Category Archives: Language

COS Conference

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COS (Close of Service) is just around the corner, 85 days away for me, and the last and final group in Peace Corps Romania got together this weekend for our very last conference during our service and the very last time to see some of our fellow volunteers.

Wednesday, Megan, Meg, and arrived in Sibiu around 5pm from Meg’s site and headed to our hotel. We unpacked, met up with a larger group and headed to dinner. Dinner was followed by drinks and a night of some pretty interesting karaoke.

Thursday and Friday we had sessions from 9-5pm. Some were very emotional and reflective which made some of us tear up and others were more administrative based discussing paperwork and various procedures. My favorite part of the conference was when the program managers gave us letters that we had written to ourselves the day before we took our oath as volunteers. I totally forgot about them and couldn’t remember what I wrote. I was so surprised to see what I wrote that I immediately teared up because I had achieved my goal that I set for myself two years prior. My letter read as follows: “I want to empower the youth of ROmania (main the girls) to be all they can be and for them to believe that anything is possible.” Our last session on Friday was held at the Astra outdoor village museum just outside of Sibiu. We danced some traditional dances, at some cozonac and got to tour the facility in horse drawn carts, bikes, or on foot.

After we got back we hung out at the hotel and slowly got ready for our dinner that staff was going to throw for us. I also took my LPI (language proficiency interview) at this time and am happy to say that I scored an Advanced High-Superior level on Romanian knowledge which lets me officially say that I am somewhat “fluent” in the language.

At the dinner we celebrated our service and were awarded superlatives both from PC Staff and a committee of PCVs chosen at random. The superlative it got from staff was “Most GLOW-ing” and the one I got from my fellow PCVs was “The Romanian Army Knife” because I apparently can do anything. There is a story behind the second superlative but we won’t go into that.The night ended in the wee hours of the morning just before sunrise. I said bye to the volunteers that I wouldn’t get to see before the end of service and went up to me room for a 3 hour nap before heading on a bus back to site.

I’m currently at site until Monday morning when I leave again, this time with my school, for a week long field trip around Romania.

Until then, Va pup!

CLICK HERE FOR PICTURES

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Moldova Language Weekend

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This year, PCRO is trying out a new thing when it comes to language and cultural training. The staff in the Bucharest has opted to give us the option of creating our own language weekends and to structure them how we see fit which I think is a great idea. This weekend, about 8 PCVs from groups 28 and 27 descended on to Suceava for a language/culture weekend that Melissa put together. Our plan was to make our way around Suceava county visiting as many famous painted Monasteries as daylight would allow. A little history about the monasteries: During the late 15th to 16th centuries when the Ottoman Empire was trying its hardest to conquer as much land as possible, Ștefan Cel Mare (Stephan the Great), the ruler of Moldova at the time, was the one who withheld the Turks for the longest period of time. Winning 46 out of his 48 battles, he would erect a church after every battle since the war was so heavily guided by religion. There are 8 churches within Suceava county that are UNESCO world heritage sites. The locations we visited were Putna, Sucevița, Moldovița, and Voroneț.

Putna

Putna – Ștefan Cel Mare built this monastery in about 1466 and it was then later rebuilt several times due to fires and other events that destroyed it. This monastery is very important because it houses the tomb of not only Ștefan Cel Mare, but also many of his family members. The legend of Putna Monastery has it that after defeat that left him severely wounded, Ștefan Cel Mare wandered the land until he reached the home of Danil the Hermit who took him in patched up his wounds. One day, Danil took Ștefan outside and pointed to a spot amongst the mountains and asked Ștefan if he saw anything. The third time the hermit asked, Ștefan said that he saw lights. The hermit told him that those were not lights but angels and if he was going to defeat his enemies, he would need to build a monastery on that very spot.  The next day, Ștefan headed to the top of a mountain and shot 3 arrows. Where the arrows landed, he built the alter, belfry, and gate.

Marginea

Marginea –Along with its many artistic monasteries, the northern Moldova region is also known for his black ceramic pottery. On our way to Suceavița, we stopped at a ceramic workshop in the sleepy town of Marginea. We got to browse around around a bit take in the beauty of the dark clay.

