Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Academic Honesty & Positive Reinforcement Seminar

Last Thursday, my site mates and I facilitated a seminar for the English Teachers in our area. The topic was Academic Honesty and Positive Reinforcement. We weren't sure how many teachers would come because the seminar was announced by the director of education only two days beforehand, however, 23 teachers from the area ended up coming!
Adam and I led the first part about Academic Honesty. I was a bit worried about this one because it is a really touchy topic here in Moldova, and it's a topic that every education volunteer works with and has to deal with. We discussed with the teachers the different reasons students have for cheating/copying, the reasons we as teachers allow it, some ways to combat it, and the consequences for students, teachers, and Moldova as a whole. Most of the teachers agreed that this is a problem, but that there is no way for them to work on it.
After that session, there was a quick break of tea, coffee, and cookies. This is always the favorite part of every teacher at the seminars!
When the break was over, Alex and I led a session about positive reinforcement. This was informative for the teachers because none of them had ever heard of it. Even in America, the issue of positive reinforcement vs. punishment is discussed quite a bit, so it was great to address it here where positive reinforcement is unknown. The teachers liked this portion much more than the Academic Honesty part.
Feedback was good. The teachers liked the seminar overall and want us to do more in the future. Yay!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Easter Part 2 - Paste Blajinilor

Paste Blajinilor is my favorite celebration in Moldova. It translates to "Easter of the Dead." I know at first, that may sound a little weird, and initially I thought so, too. But as I said, it is my favorite celebration.

On May 1st, my host family and I went up north and crossed into Ukraine into a small village called Dranita where my host dad is from. We immediately went to the cemetery and started to prepare. The graves usually have a bench or table nearby for this very tradition. Host mom set up plates of food along with some homemade wine on the table while host aunt prepared gifts for the departed relatives (host dad's parents and grandpa). The gifts usually include towels, dishes, candy, and toys. These gifts are for the loved ones to use in the afterlife. We hung out for a while eating until the priest came. Along with the priest were several men holding crosses and flags of the church. The priest read off a list of names given to him by people in the cemetery of the departed loved ones and then sprinkled holy water over everyone. After this, people give away the gifts to other people in the cemetery. I was given some dishes, a bucket, cookies, and a towel. The day was very nice and I got a nice tan on my face.

May 2nd, we went to host mom's village, Badragii Vechi. There we met up with relatives who only come up for this occasion, so it was great to see everyone. We went to the cemetery, but it was cloudy and cold; I would not be getting a tan face today. The same thing happened at this cemetery, too. The priest came around with the cross holders, blessed everyone with holy water, and read the list of names of the deceased. We stayed at the cemetery for several hours talking and reuniting with everyone until it started to rain.

List of names of the deceased

We then went to the host grandparents' house and ate. I had a few shots of homemade wine and vodka in me, so I decided it would be a good idea to give a toast in Romanian. Host grandma almost started crying and said she didn't even know I could speak Romanian. (I've been here for 2 years and she didn't know I could speak... hmm... I guess I'm just too nervous to speak to people in Romanian!) But it turned out well, I ate a lot, and the day was done. This will be one of the things I miss most about Moldova.