Ветер дует, листья кружит:  Wind Blows, Leaves Twirls.

Friends, Family, Unknown Readers,

Hello.

So I am in the new town.  I am done with Pre Service Training.  I have taken an oath to defend the US constitution and love my fellow Moldovan, and I am officially a Peace Corps Volunteer.  Wohooo!!!

A lot has gone on in the last two weeks, and to explain those events I recorded a little video that will be linked below.  Also, below, you will find some pictures of some of what happened; and while I have no pictures yet from the US Embassy, you can sort of see what it was like in the news broadcast that is also linked below.

I also just learned how to make a slide-show in wordpress, which I think is rather snazzy.  The first few photos are from the celebration of a Resource (Teaching) Teacher’s birthday; the next are from Practice School; the following are from my new home — all outdoor photos; and it ends with some photos I stole off other people’s facebook pages, pictures of me from a few events.

Thanks for taking an interest, and if you have any questions about what you see, leave me a comment.

All my love,

Ben

The Video Blog, please excuse it being sideways:

The Broadcast of Peace Corps Swearing In, 5 o’clock, Romanian:

The Broadcast of Peace Corps Swearing in, 7 o’clock, Russian:

Slide-Show:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Hey Ynz, it’s been a long time since I wrote.  Things have been kind of crazy over in Moldova.  About a week after my last post — I think it was a week — I began teaching a summer series of English courses at one of the schools in my training village, Ioloveni.  It’s been an amazing process so far.  Inspiring, tiring, and filled with tons of learning.  I’m excited that already I am actively helping people here in Moldova, and I have not even made it to my site.  The English Teachers just finished their first 7 days of classes, 2 classes a day, teaching a lower grade (for me it was the 7th); and tomorrow I will begin a 7 day series with 11th graders.

10 days ago, everyone one of the Peace Corps English teachers was assigned a “resource teacher” who would monitor, watch, and guide them through teaching our own classes.  Mine has 38 years of experience teaching in Moldova; she speaks English, Russian, Romanian, and a little French.  The first day, I taught one lesson; she taught the next; but after that, the follow six days, it was all Ben in the front of the classroom — with much student presence as well.

My class size ranged from 12 to 23 students on any given day.  The days with fewer students were calmer and more controlled, but with a larger class, I found them to be exhilarating.  It’s not so easy maintaining the attention of 23 twelve-year-olds in the middle of summer when you don’t speak their native language.  But all of us teachers overcame that struggle by working hard outside of class to prepare a large amount of visual aids to make the lessons run smoothly.

The last day, I gave my students a test and then we played games for the last class.  Here are two pictures of us:

There were not so many students on the last day — perhaps because I told them there would be a test — but the class was still a real blast.  I wish I’d taken more pictures, but you all know how hard it is to think of at the time.

Anyways, it was only yesterday that this picture was taken, but after taking down all the pictures I drew and cleaning up all their messes from their desks, I’ve found myself rather nostalgic.  I miss my students.  Teaching is something pretty magical.  The good news is that next Friday, there will be a celebration day where all the students from everyone’s classes comes and we play games and watch movies and eat really tasty — perhaps American — food.

I’d also like to share my average day with you, too.  I am rather proud of it.

5:30 wake up and go for a run or study russian

6:30 shower

7:00 breakfast

8:00 at school prepping classroom

8:30-10:30 Russian classes

11:15 – 12:00 first English class

12:15 – 1:00 second class

1:00 – 2:00 lunch

2:00-5:00 lesson plan with resource teacher

5:00-7:30 type lesson plan and begin making class materials

7:45 print lesson plan at local computer lab

8:15 dinner at home

8:30 resume making lesson materials

10:30 study russian

11:30 bed, perhaps watching a little of a movie

5:30, I’m up again

So, yes, that is my day. Now, though, I don’t know how things are going to go.  In the second half, I will be teaching the 11th grade with my future teaching partner, who is different from my resource partner.  This teaching partner and I will teach together in Anenii Noi for the next two years, somewhere between 6 and 9 hours a week.  I’ve never team taught before, and I’m a little nervous about it.  This is going to require some growth.

Well, I hope, for those who wanted some information, that that was informative.  I will leave by saying that I love Moldova, and this Peace Corps thing is pretty swell.

Also, right now, Pennsic is going on.  Today, right now, at 1:30, I would be on the battle field with 6 bottles of Vitamin Water and the will to kill, the wind blowing through me hair, the sky filled with those majestic Pennsic clouds.  If any of you who understand what I just said are reading this, Kick some ass.

