Tag Archives: teaching

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!

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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!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

Romanian School System

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Mary came over the other night and we got into a long discussion about the Romanian school system and how it works and what not so here are some facts that I have learned.

  • School starts September 15th
  • First break is from Christmas which starts December 23rd and will go until January 15th. This is different from previous years. Before, Christmas break would only be 2 weeks and then there would be another break somewhere in February that classified as the semester break. The Ministry of Education has decided to get rid of that break and extend Christmas and I think spring break a week.
  • School ends sometimes in June
  • Students choose what area they would like to specify their studies in. These are usually broken down by Math/IT, Philology(Social Sciences), Languages, etc. (my school is kind of different is this respect)
  • Each grade level is broken up into A,B,C,D, and the letters continue depending on how large the highschool is. The letter of the group the student is in usually depends on the student’s intelligence. The smartest kids get into the A group, next is the B group and so on. So within the Math/IT specialization there is 9A,9B,9C,9D,10A,10B, and so on. then there is  Philology 9A,9B,etc. After the year is over 9A becomes 10A, 10A becomes 11A and so on. I know that movement within the groups does occur but I don’t believe it happens very often. (my school is different in this respect as well)
  • Since my high school is fairly small, the specializations and the letter groups are paired together. In my school the A group is Math/IT, the B group is Philology, the C group is Chemistry/Bio and the D group is Economics. Since the Math/IT specialization is said to be the most difficult, the best students usually tend to gravitate for that one and going into their freshman year, they choose to go into 9A. Philology is said to be the next in terms of difficulty and therefore that is 9B. The next two is where it gets a little confusing. Chem/Bio is 9C but I was told that in general, 9D(Econ) has better students compared to 9C which is Chem/Bio. I was confused as to how Chem/Bio could be the “least smart” group of people when neither of those sciences are easy and I was told that  although that is their specialization, the other groups, especially A, has more intensive bio and chem classes than the bio and chem specialization does. Some things I just don’t fully understand.
  • Students are not required to take an entrance exam to get into colleges within the country such as our SAT or ACT
  • At the end of their senior year, students are required to take the Baccalaureate which is in some ways a comparable to our final exams. The bac. encompasses everything the students have learned and these are one of the main things that colleges look at.
  • Admittance into colleges depends heavily on one’s grades since it is a rating system. The students with the best grades can secure their spots and then those that are left open are available for the next category of students with lower grades and so on.
  • In college, the number of credits a class is worth is not hour based like it is in the states but importance based. The most important classes for a student that are mandatory for his/her major can be worth 6 or 7 credits, while other classes that are also mandatory for one to graduate but don’t necessarily encompass elements of the student’s major might be worth 4 or 5 and so on.

I think that’s about all I can recall from our conversation. Hope I remember everything correctly!

Aside

My first week at site has passed in a flash. Starting from day one when i nearly flooded my apartment, I feel as though I have already come a long way. I’ve been hanging out with both of my counterparts quite a bit and they have definitely been amazing when it comes to welcoming me into the city.

Thursday night I went for a walk with Loredana (my community counterpart that knows no English) and she showed me throughout the city. Despite our obvious language barrier, we have hit it off from the beginning and get along very well.

Friday, my English teaching counterpart, Mary showed me around town a little bit. She showed me where the police station was, the post office, bank, and where the Friday market takes place. After my errands with Mary, Loredana and her husband (whom is the gym teacher) had me over for an amazing lunch that consisted of baked chicken, mashed potatoes, and roasted carrots. The appetizer was vișinata (cherry brandy) and the desert was beer. Couldn’t have asked for a better meal! The company was fabulous and we talked a lot about mainly me, my past, why I chose to be a volunteer. Ya know, the usual questions I expect to get asked at least 1,000 times more.

Saturday I planned to just hang out in my PJs all day since the morning was very gloomy and my power was going in and out. Around 3pm, Mary called me and asked if I wanted to go on a bike ride with her, since I will refuse no invitation that is within my control, I naturally obliged.  Mary, her boyfriend Danny, his neighbor and I headed north on our journey. After an extremely bumpy yet picturesque bike ride, we ended up at a little picnic site where we joined a handful of their friends. We hung out at the site, grilling, talking, and shooting bows and arrows (which proved to be very difficult for my finger tips). When we were about to leave, the group put one last thing on the grill so naturally, when I found out it was rabbit, we had to stay and wait till the meat was done so I could taste it. After what seemed like an hour, the rabbit was finally done and I got a chance to try this adorable, fluffy, and EXTREMELY tasty creature. All I have to say is thank god the meat was already prepared and cut up so I didn’t have to witness the gory stuff.

