This past weekend I went to the small town of Onesti, located about 6 hours north of where I live. It has a population of about 56,000 and is known for being the birthplace of the famous gymnast Nadia Comaneci who participated in the1976 Olympics. I was in Onesti for the Peace Corps Integrated Field Visit, or IFV. The point of IFV is to visit a current volunteer in his or her site to see their work, home, and town to get a better idea of what is out there waiting for us! So my language group and Romanian professor headed out Saturday afternoon. We took a “maxi-taxi” or large shuttle van for the 6 hour trip. All was fine except for the insane heat. With no air conditioning and only one window open due to the “curent”, we were sweltering. The easiest thing to do was to fall asleep and pray we got there sooner rather than later. J
We arrived in Onesti, met up with PC volunteer Liz, and she led us to our hotel. We ate dinner at a restaurant where we could watch the World Cup and then called it a night.
On Sunday, we had language lessons with our professor then headed out to meet up with Liz. In the PC, you have your main job assignment, then secondary projects that you work on to better your community. In Liz’s case, she is a TEFL volunteer-or English teacher. On the side, she works with a local non-profit orphanage that holds approximately 100 children. The majority of the kids (90%) are severely mentally and physically disabled. They do not attend school nor will they ever. On Saturday, we took the able bodied kids out to the park to spend time with them. We had so much fun just hanging out and getting to know the kids. We bought them water and ice cream, and we swung on swings and chased one of the kids all over the park since he was in rollerblades. Lucky for me-the majority of the kids spoke Spanish (they learned from Spanish Soap Operas) so I was able to speak in broken Romanian and fluent Spanish-crazy!
Monday was spent at Liz’s school, where we met her Romanian counterpart and saw her classroom. She shared with us her lesson planning book (YES!) and we met a few principals and students. One of the most surprising aspects of the afternoon was the fact that lady gaga was blasting on the loud speakers in between classes. Lady Gaga and Pink. Strange.
Monday afternoon we picked up more kids from the orphanage, although this time we took our some children with severe disabilities. We walked them to the park and mostly swung on the swings with them, just letting them enjoy the nice weather away from the center. It was quite an experience for me, and so amazing to see my fellow volunteers interact together with such kindness and patience with each child. It was an experience I will never forget, and we were honored to spend time with each one of those children.
Monday night we spent one last dinner with Liz, hearing more and more about her experience with the PC and welcoming her advice. (Don’t spend more than 34 lei on shoes, do not compare your PC experience with other volunteers, and when you get to site, accept every dinner or event invitation to help integrate yourself into the community.) We headed to bed early because we headed back to Targoviste this morning at 6:15AM. I walked into my apartment and promptly fell asleep for 5 hours…exhausted from the weekend and the heat!!
This next week I will be focusing on my Practicum. Practicum is when the trainees teach here in town for two weeks and we are observed and given advice on our teaching. We have to come up with all lesson plans and teach an hour each day to HS and then to Middle School. I’m very nervous but also excited-just need to do my lesson plans! J
Missing you all. Hope you’re enjoying the AC back at home!! Haha. Until later,