Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Why I haven't been blogging

I am way behind with blogging. It's not because nothing is going on, believe me. I took a trip to Mozambique, I've been busy teaching physical science to Forms 2-4, I did Camp Sky!!!, I had my COS Conference and I have less than two months in my service.

So why I haven't I been blogging?

The main reason is this:

This message makes me so sad : (

Almost everytime I try to do anything at my phone when I'm at my site, I see this message above. My cellular internet has gotten to the point where even WhatsApp only works half the time. Phone calls don't come through a lot, and I lose service at lest once a day. So doing a blog post is pretty much out of the question, especially if I want to upload a photo.

That means I have to go to the city to get 3G data so I can post. Which I have done over the past two months. Quite a bit actually, between vacation and camp prep. But I've been so busy when I'm there that I just didn't find the time to sit down and to write and reflect on my experiences.

But now I'm running out of time, and I know you're all dying to hear about Camp and the snake in my bafa and how the kids tore all my sweet potatoes out of my garden and how my Form 2s are starting their National Exams. So I'll try to write some posts at my site and then post them the next time I'm in the city.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Educație pentru Sănătate certificate :o]

I made certificate de realizare (certificates of achievement/diplomas) for my students and partner teachers. Below is an example (for one of my partner teachers). The kids, my partners, my school director, and adjunct directors LOVED them! :o] The triangle in the background is „Triunghiul de sănătate” (The Triangle of Health), which includes physical, mental, and social health. It was what i used as the foundation for my 2 years of teaching Health Ed. 

On the bottom it says, "Mesajul de sănătate: „Sănătatea este o stare de completă bunăstare fizică, mentală, și socială, și nu doar absența bolii sau infirmității.”" (The health message: "Health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.") Every class we had a health message, basically summarizing the topic of the day in 1 or 2 sentences that the students wrote in their notebooks. The quote I used on the diplomas is a definition of health that was their very first health message and was taped to the wall for the whole 2 years.

Below is my 5th grade class with my partner teacher, Elena. :o]

The rest of my classes (6th-9th) i teach with my partner teacher, Natalia. Below is our 7th grade class with Natalia near the center with the pink scarf. :o]

Here should be my 8th grade class photo, but i forgot :o[... I'll try to get them together next week on the last day of school.

This is my 6th grade class, whom i love dearly. They were my worst class last year, but this year the school split them into 2 classes, so i got the privilege of being able to teach this class. They went from my worst to my very very BEST class! I love them and will truly miss them! Natalia and i are standing on the far right. 
Left-to-right: Alina, Alexandra, Nicoleta, Tudora, Lilia, Ion T., Vlad, Vadim, Grigore (my very favorite student :o]), Marionela, Valeriu, me, Natalia. 2 of my students, Cristian, and Ion G. weren't there yesterday. 

And lastly, our 9th graders. 

Overall, all my classes were pretty great (7th grade was my worst this year, but i still liked them individually...just as a class, they were pretty chaotic).

I'm so grateful that i had the opportunity to teach health ed for the past 2 years. I've always wanted to be a teacher, and now i can say, that after teaching for 2 years in a foreign language, that i really do LOVE teaching! I'd love to have the opportunity to teach in my native tongue...maybe someday :o]

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Really Moldova??

So, I have a sudden bald spot. It's been there for a month now. It doesn't hurt or itch. It's not discolored. There was no injury. Just a bigass, round, smooth-as-a-baby's-butt, bald spot. Thanks Moldova.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Just carrying some chickens...

Mama-G bought about 30 adolescent chickens. She arrived to the house in a van with like 5 other helpers & a probably 3 y/o little girl to help deliver them to the coop. 

As they were carrying them in, the little girl started swinging on the porch swing. Then everyone left except for this little girl, whom I've never met, & me. She quickly realized my language difficulties & left...I guess she went home...?

A little later Mama-G returned & asked me to help her move the older chickens to a different area closed off from the newer chickens cuz the older chickens would fight with the newer ones. My job was to receive the older chickens, one by one over the fence from Mama-G and put them in their new coop...for someone who has never held a live chicken before (me, duh), that 1st chicken proved to be quite comical for Mama-G to witness. She handed it over to me, but I didn't understand how to hold it exactly, & let it go before putting it in its new coop & then it tried to escape & was running all around me bawking & flapping its wings... meanwhile, Mama-G was cracking up on the other side of the fence watching me try to re-pick-up the chicken as its bawking, flying, & running all around me. Eventually I was able to pick it up & put it in the coop... 1 down, about 20 more to go...


Yesterday Mama-G came home with her hand behind her back and asked me if i wanted a surprise (duh...of course i do!...i LOVE surprises!!). So i said, "Duh...of course i do! I LOVE surprises!" She told me it was something from the garden...CHERRIES!!

Apparently they were the talk of the town. She said she noticed kids eating them from her tree when she came home and she asked them what they were eating and they said "cherries" and she couldn't believe she hadn't noticed them. She said they're early this year. 