Today was my official be a bum day. Once again, it rained and I didn’t do much of anything. Mary came over around 5pm to discuss the English day camp that we will be holding for the high school students during the first week of August. I have the next week to plan a whole day camp from scratch, hopefully I think of something! I’ve already gotten about 4 volunteers to commit to helping out at my camp so I’m happy that I’ll be able to see my friends and if it crashes and burns, at least I’ll have some people with me 🙂

In other news, my gazda family called me up the other day and told me that they will be visiting some family in Târgu Mureș, which is about 2 hours south of me and planned to stop by Sangeorz for a day to visit me. I am so ecstatic and that is a HUGE gesture that they are coming to visit. I guess I must have left at least somewhat of a good impression. Denisa plans on staying with me for the remainder of the week which im very excited about and have already started planning what we will do and where we will go.

Starting tomorrow, the rest of my summer will be quite busy and I’m so excited about it!  I haven’t done much this week and although it was a nice change of pace, i’m over it. I can’t sit around for too long with nothing to do so even though planning the summer camp will be hectic, i’m ready for it!

Until next time,

Va pup!

One Week Down

Sangeorz-Bai

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Site announcements were today and man was it interesting. The staff did a great job setting up the school’s cantina for us. They decorated it with American flags, banners, and streamers. They set the announcements up like the Emmy’s so it was really fun to watch. My site is called Sangeorz-Bai. From the information I have gathered, it is a town of about 11,000 people. I will be teaching at the theoretical highschool and they have a lot of extra curriculars like Junior Achievement, entrepreneurship classes, and several ecotourism initiatives. The town is known as a spa town due to it’s 8 different mineral baths so It should be very nice. It’s in the foothills of the Carpathians and I’ve heard it’s absolutely beautiful. Walking up all those hills should give me an ass like JLo’s by the time my 2 years are up! Below is a little video I took of the adorably decorated cantina.

 

 

It was a very emotional day and, naturally, I cried. I didn’t cry because I was so happy to receive the highschool of my choice or what sounds like such an amazing location. I cried because I am sad. I am sad to leave this family that I have become a part of with my fellow trainees. I know, it’s so typical of me, but I just can’t help it. I value relationships with people so much that I know I’m going to be homesick for PST and Targoviste.

 

Enough of the emotional stuff, here are some facts that came within my packet:

  • I will have my own apartment
  • School Name: Liceul Teoretic “Solomon Halita”
  • Teaching 16 hours a week
  • Class size of about 25
  • Might be teaching a history content course
  • Extracurricular activities: English Film Club, Baccalaureate prep classes, small business practice firms, junior achievement
  • They want to start the school newspaper back up and have an English section
  • Job market classes

All in all I’m ecstatic for my high school and site. It’s the one that I really wanted when they mentioned it to me in my site interview and I’m happy I got it. I am going to be in the most picturesque part of the country and I just can’t wait to go visit it this weekend.

 

Our counterparts come in on Saturday and then on Sunday night we will be traveling to my new site for a few days!

 

I Just Got Flashed by a 2nd Grader

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Today was my first day teaching in our new practicum school which is a “middle school” but really it has what seems to be all the grades up to 8 in it. I was in charge of teaching the 2nd grade class about clothing. The kids start learning English in the 3rd grade but they have the option of starting in the 2nd grade so I taught the “optional” class. I brought in a bunch of clothing items to help teach the words. The students really got a kick out of the dress and my scarf. Everyone wanted to wear the scarf..i’m not sure why. After going around the room and asking them what it was, I taught them a song about clothes to help them remember to the tune of “head, shoulders, knees, and toes” but it was “hat, tshirt, jeans, and shoes” They absolutely loved the song and picked up on it instantly. I didn’t have to repeat it at all and by the end they were singing it by themselves without my help. Since these activities ended up being shorter than planned, I also had them draw what they wear during the weekend since they are in uniforms at school and had a few kids come up and tell the class what they draw. I ended the session with a short game of SLAP where i wrote the words on the board in English and said it to them in Romanian and they had to compete against another student to find the word and slap it. It was definitely much more interesting teaching primary school as opposed to high school but i really enjoyed it. I’m sure my high energy and just flat out goofyness. The last class in the day was cut short due to the “carnival” the school was having to celebrate the 1st of June which is Children’s day. We got to see some of the students participate in the costume contest which was adorable. When we got back to the classroom, a girl that participated in the costume contest came in late and started stripping in class. No joke… her top was open…she took it off changed her shirt and her bottoms as well. CULTURE SHOCK. I have seen little kids running around the beach without a top on but never imagined that it would happen in school….WOW. That’s all I’ve got for today. Until next time! TE PUP!

Carnavalul Florilor

Some of the kids waiting for the contest to start

Cute!

Rooster

Adorable

Typical Romanian Garb

My walk home on the gorgeous "Old Blvd"

The one of many gorgeous houses on the old blvd.