All my love,

Ben

Oh, also!  Amy and Doug about to have a freaking baby!!!

Love, Ben

I should be studying, but I just wanted to share:

I went for a run tonight, and later in the evening than I ever have before. I left the house at about 8:30, when the sunset was at full color.  Because the house guard dog (weighing in at around 9 pounds, standing 7 inches tall, being able to jump about 6 feet off the ground and yap loud enough to make you press your hands over your ears when standing close by) has taken to sleeping on my running shoes and converses, causing them to be infested with fleas, I have begun running in my hiking boots.  As I was headed out to the field, where I’ve established a 30 minute loop I usual run twice, some twelve year oldish kids called me over and we chatted a little, and I showed them Jasiri X on my iphone, and then I continued on to the fields. I ran one lap, halfway through being chased by someone’s dog away from a field, and before beginning the second lap, I stopped to consider going home.  It was getting dark, and the flies and mosquitoes and jumpy critters were coming on strong.  Not knowing when I’d get to exercise again, I continued on, and I ran listening to Pimsleur Russian Lessons.  Eventually I came to the same spot where the dog chased me, but this time it was waiting in the center of the path and began barking before I could easily make out its shape.  Instead of running away, I went up and tried to befriend it – which failed – but the owner came over and we began to chat – in that broken way of “Hello” – “What’s you name?” – “I am from America.” when you can speak very little of their language.  He asked me if I wanted to try Moldovan Peaches, and of course I did, so I walked with him through the orchard for five minutes finding the perfect one.  It turns out that he plays soccer with my host brother (who is currently delivering Peaches to Moscow by Mac Truck).   After eating two peaches, I said that I had to head home, as it was nearly dark now.  I ran the rest of the way home, sprinting through a sea of misquotes in the dark, listening to Rufus Wainwright “Across the Universe,” carrying a gigantic peach in each fist for my host mother, back through twenty minutes of shodowed-out Sunflower, Corn, Peach, and Apple Fields until I came to the back of the village where my host family’s house is.  When I got home, no one was there, and the water to the town was out again.  I went outside to see if there were any buckets of water in the back.  There were none, except those that had been there since I first arrived, filled with algae and nefarious shimmy things, so here I stood, dirty, covered in dead and living bugs, dripping with sweat, at 10 o’clock at night in the dark.  I went around to the side, where I saw a bucket of water from the well.  Ah!  So, I bathed in the back of the house with that bucket of water, which was cold as winter, but wonderful and refreshing.  After toweling off, changing inside, I realized I had to refill the buck.  So this is how, for the first time, I went to a well and filled up a pale of water all by myself.  Walking to the well, the mini-guard dog guarded me the whole way, and as I raised and lowered the pale, he barked at and retreated from all passing cars.  I was surprised how far down the chain went, and I expected that I’d pull up an empty bucket.  But it worked!  I went home.  I filtered the water in a Brita filter, then purified it with an Ultraviolet light, and took a drink.  And that was the end of my evening exercise.

Welcome to Moldova.

Я знаю, что это было давно я опубликовал, и я извиняюсь за это.Корпус мира заставляет нас очень занят.

Yes.  It’s true.

But anyways, I went to visit my permanent site.  I have no pictures for all of you, but I will do my best to convey the place with words.  Anenii Noi, as I said in the previous post, is located thirty, forty, fifty ish minutes to the East of the capitol.  It is the Raion center, meaning that 1/32 of the country has its “county” offices there.  There are two banks, two bars, a tiny pizza shop – though I hear they put mayonnaise on their pizza, which I don’t think I will ever get used to – two disco-techs, three schools, a post office, several statues, both soviet and Moldova, and a little less that 16k people.  The school where I will be working has 750 students, and the building is sturdy but not a lot to look at from the outside.  This is in part due to it being a Russian school, because they do not get their funding from the entire Raion, they only get their funding from the local town.  As Moldova has become politically more Romanian (Moldovaneshte) speaking, and more oriented towards the west, funding and programming for the Russian schools has fallen off.  It seems that, in addition to teaching my 18 hours a week, I may be investing my extra energies in helping to fill the funding void, helping with IT technologies and computer education, and / or sprucing up the extra curricular activities of the school.  They used to have a national debate competition, but that is now, I think, only in Romanian.

