Tuesday, September 9, 2008

˝I feel home, when I see the faces that remember my own˝

It is hard to believe that August has come and gone! September for a teacher is the offical end of summer. The old saying ˝Time flies when you are having fun˝ has never been more correct. Some of the highlights of summer 2008 were as follows. Ending my first year of being a teacher was a great and proud feeling. It was an up and down school year to say the least and I do not think I will be winning a teacher of the year award anytime soon, but I had fun and I think the kids had fun as well and learned a thing or two along the way. Spain, was amazing and a place that I will continue to visit as long as am able. However, my time there really reinforced my love for Romania, its culture and how much Poienile Izei has become my ˝home˝ away from home. This past summer I have been schooled and tested in just about every aspect of field work that is done in the village. Bunica (the grandmother of my host family) is a tough teacher but at least with her there is not sugar coating...if you are doing it wrong she will tell you very quickly and loudly and if you are doing it correct she wont say a word. Learning to use the sycle to cut the fields is by far my favorite thing to do and is by far the most physically draining aspect of field work I have done here in the village. I now have two weeks of construction work under my belt and I hope there is more to come! My back, hands, arms and legs all benefited from the 13 hour days at the construction site as did my appreciation of how most of the men in the village support there families. Since my return from the construction site, I have gained a whole new aspect of respect from my community members as well as a lot more moms and grandmothers trying to marry me off to who ever they can find! This summer I also took the opportunity to visit some of my friends from the Peace Corps who live in other cities across the country. First on the list was a visit to the Black Sea coast. A group of us traveled down to the Romanian/Bulgarian border to an old hippy beach town, Vama Veche. We crashed on the beach with a tent and blankets, slept very little, meet a ton of great people and had a lot fun. If ever in Romania during July or August make the trip to Vama Veche and par-take in all the bon-fires with guitars, no worries atmosphere and nude beach if you so desire! I also managed to spend a bit of time in the European Union´s Cultural Capital for 2007, Sibu. It is a very beautiful, small town feel city with plenty of entertainment. I read Bram Stocker´s ˝Dracula˝ this summer and while doing so was able to visit the city of his birthplace, Sighisoara. I really enjoyed my time in Sighisoara and was even able to drink a couple beers while bobbing my head to some Bob Marley songs covered by a local band! Keeping in the theme of Dracula I went for a visit to the supposed Dracula Castle in Bran. I have to be honest, it was a pretty big disappointment, I mean the tour does not even take you to a dungeon or anything...Oh well! The culmination of summer was my Mid-Service Conference with the Peace Corps. It has been 1 year and 4 months since I arrived in Romania, believe it or not and it was a great opportunity to self reflect on all that has happened since my arrival. School year 2008/2009 begins in 6 days, which I am still having a hard time believing. I really enjoyed myself this summer, riding the rails, visiting new lands and learning new trades. One aspect of living in this 1,000 person village that has been a bit challenging is always living under a microscope. I love the openness and friendliness of the community I live in, but sometimes it is nice to be a stranger in a strange land, getting lost in the crowd. However, no matter how much fun I had on the beaches of the Black Sea or throwing bricks around in Timisoara, there is no place like home!