Sucevița

Sucevița – Another UNESCO site, built in 1583, this monastery was one of my favorites. The ornate paintings on the wall were absolutely beautiful. This church is actually the only church in the area that was not founded by a ruling prince but was rather founded by 3 brothers. Although related to Petru Rareș ( the illegitimate son of Ștefan Cel Mare) on their mothers side, these three brothers ended up becoming well known rulers within the country after the building of the church. The church is dedicated to the resurrection and the main color used for the outside paintings is sea foam green. One of the large side walls shows St. John’s ladder into heaven that is very impressive and one of the attraction points of the church.

Moldovița

Moldovița –  Moldovița was founded by Petru Rareș (the illegitimate son of Ștefan Cel Mare) in 1532. This church is dedicated to the annunciation and one of the side walls contains the entire Tree of Jesse. The predominant color used on these walls is a rich golden yellow.

Voroneț

Voroneț –This monastery was our final stop and we definitely saved the best for last. When walking onto the grounds, there is nothing all that special about the church or surrounding areas. the church itself has become prisoner to some torentious wind throughout the years and most of the pictures have faded with the north wall nearly all washed away. The saving grace to this church is not only that it is dedicated to St. George, only the best saint ever in my book, but the mural that is very visible on the west wall of the church. That mural was the most extravagent and interesting peice of artwork that I saw the entire weekend and I was stunned. With its main color a shade of blue that has become known as Voroneț blue, the whole wall depicts the last judgement with such great detail one can stare up at it for hours without a falter in amazement.

To see the rest of the pictures for this past weekend, click the link below:

Moldovan Language Weekend Pictures

What a Surprise!

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Firstly, I would like to send a shout out to Zoki and Makenzi (even though I know it was mostly Makenzi’s doing). THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THE PEANUT BUTTER OVERLOAD PACKAGE! You guys rock!

Now on to the actual post. Today, my students surprised me with their English ability. I got the chance to meet 10A and 10B which are my lowest levels that I will be teaching this year. Both of the classes have around 30 kids so I am very glad to be able to split them up into smaller groups. I saw a lot of familiar faces in 10A. About 7 people from that class showed up to my summer camp so I got to meet them a little bit before hand. Something that is interesting about that class is that there are 5, yes, FIVE boys with the same name of Ionut. This will be an interesting year for sure!

During class, they presented themselves to me and I to them and then we had just enough time at the end of the class to establish some basic ground rules and for them to ask me any questions if they wanted.

My real surprise came with 12A. The “A” classes are referred to as the “smartest” classes within each grade and this class blew me away with their English ability. Its a smaller class of about 20 and the students were a delight to talk to. I first presented myself to them and told them about myself and then opened up the floor for questions and discussion. I got the basics of why I came and what I think about the country and then the questions started revolving around my thoughts on the country, the world’s thoughts about Romania, the economic crisis and my opinion of it and many others. I enjoyed it so much because it definitely wasn’t a one sided conversation. Students were speaking up left and right and we had a legitimate conversation going on. I can’t wait to actually start lessons since we will be focusing on speaking!

Tomorrow there is no school since all of the teachers have to go to county wide conferences in Bistrita or Nasaud so I get to spend my day going to the customs office in Bistrita and arguing with them about my package and how I don’t actually have to pay a customs tax. Its a much more difficult process than it seems, trust me.

That’s all for now, hopefully the rain stay away this weekend so I can get outside some more.

Until next time,

Va Pup!

p.s. The schedule is finally finished! Here it is:

 

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

8:00-9:00

XIIC

XB

XIB

XIID

 

9:00-10:00

 

 

 

 

XIIC

10:00-11:00

XIA

XIB

XA

XB

XIIA

11:00-12:00

XA

XIIB

 

XIA

XIIB

12:00-13:00

XIIB

XIID

 

XIB

XB

13:00-14:00

 

 

 

XIIA

 

English Summer Camp A Luat Sfarșit!!!!!

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I can safely say that my first ever English camp was a success! I’m extremely happy that it went so well and i’m just as happy that its over. This time last week, I was freaking out and trying to lesson plan and think of creative activities to do with the kids. Now i’m sitting in an empty apartment procrastinating the cleaning that needs to be done. Continuing where I left off with my last post, Thursday, we started out at the school and went around town to verify the written directions the groups had made to various locations throughout the town. After finishing up that, the real fun started. We headed out on a short 45 hike to a local hilltop with an amazing view of the city and it’s surroundings. We stopped mid way, did the banana song, then continued up the hill. When we got to the top, the kids were blown away by the view and spent the next half an hour pointing out their houses and other places of interest. I found it interesting that most of the kids, even though they have spent their entire lives here, had never been on this hill. Click here for more pictures from the hike.