The host family where I will be staying with are really wonderful people.  They are both 62, formerly teachers, and very patient and loving.  The husband used to be a musician, but he had an accident, where something fell on his hands, I think, and he can no longer play the violin or the accordion.  He also used to work at a special ed school for young adult with mental disabilities, helping them to prepare and look for jobs.  The mother was an elementary school teacher, and now she works as an inspector for the government, making sure that teachers are up to snuff.  The first morning I had breakfast with them, we looked at pictures of their family and chatted in Russian for around four hours.  Up until that point, the longest conversation I had had lasted no more that seven minutes.  We talked about family, friends, the school, the dream I had the night before, the town, a zoo for some reason . . . all in all, I’m really excited, and I think I am going to be really happy there.

Additionally, the town has a boxing gym.  I’m not sure if I will be able to transition martial weapons fighting into boxing – or if I will be comfortable having my face pummeled – but I am very excited to have a gym where I can be macho and exercise in the long winters.  The walk from my house to the school is about fifteen minutes, down a beautiful, ornate, staircase cut into the hill and past this gym.

All right, I am off to go for a run.  Today, the Russian-Speakers and the Aggro-Business Developers went to the winery in Malecsti Mici (sp?) to visit the largest winery in the world! and I need to run off the free glasses and sober up before I study for the night.

I won’t leave you without some pictures, though.

Kittens Brighten Days

My Buddy Ryne and me infront of an underground waterfall

The Most Beautiful cloud I’ve ever seen, titled Nimbus Eclipsus [sic]!

More of Kitten

The wine cellar

All my love, More to come, including videos of the winery tour,

P.S. If you haven’t notices, I edit none of these posts and have little regard for grammatic or speling.  That’s just the way it’s going to be.

Ben

Unintentionally dramatic photography!!

It has been long, too long, since I last updated the blog.  A lot has gone on in the last two weeks, including several trips to the capitol, lots of language training, and site assignments!

The capitol is a very pretty place.  Trees line every street, and it feels very European — I don’t know why I’d have expected anything else, considering Moldova is in Europe.  Perhaps I could also describe it as being more St. Petersburg than Moscow.

Well, I intended on posting a set of pictures and committing one blog post to the first trip to Chisinau, so I am going to do that now and then get on with everything that has happened since.

Here is the outfit I wore on that fine, adventurous day:

Grooby-Moldovan Mode!

You will note the spiffy hat (which was given to me by Amy and Doug.  Also, in the bottom of the picture is my official Peace Corps name tag that I love and protect.  It has a Moldova flag in the upper corner.

I walk down and up a very large hill everyday, and on that morning, here is something I saw.

Two dogs, many goats.

We traveled in by public transport starting first on Marshootka (phonetic spelling of a Cyrillic word), and then we transferred to trolley.  Again, I am still in Ioloveni, my training site.

маршутка!

This is the primary mode of transportation among Moldovans and Peace Corps volunteers.  There are trains throughout the country too, but they are both slower and more expensive – or that is what I’ve been told.  It’s been said that they will cram up to 70 people into one of these tiny vans, and in Moldova they know of an infectious force called The Current.  The Current can make you sick, and it is caused by having windows open.  So in the middle of summer, the vans fly all over the country, crammed to the point where the suspension stops working, with the windows rolled up.

1

2

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Here are a few photos taken on the walk to the Peace Corps office, where we congregated and split up to do various things in the city.  I wanted to go with the Piatsa / Bazaar group.  And, here, is the Bazaar!:

The Central Piatsa

The Central Piatsa 2

The Central Piatsa 3

The Piatsa is very big and very confusing.  Unlike a grocery store or market, you come here to barter for a better price.  As an American, that means you come here to lose money and practice your Russian or Romanian.  In the pictures you cannot see the food sections, but they are pretty amazing.  I took a video of walking through the fruit section, and I will try to upload it later.

The Chisinau Movie Theater

In the capitol there is one movie theater showing films in Russia with Romanian subtitles.  The politics of language are pretty interesting in Moldova.  As a “Russian Speaker,” that being someone in the Peace Corps learning Russian instead of Romanian (there are 7 Russians 63 Romanian Speakers), we will likely get some flack for coming to Moldova and not learning Moldavian (Romanian).  Already at a bar, I’ve had a few younger, politically-minded men tell me that they wouldn’t speak to me in Russian.  This was in a mostly Romanian speaking Raion, and where I will be placed will be mostly Russian speaking.

A fountain in one of the many parks.

More from a park.

An under-construction building with pretty grafiti.

So, I’ve lost my steam.  In forty-five minutes, I will head to Chisinau again, where I will meet the director of the school at my permanent site.  My bag for the weekend is packed, and I’ll try to take some pictures when possible.  BTW, my permanent site is going to Anenii Noi.  It is a raion center located about 40-50 minutes to the east of the capitol, which is very close.  Buses leave every thirty minutes, should I want to go in, but there will be a lot going on in the raion itself, and in the raion is where I will be doing my work.  The population is about 12k; there is a wiki article on the raion and the raion center, which I would link, but for some reason I can’t get the page to load right now.