They're mighty delicios!

squatty-potty...Moldovan style

My view from a recent squatty-potty i was using.

And the "toilet paper" (it's in Russian, sooooo, myabe it's a political statement?)



Know what this is?? 

Nutria! Ever since watching Andrew Zimmern eat it on Bizarre Foods, i've wanted to try it. I had heard that they were here in Moldova, but in the 2 years i've been here, i had never seen one...until this past weekend when i came back to site from vacation and Mama-G had cooked one up! I was so excited! I told her how i'd been curious to eat it for a long time. She was a little surprised, but pleased. And i'm happy to say that it was very tasty...i even liked it better than rabbit! 

The above photo is a baby one, being raised to be eaten. It's soooooo cute, but really pretty tasty too... sorry lil guy...

Paștele Blajinilor

My favorite Moldovan celebration is Paștele Blajinilor (Easter Memorial, or Easter for the dead... loose translations), which takes place over 2 days - the Sunday and Monday following Orthodox Easter. It's when the cemeteries all over Moldova (and other Eastern European countries, i'm told) come alive with family, friends, food, and drink at loved ones' graves. Every grave (to my knowledge) in Moldova has a permanent picnic table and benches set up just for this occasion. 

How it works: You go to the cemetery with your foods and drinks. Set up your table. Decorate your loved ones' graves. Wait for the priest to come by to bless it and to spray you with holy water. Then everyone eats and drinks and socializes. People walk around with bottles of their casa de vin (house wine) and offer shots of it to everyone else...it's definitely the fastest way to get...tipsy...because everyone's just pouring you shots left and right. 

I love it for a lot of reasons, one of the main ones is because it's a truly authentic holiday that just can't be replicated anywhere else. It's unique to Moldova (and a few other countries). I also love cemeteries...and it really is a beautiful thing when a place for the dead comes so alive with celebration! 

I got to take part in it again this past Monday with Mama-G at her parents' cemetery in the village she grew up in :o]

I love that they grow plants over the grave sites. Another example of abundance of life in their cemeteries!

Lesson on Discrimination

My partner teacher and i taught a lesson about discrimination that proved surprisingly effective. While researching effective ways to teach about discrimination to middle-schoolers, i came across an experiment done by a teacher (Jane Elliott) in the 1960's called Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes Exercise (found at JaneElliott.com) that i decided to try out in my classes. She did her experiment over 2 class periods, but i had to condense it into 1 class period. 

So we started the class by having everyone stand up and instructed all the brown-eyed kids to move to the back of the class for the entire class and all the blue-eyed (or everyone without brown eyes) kids move to the front. 

Then we started our lecture as usual, by giving stickers to those who wrote in their "Grateful Journals" and did their homework...but we ignored all the brown-eyed kids. The brown-eyed kids became very upset, which set the tone for the rest of the class. 

After we gave stickers, we asked for 7 volunteers...and again ignored the brown-eyed kids. The 7 volunteers were each given a different name tag to wear (poor kid, mother without a husband, pregnant woman, black person, Gypsy, gay, doctor). Then we read about 20 statements out and asked them to step forward if they thought the statement applied to the name tags they were wearing or not (for example, "You live in a house with internet access and cable TV"; "You've never been discriminated against"; "You are not afraid to be stopped on the street by police"; "You have the right to vote"; "You can choose your own profession"; etc.). Then we asked why they did or didn't step forward.

Then we defined and discussed what discrimination is, what a stereotype is, different forms of discrimination (race, sexual orientation, age, gender, religion, handicaps). etc. 

After that we handed out the above-mentioned types of discriminations to groups of 4 to have them role play what they might look like. The brown-eyed kids refused to partcipate, saying since they hadn't been included during the whole class, they weren't going to do the assignment. I had mixed feelings about their response. On the one hand i was glad that they were seemingly truly understanding what if feels like to be discriminated against (which was the whole point of the brown-eyes vs. blue eyes), but on the other hand they knew what the class was about and i found it interesting that even though they knew they were being discriminated against for the purpose of the class, that didn't matter, they were still upset and unwilling to participate.

So, after the role-playing, i then spoke to the brown-eyed kids and asked them how they felt after being discriminated for the whole class. They all said they were upset and angry. Then i asked the blue-eyed kids how they felt as witnesses to such discrimination against their classmates and friends. They said it was unfair (but none of them spoke up during the experiment, interestingly). 

Then we ended the class with a demonstration. I had 1 brown and 1 white egg. I asked them what the difference was. They said the colors. Then i cracked them open into a bowl and asked them if there was still a difference. They said they were the same. I said that's how people are too...we may look different on the outside, but we're all made of the same parts. 

Then, because i felt bad for the brown-eyed kids, and because they were still sore about the whole thing, i let them choose from the goody bag...so, i ended it by discriminating against the blue-eyed kids...opa! ;op