Category Archives: PST

The End of The Beginning

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As of 1pm (Romanian) Thursday, I am an official Peace Corps Volunteer. I have joined the ranks of the previous 1100 volunteers that have served in this amazing country. The PCTs and our host families hopped on a bus at 8:30am yesterday morning and headed to the American Ambassador’s house in Bucharest for our swearing in ceremony.  The ceremony started around 11am with a speech by our Country Director, Sheila.  After Sheila, Mark Gitenstein, The American Ambassador to Romania addressed us, followed by the Romanian Head of Foreign Affairs.  Two of our fellow volunteers, Kevin and Andrea, also prepared speeches which they presented in both English and Romanian.

 

The entire ceremony was amazing and very emotional for me. This entire week I have been randomly crying out of sheer joy, fear, and sadness. I am so excited to finally get to wear my Peace Corps Romania pin since after all, it took me about a year and a half to get if you count the application process.  I am so scared about going to site and about being far away from my support network and the people that have become my family. They have picked me up when I was down, made me laugh, cry, and think. I am also scared about my future two years. I hope that I will be a successful volunteer and make an impact in my community and leave with a legacy.  And finally, I am sad to leave PST.  Everyone complains how difficult PST is but it honestly was an amazing experienced. I enjoyed everything about it, well minus some technical sessions. I have fallen in love with my host family and even the dirty little city of Targoviste with it’s vagabond dogs, communist blocs, and shaorma stands on every corner. It will be extremely difficult to say goodbye to the wonderful people that have taken me into their home and have become my friends and mentors within my community.

 

After swearing in, we were taken to the Peace Corps Office and received a tour and then were let loose. Those who chose to go back to Targoviste on the bus did while a group of about 12 of us stayed to hang out in Bucharest for the night. We got to roam the city a bit, see some of the architecture, and hang out with the PCVLs along with some older volunteers.

 

We returned back to Targoviste around 3pm today, exhausted, sweaty, and excited to depart for our sites this weekend. I have been packing for the last few hours and am getting ready to depart on a 4:09am train to Moldova for a GLOW(Girls Leading Our World) camp with one of my group 28ers, Ester, and a few of the older volunteers who are the ones running the camp. We will be camping in a little village for a week with a group of Romanian teenage girls. After the camp, I will finally depart on my 9 hour overnight train ride without a cuseta (sleeping car) to my village. I should return back to civilization by the 17th and will update everyone on the GLOW camp then.

 

Until Next Time.

Va Pup!

 

Suntem Voluntarii

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LPI Rating

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Today we receive our LPI (Language Proficiency Interview) scores. How the rating goes is Novice Low, Novice Mid, Novice High, Intermediate Low, Intermediate Mid, Intermediate High, Advanced Low, Advanced Mid, Advanced High, Superior Low, Superior Mid, Superior High. The PC requires us to be at an Intermediate Low which means you can form coherent sentences, string together verbs,and use, for the most part, correct grammar by the time we swear in. Superior is synonymous with fluent.

 


We also received our diplomatic ID cards and it was stressed to us that we DO NOT have diplomatic immunity.

 

A Weekend to Remember

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Since this was our last week in classes, everything has been starting to wind down and even though we were thoroughly practicing for our upcoming LPI exams, we definitely had a lot more fun than usual. Tuesday, a group of us got together for “Seara cu Taco” or Taco night which was such a great success!

 

Friday we had our last day of language classes which were followed by a TALENT SHOW! Below are the videos.

 

Grant and the gang from Hawaii doing a hula

 

Some of the neighborhood children joined us

 

Whitley wrote a beautiful poem about our experience so far.

 

Matt’s Chewbacca Impression

 

Octavian, one of the language instructors, making up a song on the spot.

 

Saturday, Theron and Sarah’s gazda family threw all the volunteers a big party. It started at 3pm and went well into the night. It was an amazing time and a great chance to hang out with all the volunteers for our last weekend in Targoviste. There was a grill, drinks, and even a dj and waiter were hired.

 

Sunday we put on a 4th of July party in honor of all of our gazda families which ended up being a HUGE success! We created a pot luck so we would have enough food which inadvertently started a gazda cook off competition with several gazda moms trying to cook the best dish. We had face painting, a covrigi eating contest for the kids, seed spitting contest, water balloon toss, frisbee, and even a local Romanian folklore group came to perform for the guests. Sheila, our country director, spoke a little bit and thanked all the gazda families for taking us into their homes and helping us assimilate to our host country. They were all given certificates of appreciation along with some Peace Corps swag which they really appreciated.

