The leaves are changing color, the days are getting shorter, and the smell of wood burning is in the air. It’s fall in Romania and I am already halfway through another semester of teaching. The past two months have flown by, but here is a quick recap of everything that’s happened since my last post.
The start of the school year started with the same pomp and circumstance as last year. The mayor came and spoke, the priest said a mass, and the principal officially opened the school. We have several new teachers this year and it was a nice change to not feel like the newbie this time around.
Once school had officially started, it was back to the daily grind. My schedule is pretty good even though I didn’t luck out with a Friday off like last year. I have most of my classes on Mondays and Tuesdays, switch off week to week between the kindergarteners and the 1st graders on Wednesdays (a compromise due to a scheduling conflict), and only have two classes on Thursdays and Fridays. Thursdays end up being pretty hectic, however, because after I finish at 10am, I come home and tutor my gazda sisters for two hours before racing back to the school to meet with my American Culture and English Club. The most noticeable difference so far this year has been the ease with which I’ve transitioned into teaching. My Romanian is better, I’m a pro at lesson planning now, and I already know all of my students. It’s often said that in the Peace Corps, the first year is all about figuring things out and the second year is about getting things done. I think I still managed to get some things done in my first year, but so far, it’s been true that the second year is easier.
At the end of September, present and past PCRO volunteers, partners, and beneficiaries met in Bucharest to celebrate Peace Corps Romania’s legacy at a gala event at the US Ambassador’s residence. The event was a huge success and a great opportunity to celebrate all of the amazing work volunteers and Romanians have achieved together in the more than 20 years that Peace Corps has been in Romania.
Immediately after the gala, Nick and I had to race back to Sibiu for Alexandra and Doru’s wedding. Alex and Doru have been wonderful friends to Nick and me over the past year and we were incredibly honored when they asked us to be in their wedding. In Romania, bridesmaids and groomsmen must be unmarried, which gave Nick and me a leg up in being asked since Alex and Doru have a dwindling number of unmarried friends.
The morning of the wedding, I got ready in my purple bridesmaid’s dress and then went to Alexandra’s mother’s apartment to help her get dressed and primped. There were some technical difficulties with the dress but luckily, her sister, Delia, was able to come to the rescue. Soon after, the groom, the godparents, and the groomsmen came to bring the bride and bridesmaids to the church, booze in hand. (Part of Nick’s serious responsibilities as a groomsman involved drinking whiskey with the groom and other groomsmen from 9am). The service was incredibly beautiful and more like a concert than any wedding ceremony I had ever seen. The priest sang the mass with the accompaniment of a lovely choir and seemed to be making jokes with the bride and groom throughout the whole service.
After taking pictures around Sibiu, we went to the hotel restaurant for the reception, a nearly ten hour event with six-courses and each course portioned as if it were the whole meal. The food was delicious, the gin and tonics kept on coming, and the company was wonderful. All in all, it was the most fun I’ve had in Romania thus far.
October was spent teaching, finding partners for some penpal projects I’m starting with one of my classes and my English Club, getting ready for Halloween, and studying for the GRE. I found a PCV in Macedonia looking to connect her fourth grade class with another volunteer’s and a penpal blog that will connect the children in my club with students in Armenia and Bulgaria. Both should be amazing opportunities for my students to learn about life in another country and to see the value of learning English as a tool to communicate with kids their own age.
The students in my club also celebrated Halloween this month with some toilet-paper roll creepy crafts and a Halloween party with snacks and a scary movie. The second, third, and fourth graders stayed after school on Wednesday to watch Monsters Inc. and the whole school participated in pumpkin carving and mask making contests. Overall, Halloween was a success but I will admit that I am more than a little happy that it’s over now!
November is promising to be another busy month. Besides the GRE in two weeks, I will be holding a training event open to all English teachers in the county on how to incorporate games into their classes. At the end of the month, I will be giving a guest lecture at the university in Sibiu about volunteerism and the results of the election. In between, I will be hosting a mini-Thanksgiving dinner for the kids in my club before meeting up with other volunteers to celebrate the holiday all together at Meg’s site. Until next time!