Another one

Jovankai îi Plac Lei și Vodca

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Once again, the weekend came and went in the blink of an eye but it was thoroughly enjoyed nonetheless. Friday was our last day of practicum at our current high school and it was definitely bittersweet. I really enjoyed teaching our classes and getting to know the students and of course our mentor teacher Monica. It was a great experience to watch her teach because you can see that she truly cares for her students and is very passionate about teaching.  Since the normal school schedule was altered this Friday due to an appearance by the mayor of the city along with a creative writing awards ceremony, we didn’t teach. While the mayor was giving his speech to the teachers, my teacher was telling me some interesting facts about our practicum school and how after communism the population dropped and now many high schools are starting to consolidate and close down due to the smaller number of classes. With this, there are many jobs that will be cut and so on. I never really thought about these types of changes that the end of communism caused and how, 20 years later, they are finally starting to come forth.I also experienced my first form of culture shock at the school that day. My training group and I were standing out side of our classroom admiring some of the students artistic abilities. Kevin and i were discussing something while 2 of our freshman walked by us. As they walked by, they both stared right into Kevin’s eyes and said “Kiss, Kiss…te pup!” Our mouths dropped…. Yes Kevin is a young teacher and our school has mainly girls in it. I never expected any of the students to have that much courage to so blatantly hit on a teacher. We were both left speechless for several minutes after that and it was just another reminder that we are definitely not in Kansas anymore.

After language class we did the typical PCT thing of going to the blue bar and then heading out to dinner after that. I was fairly tired so Jeremy-WB and I walked home around 10pm. When I got to my house, I was very excited to get into bed and just relax but naturally, that didn’t happen. Denisa was in the process of getting ready to go out to a Romanian hip/hop concert at a local club that was made to resemble a castle. She ended up talking me into joining so i quickly changed, put on some make up, and headed out the door. When we pulled up to the club, I was definitely amazed. I wish i would have gotten a picture of it but it was pretty remarkable. The outside was designed to look like a castle, towers, doors, armor and all.  The inside was beautifully decorated. The walls were made of stone and made to look like the inside of a dungeon. There were 3 floors with very posh looking tables and couches as far as the eye could see.

Most of my night was spent sipping on my drink and people watching. If you have seen the movie Euro Trip, you can picture what this very typical Eastern European club looked like. There were topless dancers, whom no one really paid attention to that also baffled my mind. My favorite aspect of this club was the music selection. Before the main act came on, the DJ mainly played what sounded like Romanian techno. About 20 minutes before the rapper came on stage, the DJ switched to American music and I couldn’t help but laugh. The selection started off with songs from the 80s/90s with Ice, Ice, Baby and Hammertime. It then progressed into some Missy Elliot and Not wanting to lose your love tonight. The last song right before the main act was, I kid you not, Carl Orf’s Carmina Burana. For those of you that are not aware. carmina Burana is one of my favorite musical pieces. It is centuries old and was originally written and performed by Benedictine Monks. Anyways, this song came on…it is a very deep and ominous piece and i was so shocked I didn’t know whether to laugh out loud or cry. The crowd went wild. Everyone threw their hands up in the air and jammed to, not a techno remix, but the original song. Listen to the song below and picture myself along with 500 Romanian youth, rocking out at a rap concert to this song. Priceless.

Saturday was a lot more tame. It was Jeremy-WB’s 31st birthday and since he is one of the people that I consider myself the closest to within our group I decided to make him a birthday cake, with the help of my Gazda mom, naturally. Since I apparently lack the creative ability and soft touch to make a cake look pretty, I was given the grunt work. I cut up the fruit aranged it within the cake and frosted the inside of the cake. Basically I did everything that would not be seen. Luckily my host mom is very creative and together, with my cutting skills, and her creative imagination, we successfully made a quite tasty cake.  Since the weather this weekend was nothing but sunny, we decided to head to the park again and just hang out. There was about 15 of us and we played uno, soccer, talked, listened to music, and just had a great time. After many hours in the sun, a smaller group of us decided to stop by a local restaurant and get some dinner. We found their wine list, saw how cheap bottles of wine here and noticed that this particular restaurant carried my favorite type of wine which made me that much happier.  The wine in this country is usually arranged by color and sweetness, no names. If you know exactly what you like and what you don’t you can go about ordering a glass of wine but it is very rare that you will get the same rose semi-sweet wine at different restaurants. After dinner we took a stroll to the park where we hung out and eventually got serenaded by some locals with a guitar. Below is the video (actually more like audio) of the PCTs and Romanians singing along.

This morning, I was woken up by my host father screaming which I assumed to be profanities and I had no idea why. Denisa came running into the house and grabbed something and said “I need this for the chickens, the dog bit one of them”…..WHAT?!?!?!?! Apparently Ion, my host dad bought who I call Mamasita, my host grandmother a bunch of chickens. I assumed he bought some to take with us when we went to go visit her to cook on the grill. When I get into the car….I hear something moving and realize that the chickens Ion bought were still alive….the story was finally pieced together. The whole 20 minute ride I kept on hearing the chickens squawking and flapping around in the trunk. Wow…

The rest of the day was spent in the country side at gma’s house hanging out in the sun and walking through the garden. Now it’s off to do more Romanian homework! Until next time, te pup!