 

This next week is going to be filled with many ups and downs. Tomorrow our LPI language exams start, followed by the swear in ceremony on Thursday at the American Ambassador’s house in Bucharest. Friday people will start saying their goodbyes as they begin departing for their sites.

All Good Things Come to an End

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There isn’t much to say other than we are the legacy group. The Peace Corps has decided to pull out of Romania after my service. Read the article below. It is very bittersweet for all of us.

 

 

http://www.romania-insider.com/peace-corps-to-end-its-program-in-romania-by-2013/27419/

Slow Week

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After the hustle and bustle that started with counterpart conference, I am more than thrilled to say that this week was quite mundane and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. Getting back into the language groove after site visits was fairly difficult for the group as a whole. At least one person in my class was “off” every day and we just felt defeated most of the time. Friday we had a practice LPI exam which we were told mimics very closely what we will see in our exams in a week. I felt I did alright but definitely not nearly up to my potential. I find it difficult that our language skill can be measured in a 20 minute conversation discussing and comparing our families and our cities and then having us ask some questions to the interviewer, but oh well. We find out tomorrow how we fared and that will help me gauge how much I need to study this upcoming week.

 

There isn’t really much to update all of you on. There was a music festival in town this weekend so my nights were spent in the center then followed by nachos at the Celt ( it’s the little piece of America that we all crave every weekend). My host family took me to the salt mines in Prahova County today and that was definitely a new experience. I didn’t really know what to expect but when we got down there, my business loving side was blown away. The county has created quite the money make with this salted underground cavern. On top of paying an entry of 14lei per person, there is a snack bar, gift shop area, a few scooter type rides, a section of twin beds that can be rented out, ping pong tables, and pool tables all that cost money. I would have never expected to see either of the latter 200 meters below ground but they are there and they seem to be cash cows.

 

The story behind this mine is that it was used between 1943-1970 before the “new” mine was built close by. The total excavated space occupies about 3 million meters cubed and has a depth of 208 meters which the dinky little elevator spans in 90 seconds. The mine temperature is a constant 12 degrees Celsius year around.

 

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Back To The Grind

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After an amazing week at site, the last thing any of us wanted to do was go back to technical and language sessions. Luckily, the PC Staff was already very well aware of this and took it easy on us. We had a site visit debrief in the morning and then the self picked language/cultural sessions started after lunch. These types of sessions are so much easier to handle than regular classes because we get to choose what we get to learn and when talking about the cultural aspects, the classes are all in English so it’s a nice break from being forced to speak Romanian. Friday night was filled with the usual activities of  getting dinner and then hanging out in the center.

Saturday was one of my favorite days so far. I spent the early afternoon having a picnic in the park, eating avocado and cheese sandwiches and listening to music. The picnic was followed by a peer support session which was for the two new peer support people of our group and anyone else who wanted to join. Peer support is basically just like it sounds. These people are the ones that the groups elects as the people whom the individuals of the group feel the most comfortable contacting about any issues we may be having. The session was followed by a group dinner and then a night spent in the park. It was so nice to just sit in the park and hang out with the volunteers in my group and the many others that came into town for the weekend.

Sunday I woke up fairly early and got ready for a new adventure. Theron and Sarah’s host dad offered to take them and two of their friends up to the Bran Castle outside of Brasov. For those of you that are not aware, Bran Castle was the alleged home of none other than the famous Dracula. The 3 hour car ride was absolutely beautiful and when we got to Bran I was stunned. The castle is MUCH bigger than I expected it to be and we had a lot of fun trying to figured out the layout of it and what floor we were on at any given point in time. After getting very little sleep all weekend, I was ready to crash as soon as I got home. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depends on how you look at it, this country has a spell on me and I can’t fall asleep until very late and I still manage to wake up very early. I decided to head to the center and meet up with a friend. We hung out a little bit and then went to one of the cafe’s where I met up with my host family. Coincidentally enough, the PCVLs were sitting at a table right next to them so it was nice to hang out with them and get to know the PCVLs a little bit better.

Hopefully I rest up this week because my host family already planned out most of the upcoming weekend for me!

Until next time, VA PUP! (ljubim vas/kisses to you all)