After the camp was done, we (the counselors) went grocery shopping, and headed home. While Jeremy was making an absolutely amazing dinner, we busted out my newly purchased Monopoly set and started playing and planning for Friday’s activities. During our dinner conversation, Melissa and I decided on creating a scavenger hunt for the groups that would take them throughout the entire city. We amazingly completed everything within 2 hours. We devided the group up into 4 teams and had each of them go to a total of 6 locations.  Here is the list of clues that each team had to figure out. Scavenger Hunt Clues We woke up Friday morning at 6am and headed out to hide the clues. Imagine 3 Americans running around at the break of dawn taping things under benches, tables, and statues. I’m sure the locals that were out were wondering what the hell we were up to.

Friday was a sports/field day where we just did a bunch of relay races and we even taught the kids how to play ultimate frisbee. We started the day off with the scavenger hunt. I’m going to be honest and say that I definitely had my qualms about this event. I expected the kids to think it was too hard and give up or to screw around and not do it or to leave and not come back. Much to my surprise, 40 minutes later, the first team came back singing Queen’s “We are the Champions”. I verified all the pictures they took on their phone and asked them the 1 question they had to answer and that was when does train 15157 arrive into Sangeorz-Bai. Unfortunately, the team was in such a rush to finish that they totally skipped that part of the clue. The second team arrived about 5 minutes after and the first thing they said to me was 11:30!!!!!! This was the time the train got into the station. They were so worried that they would forget, they made sure to tell me immediately. Since this team knew the time, they were awarded with first place and got the prize which were bags of candy. All the teams did a great job and from what some of the locals told me, the teams took the competitive nature of the hunt to heart and were running around the entire city not even bothering to stop and say hello to their elders.

When all the teams got back, I asked them what games from this week they wanted to play and it was a unanimous vote for Mafia. We played mafia twice and then we moved on to the more physical activities. Jeremy taught them a cool game called trophy, we did some relay races where they had to create their own teams and they called themselves Team Bananas and Team Apples. The last and final game we did was ultimate frisbee. It took a while for them to understand how it worked and it didn’t help that they kept on trying to throw it as far as they could so the frisbee would inevitably role down the hill. After about 20 minutes of play, the first goal was scored and we decided to call it a day. I handed out all the diplomas and asked the kids for some feedback.

I can’t even begin to describe how much of a high I am on right now. I’m still in shock that I managed to pull this off and I know I could not have done it without the help and support of the PCVs that came in(some as far as 12 hours on an overnight train).

Below are more pictures and videos from the camp. Enjoy!

Click here for pictures from the entire week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I would also like to mention that ( if you don’t included prizes which were my choice to by) we spent a total of 10 Lei on the camp. That works out to about $3.25 American Dollars. I think that is fairly amazing!

English Camp Continued

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As of now, we have successfully finished 3 days of English Camp. The second day involved teaching the kids directional words such as left, right, forward, back, in front of, behind, etc…We started the day off by playing ship and sailors which they really got a kick out of and so did I watching them. We moved then moved onto another teamwork activity which was call toe-to-toe. The point of this activity was to have all the students stand up at the same time with their toes touching one another. The students fell down many times before we gave them a hint and they figured out how to accomplish the goal. We had the students do the community mapping project that I mentioned in the previous post. We divided the students up into 3 groups and they each had to draw a map of Sangeorz and then explain it to the class and tell us about the points of interest. We then had the students  participate in some blind relay races. We, as counselors, even challenged the kids and said we could do the course faster in Romanian than they could in English. We were wrong. Melissa was blindfolded and I was giving directions and we ended up in 3rd place (out of 4). The winning team had a time of 5:22. After they had some more practice of giving very precise directions, we had them each write out specific directions from 1 of their points of interest to another. Since we didn’t have enough time at the end of the day to see how valid the directions were, we will be doing this tomorrow.

After camp, the 4 of us went back to my apartment, made lunch and spent the rest of the day planning today’s lesson which was the most challenging to plan and to facilitate. Around 3pm we headed to the museum with Mary and Loredana which i absolutely love. My town definitely has a hippie/artsy vibe to it and the Museum of Contemporary Art is probably the staple of that  aura.

