We've been having a lot of masas lately. Masas are basically huge dinner parties. Last weekend was my host sister's 18th birthday. We had a bunch of relatives over, and we celebrated until quite late at night. As usual since it was a Moldovan party, we ate and ate, and drank even more. My favorite dish, besides the sarmales, is a salad made of mayonnaise, chicken breast, cheese, and dried bread crumbs. It sounds too simple, and it is, but it's so dang tasty! Last night we had another masa, this time for my host sister's friends from school. My host parents left, so I stayed to chaperon (although they didn't put it that way. I was "getting to know her friends," which was fine anyway.) The first course was served at around 4:30, the second at about 7:00, desserts followed at 10:00, and a second round of desserts at 10:30. I came home tonight from planning with my partner and another masa was taking place. My family likes to party!
My partner teacher/best friend in Moldova is rockin. She's probably one of the coolest people in Moldova, and she has by far the cutest kids. This is them in the picture above, Nastea and Catea, giving me a make-over. Every Tuesday and Thursday after school, Natalia, my partner, and I go to her house to hang out and eat before we tutor some girls together at their house. Throughout these times, I've gotten to be fairly close with her family, including her mother and father who she lives with, and her husband. I've helped her mother make colţunaş, which is basically a type of Ravioli with either a cheese or potato mixture in it.
I met a really cool kid, Roma, who is a Moldovan high school senior that did a foreign exchange program with the United States for a year. Last year he was in Colorado for a year, and now because of that, he speaks the best English of any Moldovan I know. He uses phrases like:
"Oh my God," "You know, like," and "I fricken' love it."
Totally American and I love it!
Anyway, he is in class with my host sister, and from her he got my number and called me to come speak about education in America to a youth group he is in called SALVE. This group is amazing and I hope I can become a part of it within my time here in Moldova. It's a group that does peer mentoring for youth and young families. They teach about AIDS/HIV, Tuberculiosis, and other stuff which I must find out! They also give out free condoms which is an awesome thing because safe sex is not particulary concentrated upon in this area. The picture above is of me and some of the kids in the group. Like I said, I hope I can work with them in the future, and I will update if I do!
Thanksgiving was three days ago, and I was here in Moldova. It was a particular frustrating day because I wasn't home with my family eating turkey and having the day off. Instead, I was here in Moldova teaching like it's a normal day. I'd never really been thankful for Thanksgiving when I was in the states, but being here, I realize I really am truely thankful for it. It's a time when I can be with my family! However, my host family here did a great job of making me feel good. Someone from home sent some boxes of Stove Top Stuffing which I made for my host family, and we had leftover turkey from my host sister's birthday party. Along with that, we had rooster jelly (which is as gross as it sounds... chicken boiled in water for 4 hours, taken out to be chilled, at which point the water turns into a jello that tastes like chicken noodle soup, and it's cold. Gross.) and pickled tomatoes (which I have grown to love!) And of course don't forget the house wine! Mmm tasty!
In true Thanksgiving fashion, I am thankful for:
*awesome family and friends back home who supported me when I told them I was joining the Peace Corps, and continue to support me to this day
*emails, letters, and packages. Even if you think the email is stupid, it's not! It really makes me happy!
*a great program manager here in Moldova who has my back when times are tough
*Makoto for burning me dvd's of UND hockey games and Mom for sending them
*a partner teacher who actually wants to work with me, enjoys working with me, and can speak English!
*Sally for teaching me to knit; Moldovans think I'm so cool because I can knit!
*Mom, because she is amazing and always calls me back even though it's super expensive, because she sends me packages with dvd's, snacks, home-made salsa, and other important necessities that I can't buy here in Moldova (you know what I'm talking about, yes mom?) because she sits on the phone (still expensive) while I cry about hating Moldova for a half hour then call back the next day about how I love it, and because she's my rock. Without her, I wouldn't be here.