All my love, More to come,

Ben

So, here is another set of media that I took while on a jog.  It’s a little different this time though; I took some video shots, and I’ve posted them to youtube.  I would have uploaded them straight onto the blog, but wordpress demands 60 bucks to unlock that function.  So it’s on youtube.

BTW, my brother John asked, “So you’ve been running a lot?”  The answer is, really, no.  I just always have my camera with me when I jog.

The first three links are links to the three videos I took.  The last link is to JFK’s presentation on the founding of the peace corps.  The sound quality on the videos I took is nothing short of horrible.  You’ll have to turn up the volume to hear my voice, threatening to blow out your speakers and ear drums with the screaming wind.  But bear with me until the end; the last minute or two of the third video is super sweet.  That was the first time I explored the abandoned hospital, so the video was a bit thrilling to make.  Since then, I have been using the roof as a private work out space.

Take Care, All my love, More to come,

Ben

So my jar of peanut butter finally ran out, and I feel like my service in the Peace Corps has finally begun.  It’s been just over two weeks since I left for the Peace Corps, and two weeks ago, I was on a bus headed to JFK airport.

The Peace Corps has kept all the volunteers immensely busy.  I wake at 7 and don’t get home until 6 (perhaps this is standard for many of you, but for me it has been a bit of a drastic transition), and after that I have between 3 and 4 hours of studying and various training activities to get done.  At the same time I’m supposed to be integrating, becoming a part of my host family.  Which is all to say, I apologize that the second post has taken so long.  I am eager to share with you what little of Moldova I have seen.  So here are some pictures I took when I went for a run around Ialoveni, my Neighborhood.

A bull in the fields above town.

Here is a bull in the fields above town.  The whole country is fields.  Fields of corn, sunflowers, potatoes, cabbage, etc.  The best kinds of fields are the fields of flowers that are used for bouquets, because when you look at a hill of them, it looks like a surrealist landscape painting.  I have no photos of such fields, but hopefully I’ll get farther away from town where they are with my camera soon.

A father and son walking down the street on Sunday.

Here is a father and son walking down a road in the back of town.  I just looped through the fields and am headed back into town on my run.  Perhaps I chose this photo of all of them to show, because I expect to explain over the course of this blog the way that Moldovans are not all that different from Americans.  At least in their sense of values.  They are obviously in a more dire economic situation, and that has definite effects; and they obviously under soviet rule only 20 years ago…. so maybe they are a little different.  But I’ve already watched TV with my host mother, and downloaded an illegal copy of Madagascar off torrents with my Host-Cousin who is 8.  Here is a picture of him:

Kristy

This is Kristy, who became completely addicted to video games on my computer, and who I fed the last of my peanut butter when I had to baby sit him last Sunday and “cook.”  He is holding a map of my Pre-Service Training Town that me and the Russian volunteers living in the same town made according to one of our daily assignment.  Kristy also went with me on some of my runs, though they often turned into us pretending we were driving cars with nitro buttons or piggy-back rides.

A random text.

So, here is a Random street — back on the run.  You can see a man walking, and he is likely texting on his cell phone.  Not many people have smart phones, but everyone has a cell phone.  If you don’t have a cell phone, you are either over 70 or there is something wrong with you — much like the United States.

A transformer.

This is a transformer.  I feel like this is important to share, perhaps because when you think of the Peace Corps, you think of mud huts.  I don’t live in a mud hut, but I do go to the bathroom in an outhouse regularly and beers do cost about 40 cents here.  A reasonable trade off, I figure.

I landed back on the main street, leading back into the town center.  You can see the local Eastern Orthodox Church.  Just up ahead is one of the many icons to Christ, “Jesus Statues.”

Yep.

lastly, I’ll show some pictures of where I live.  The two men working are my host-cousin, Ura, and a family friend.  The woman in green is my host mother.

Front Gate

Ura and family friend painting a part of the family Mac Truck

The front way.

The backyard where I bathe.

My host mother, Lilly.

And lastly, one more landscape picture of Ialoveni.

Ialoveni from a hill.

Oh, and one more picture of me on my run.

Ben on run.

Don’t let the fact that I’m upside down confuse you, it all seems right-side-up on the other side of the earth.

I miss everyone and everything there, but it’s going pretty swell over here, and the Peace Corps takes really good care of everyone.

All my love,  More to come,

Ben

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