love and miss you so much) and can't wait to celebrate Mother's Day 2017 WITH you!! :oD ...or maybe even 2016 if you're in Moldova with ME :o]

I hope you have a day FULL of overflowing love (after sleeping in as late as you want, of course), accompanied by your favorite flowers (lalele - tulips), dark chocolate gooeyness (brownies with chocolate chips and walnuts), dinner at your favorite restaurant (The Cheescake Factory), and (a) gift card(s) to your favorite shopping destination(s) (Macy's & TJ Maxx), that you deserve (Are you getting my hints Phil and Dad??)! 

Know that my thoughts and prayers are always with you! 

LOVE your favorite kid...i mean, daughter ;op, cole

P.S. PPPLLLLEEEEEEZZZZ give the mudg-girlz overflowing LOVE from her Mama! :o] And thank you for taking care of her while i'm away!!

Mama-G gave me her 1st bloomed Iris of the season, so i'm celebrating you with it! Every time i look at  it on my windowsill i think of you!

Aren't we cute? :o] I had such a fun time with you in China and am so looking forward to your trip to Moldova next year!!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Ziua Victoriei (Victory Day)

Victory Day marks the capitulation of Nazi Germany to the Soviet Union in the part of the Second World War known in the Soviet Union as the Great Patriotic War where the Soviet Union fought against Nazi Germany.

It is honored in Moldova by everyone dressing up and gathering at their respective schools before 09:00. Then at 09:00 the whole school walks to whatever WWII monument is in their village or raion (town) where they then spend the next 1-2 hours honoring those who served in the war. 

My village's Primar (Mayor) was the first to speak and also introduced the various other speakers/performers. Below is my host mom reciting a poem.

Here are some of the kindergarteners dressed in traditional Moldovan garb marching on stage to perform a dance...and this is where things got intersant? confusing? odd?

They danced to Boney M's "One Way Ticket (to the Blues)" which, first of all, is in English, and secondly is about a man getting a one way ticket to "Lonesome Town" and staying at "Heartbreak Hotel" to get away from his lover who left him...which has to do with WWII...?

Next up were this group of girls (most of whom are my students) dancing to 10 second sound bytes of different songs including Toni Braxton's "Un-Break My Heart", Ray Charles' "Hit the Road Jack", Lou Bega's "Mambo No. 5", Los Del Rio's "Macarena", C & C Music Factory's "Everybody Dance Now", Justin Bieber's "All Around the World", and Madonna's "The Power of Good-Bye". 

Yup...quite the mix for this WWII memorial!

Then my 8th form student, Radu, sang. One song in Romanian and the other in French. He's kinda our village's super star! He really does have a great voice and i wouldn't be surprised if he makes a living from it. He was actually one of my firs students i talked to outside of class. I was walking home one day and he was too and he started singing Frank Sinatra to me, in English! It was before i knew of his super star status :o] 

This was one of my favorite performances. Just a dude and his guitar singing old Romanian songs. That's more my style. It was pretty awesome.

Then the Mayor honored the remaining WWII veteran living in our village. While he was paying his respects, a little kid ran up and gave the veteran flowers! It was so sweet!

The WWII veteran:

A lalea (tulip) that my partner teacher gave me, that i placed on the memorial.

The memorial stone.

The whole set up...+ 2 little girls ;op