As I had anticipated, November was a crazy month. Since I last blogged, I have taken the GRE, become a teacher trainer and university lecturer, crafted till I couldn’t craft anymore, helped make and eat a Thanksgiving dinner from scratch, and got a year older. Phew!
First things first, in early November, my counterpart teachers and I organized a teacher training workshop at our school for other English teachers in the county. The theme of the training was “Games in the Classroom—Making English Learning Fun” and was designed as an interactive lesson with the teachers playing the role of students. For an hour, the thirteen participating teachers and I played a dozen different English games. Some of the games were classics like Simon Says; others were some we learned in training, and some I made up myself. The training was a big success and the teachers and staff at my school put together a great spread of traditional Romanian snacks for us all that was equally as great of a success. It was a wonderful opportunity for me to share some of the training I’ve gained through Peace Corps and as a student in the US and to hear stories from English teachers who had a Peace Corps Volunteer as a teacher. It gave me hope that I might have a similar influence in my own students’ lives as these teachers’ former volunteer had.
Just four short days later, I was in Arad, taking the GRE. I won’t write too much about the test itself but studying for it on top of my teaching and projects was an exhausting process and I was not sad to be done with it. I won’t know my scores for another few weeks but for now, I’m feeling positive and am glad to be done! I celebrated my accomplishment by visiting Nick for a night on my way back to Sibiu. With weekends full of practice tests and studying, we hadn’t seen each other for a few weeks and it was nice to spend time together and relax.
The Thursday after the Teacher Training, I started a two-week long project with the students in my clubs, making tissue paper vases and origami flowers in fall colors. The flowers and vases were put together as a Thanksgiving present to all of the teachers and staff at my school who work so hard. On Thanksgiving, we made tissue paper vases using jars we had been collecting since September and tied on a little tag that said in English and Romanian “Happy Thanksgiving! We are thankful for you.” I also made the kids an apple pie and we went around the table saying what we were thankful for. On Friday morning, the students passed out the vases to all the teachers and staff at the school.
Friday was also my 24th birthday. Alexandra and her eighth grade class serenaded me and gave me flowers and chocolates first thing in the morning and Nick came to school with me, which made the day feel extra special.
After school, Nick and I were off to Odorhei to spend Thanksgiving weekend with our volunteer friends at Meg’s house. The birthday celebration continued there with a homemade glitter crown and a good time with dear friends. The highlight, of course, was Matt and his dad, Tom, singing Walking in Memphis into Meg’s speakers.
Saturday was our Thanksgiving dinner and Meg and I started early baking pumpkin and apple pies. Nick made some delicious cornbread and we all helped with the turkey, which turned out great. As it was getting closer to go time, things got a bit stressed in the kitchen but Meg, Megan, Lindsey, Alex, and I used our powers of teamwork to get everything ready on time. It was one of the most delicious Thanksgiving meals I’ve had in a long time, with green bean casserole from scratch (aka no cream of mushroom in a can—Lindsey chopped those mushrooms herself and we made a roux! ), scalloped potatoes, homemade stuffing, mashed potatoes, homemade gravy, cornbread, savory sweet potatoes, caramelized carrots, and a moist and flavorful turkey. Meg’s counterparts also came and brought a whole rabbit and a cake, too! For dessert we had my apple pie and Meg’s pumpkin pie and pumpkin roll, which were all delicious and from scratch. We are quite domestic here in Peace Corps Romania, as you can see.
The next day, after gorging on leftovers for breakfast, we were back on the train towards Sibiu. I was coming down with a cold but had to fight through it to plan the presentation I gave this morning at the university here in Sibiu. For just over an hour, I discussed the build up to, results, and consequences of the US Presidential, and to lesser extent Congressional, elections of 2012. I was with the American Studies students who have a high level of English and a greater general knowledge of American politics and culture than most 20 year old Romanians. It was a great opportunity for me to discuss something I’m passionate about with an interested audience and I spent another half hour after my presentation just talking with them and answering their questions on everything. I’ve been invited to come back next semester and I look forward to spending more time with that class and their wonderful teacher, Anca.
For now, I’m looking forward to a long weekend to celebrate Romania’s National Day, December 1st, the start of Christmas Pageant carol rehearsals, Christmas crafts with my club, and a Crafting Workshop that I’ll be giving to the teachers at my school in two weeks. Only three more weeks of the semester—I cannot believe how quickly time is flying by! Until next time!