Saturday, April 30, 2011

Easter Part 1

Last weekend was Easter. Easter is one of the more exciting celebrations in Moldova because not only is it one day, but it is in fact a 2 weekends. The first weekend is regular Easter. This year we were supposed to go to the village to stay the night on Saturday with the host grandparents, but something happened where the priest decided to do the service in the neighboring village, and Grandma was sick, so we didn't go.

Anyway.... Amanda's host family invited me to their village for the "Roog" which is a tradition here in the northern part of Moldova. It is basically a big bonfire made out of old tires. Amanda's host uncle was in charge of one of the roogs (everyone can make their own roog, but most of the time families get together to make them.) We climbed up the hill next to Amanda's house and prepared for the roog.

Her uncle and other manly men rolled tires up the hill (which was no easy feat as this is a rather steep hill. I was cheering them on, but I don't think they appreciated it...)

The tires were lit, and the fire started! We sat on the hill for a couple hours drinking homemade wine and vodka and eating meatball type things. There were a couple families included in the roog. From where we were positioned on the hill, we could see several other fires throughout the village. It was really pretty!

Amanda and I were planning on going to church with her host family at 4 in the morning, but neither of us woke up when they came to get us up... While I enjoyed the extra hours of sleep, I really wish I would've woken up as I missed the church service last year, too. I've seen pictures from other people who've gone, and it's a really beautiful tradition. The priest goes around with holy water and blesses everyone along with food they will eat the next day on Easter.

 So I missed the church service and had to wake up early anyway to book it back to Edinet to meet up with my host family so we could go to the village to eat and celebrate with the host grandparents. We left the house at around 10 and went to Badragii Vechi, the grandparents' village. We hung out for a while talking and relaxing and then around noon we ate. It was normal Moldovan celebration food, pretty tasty. We also did the tradition of knocking the dyed eggs against one another to see whose egg was the strongest. Host brother Costel won.

After eating, everyone took a nap. It was great.

When we all woke up, we decided to go for a walk along the Prut River. The river is the border between Moldova and Romanian. The first time I went to the village with the host family, it was illegal for Moldovans to cross the border, and there was barbed wire everywhere guarding the border. Since then, the border has opened, and my family loves going down by the river and exploring. We found a trail leading down to the river and off we went. We walked along the river bank while the host uncle fished.


We walked around and explored for about two hours when we decided to try to find a path leading back up. We found one, but it ended up being a bit sketchy and we had to grab trees and hike our way up. It was pretty impressive seeing my 70 year old host grandma make her way up the trail!

We finally made it back up to the village. Everyone was exhausted, people were thirsty, and a few nylons were ripped; all in all a good hike! We got back to the house and everyone relaxed while drinking cold water and compot (which is a homemade juice.) We left the village around 7, and Easter Part 1 was over.

Tomorrow is Easter Part 2, Easter for the Dead. My host family and I will be going to Ukraine (which sounds exciting but it's only an hour away from my town) to the host dad's home village. There we will go to the cemetery with his sister and brother-in-law, eat, and be blessed by the priest. Monday we will go to Badragii Vechi to meet up with the host grandparents again and go to the cemetery there. This is by far my favorite celebration/tradition in Moldova because it is such a unique way to honor those who have passed. Hopefully I'll update soon so you can read about it.

Friday, April 22, 2011

I Love Easter Cake!

Easter is coming! And along with Easter come Easter cakes! Some people may not like these cakes, but I find them delicious. They are a traditional food here in Moldova that people eat when it is Easter. People either make them home-made or just buy them from the market.
Yesterday outside of my school I was excited to see the annual Easter Market. There was a row of booths with people selling all sorts of things: clothes (lots of underwear for some reason), ducks and other birds, pottery, and Easter Cakes! I went with my partner Natalia to check it out in between breaks and I bought a little cake for 5 Lei. I wanted to eat it right then and there, but she said that was kind of weird and it is more special to eat it on Easter. Sadly I put it uneaten into my bag.
After classes I went with my friend Amanda to check it out again, and I bought another Easter Cake. This one was from a different booth; gotta show them all a little love!
Finally at English Club, I was able to eat both the cakes with my 5th form girls and Amanda. Super tasty. Can't wait for Sunday when I can go crazy with the cakes.

Booth selling Easter Cakes!

Truck with Ducks!

 As for Easter, tomorrow we're going to the village to be with the grandparents. Saturday night at about 11 or midnight is the Easter Church service, which I didn't go to last year because I was sleeping. I told my host mom to make me go this year, though, so hopefully I won't sleep through it again...

Friday, April 15, 2011

Flat Stanley Comes To Moldova

Flat Stanley is a fictional character that many children are familiar with and have fallen in love with. Stanley is the main character in a children's book. In short, it's about a boy whose bullitan board falls on him while he's sleeping and flattens him. (Sounds creepy, but the author does a good job of making it seem cool.) His parents see this as an opportunity to send him to visit his grandparents and other relatives by putting him in an envelope and sending him through the mail.

Now on to the Flat Stanley Project. This project was started in 1994 by a teacher who had his class make their own "Stanleys", write letters to go along with them, and then send them to other states and countries. Read more about the Flat Stanley Project here at the official site:

I did this project when I was student teaching back in college with my second grade class. We had them each decorate their own Stanley, write a letter, and send it to a family member somewhere in the United States. The family members in turn took pictures with the Stanley around famous landmarks and such in their towns and sent them back to the students, sometimes with souvenirs.

I was contacted earlier in the school year by a friend's mom back in North Dakota who is a teacher of a sixth grade class. She was doing the Flat Stanley Project, and she wanted to send them to Moldova. I said of course! Last week I received the envelope full of letters and Stanleys from her class. I was talking to my ex-Romanian tutor/English teacher at another school here in Edinet about the project, and she asked if her class could participate. And again, I said of course!

When Luminita told her class about it, they were so excited! They couldn't believe that they were going to be getting letters from "real American students!!" They also each created their own Stanley's out of posterboard. Some used yarn, fabric, and other supplies while most colored them with markers. Each wrote a letter to accompany their Stanley. (While they were all excited about the letters, they thought the American names were odd! (Jacob, Camryn, Ryan, etc.) Common names here are Sergio, Ana Maria, Marina, Oleg, Costel. ) Along with the letters, Luminita asked a student to draw a map of Moldova which turned out beautifully! We will be sending the package back to North Dakota on Monday, and hopefully it will get there before the school year ends.