In Romania, it is now:

Sunday, March 27, 2011


I love that word--seen often here on everything from store signs to bags of sweets. It has to be something borrowed and refashioned from English. In Romanian it would be amestecat--mixed. But mixt (meekst) just sounds saucier, doesn't it? Anyway, mixt blessings, mixt reactions, mixt bag. This is my blog entry today--mixt. ***** It's been a good week overall. My session with the Roma boys (that always sounds like a gospel singing group) was terrific on Monday. We concentrated on body parts and after the flash cards and pointing, I asked for a volunteer and handed out little post-it notes with "elbow," "knee," "ear," "hand," "nose," etc. on them to all the others. They had to come up one at a time and stick the note to the proper place on the vol's body. The volunteer--Cristi--wants to be a teacher and loves to be in front of the group. He was quite a sight covered in little yellow notes and loved hamming it up! The director took a picture and promised to send it to me, but I don't have it to show you yet. We also sang and acted the ever-popular "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes" song, which I was afraid might be too young for them, but they loved it, especially as we went faster and faster. The boys seem to be learning quite well and remember alot from week to week. I'm going to tackle grammar with them tomorrow--present progressive/continuous. After the weeks of mostly songs and vocabulary, they may balk. ***** There was tension in the air last week at school as the county education inspectors visited classrooms and evaluated teachers. I was not part of their evaluation and just smiled and looked American as they tromped through the media center where I was teaching. **** I introduced the Peace wall mural design competition last week and hope we get a few good concepts turned in this week. We PCVs (several anyway) are doing this all over Romania as a salute to the 20 years in Romania, 50 in the world celebration. Our wall will be right at the front entrance to the school, so it better look decent.(!) Of course, I have a hunch that it might get painted over as soon as I'm on a plane back to the states, but for now they are humoring me and the documentarian, a fine artist, is on board to help with making the design work on a large scale. More later on this. **** Wednesday I was in Oradea for the day at the Main Library, judging speeches in English given by 5th-12th grade students. The 30+ kids did a great job, but what I really enjoyed was hearing them speak about such hopeful and uplifting topics, having to do with volunteerism, serving others, etc. Since the communist era these have not been easy values for Romanians to embrace. The younger generation, however, never having experienced the oppression, seems to have a more positive mindset. I found the experience very encouraging and enjoyed meeting other English teachers, especially the 4'10" dynamo who organizes the event each year--a very gracious, intelligent and highly organized person who is also the only Jew I've met here. (Oradea lost 1/3 of its population--Jews--during WWII when they were sent to work camps and never returned.)*** Friday afternoon the "English Club" of eighth graders who want more practice with speaking English had a good meeting. They come to my place, drink Cokes, eat popcorn and cookies, listen to American music from my iPod and speakers, and we play vocabulary games, debate issues, respond to quotes, whatever will get them talking. **** This morning I attended church service at the largest Baptist Church in Romania and the 2nd largest in Europe (Emanuel). The foster parents at the Roma home where I volunteer took me. Wonderful (all male) choir complete with a brass section. I had headphones with English translation of the service. The beautiful round interior with natural light and plants made me think of my UU church in Athens--only about 10 times bigger! It was quite an experience. I sat with visitors from Korea and the UK. Here in a country where 87% are Orthodox, the Baptists are considered the liberal, progressive religion. **** And the week held some down moments, too, part of the mixt package. It's always true that we alone are ultimately responsible for our own happiness--but it seems that when you're thousands of miles from home, speak little of the local language, have a host of expectations placed on you, and are not even sure what you're doing is really needed that the "alone" part of that gets pretty heavy, and as one PCV friend put it, it's enough just to keep from going crazy. And that's why God gave us chocolate, Vivaldi, poetry, Kindles, and a little Transylvanian white wine.


  1. Must've been a mixt week all around the world, then. We've gone from Spring to tornados to chilly again; have had frightening murder in our town as well as enthusiastic young people presenting great musical theatre. Solitude, something that I so often long for, can also be a painful state. Hope those mixt days strike a balance that allows you to keep your focus and continue to do your good works with a full heart. Love to you, Clela.

  2. Thanks so much for this window on your world (and ours, I guess). It often seems terrifyingly overwhelming to me and I am so in awe of your skills. The post-it notes were genius! I love to think of these children, to whom you represent all of us, and who will always remember you as the American lady who taught them English with songs and games!