Today’s lesson was about Gender Roles and Stereotypes. It was a little bit harder than the previous days but the kids did a great job. Melissa started off with a lesson on media and showing how much information she dug up on some of the students through facebook. We then facilitated a discussion about colors, toys, and games. What colors are for boys, girls, same went for toys and games. This conversation brought up some interesting view points. We continued with this lesson and went into stereotypes. We had the students write what they think a stereotype is or an example of one. We got a lot of great responses which facilitated even more conversation. The next activity the students did was a collage. Each group was given a piece of paper that listed some things that a specific person liked to do and that group had to draw a collage about that person and then write if they thought the person was a male or female.  Within the 4 groups of students, 3 groups thought they were drawing things for a male and 1 group thought they were drawing things for a female. We talked about why the students thought they were drawing for a male or female and then we revealed that each one of those lists belonged to one of the counselors. When each counselor stood next to his/her collage, the students noticed they were only correct 25% of the time. Jeremy’s collage said that it depicted a male which included things like soccer, tennis, cooking, and apple products. Anthony’s collage said that it depicted a female which included philosophy, talking, playing the saxophone, poetry, and soccer. Melissa’s collage said it depicted a male because she liked things like fixing cars, watching baseball, reading, wearing tall socks, and baking. My collage was for a male because the things I liked included watching baseball, playing Ultimate Frisbee, watching star wars, fixing things, and traveling. Even though our collages that things that were both typically “masculine” and “feminine” it was interesting to see that the groups decided to err on the side of masculine. The next item on the agenda was an “agree and disagree” exercise where the students would stand to one side if they agreed with the written comment or disagreed. Some of the statements that were presented for this was “I would date a gypsy”, “It is okay for 2 men to kiss in public”, “It is okay for 2 women to kiss in public” It is okay for a man to hit a woman”, “It is okay for a man to cheat on a woman”, “It is okay for a woman to cheat on a man” and etc. Some of the thoughts were very interesting and definitely sparked conversations and debates about the subjects which was very nice to see. We ended the day off with a role play. We had two boy/girl pairs that had to act like the opposite sex in a specific scenario. They had 3 different lines written on pieces of paper with them and when instructed, were told to read the lines out loud and to continue to use them within the conversation. This was a good and humorous way to end the day.

There are a few things that I will do differently next time but for the most part, it was a very educational day. The students left with a lot of food for thought and I’m hoping I got them thinking about gender roles and how large of a part they play in everyone’s lives.

I haven’t been taking any pictures or videos of the camp but luckily the other PCVs have so, thanks to Jeremy and Anthony, we have proof that this camp has been taking place 🙂 Below you will find some videos of the activities and the link to the album. I would like to point out that if you watch the blind obstacle race with Melissa and I, i should drept inapoi at the end which actually means straight backwards…I meant to say straight forwards but I apparently don’t work well in Romanian under pressure. At least the kids got a kick out of my lack of Romanian skills.

Click Here for Pictures!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

Ce?!?

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So after a month of procrastination, I have finally mustered up enough motivation to start learning Romanian. Coincidentally, I got an email this week from my favorite travel blog, matadornetwork.com listing the top 9 easiest languages for an English speaker to learn and Romanian was NUMBER NINE! WOOHOO! This eased my nervousness about the language a little bit until i started studying.

I’ve realized that with the random mix of languages that I know/am familiar with, I tend to confuse them. Serbian was my first language which I am fluent in and as you can see, I am also fluent in English. I studied Spanish for 4 years in highschool which doesn’t amount to much considering I would try to distract our teacher for the entire period with random topics of conversation. My record was 42 minutes discussing Michael Jackson. I also took a semester of German in college which is where I realized I tend to mix languages. When I first started learning German, or at least first started attempting to learn it, I would confuse Spanish, Serbian, and German grammar rules. Now trying to learn Romanian, I’ve found myself attempting the same things. In a way, the vocab is easier because there are a lot of similarities with Spanish since they are both romance languages and there are some Slavic influences within Romanian that I can pick up on as well. It is basically starting to be a big mess of languages that I am praying I can distinguish between soon.

My cousin Danijela was helping me study the other day and I told her how our placement is based on how well we master the language and her response was “well…expect to be placed in a very tiny village” so that is the current running joke….hopefully my language won’t be TOO awful by the time I’m done with pre service training :/

I guess I just have to take one day at a time and hopefully the submersion will greatly speed up the learning curve. On that note, I’m going to utilize the few words that I have learned and say noapte buna (goodnight)!