Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Summer Recap

I just returned to my apartment after a month of camps, PC trainings, and a bit of volunteer visiting. It has been an amazing (and busy!) summer and it keeps getting better because my brother Troy and sister-in-law Caitlin arrived today for a visit! They are currently passed out (its 9:15PM) and so I'm going to take this time to let you know what I've been up to the last four weeks.

GLOW Camp: Maramures (Northern Romania)-As I stated in the last post, I spent a week helping fellow PCV Sara Monson work this camp for young girls, empowering them as women and teaching them life skills such as (but not limited to!)  safe sex, how to be a leader, volunteerism and the importance of it, effective communication, giving positive feedback, and the incredibly important skill of.... tie-dying t-shirts!

Our shirts, drying on the line.
There was lot of hair braiding going on. And Tie Dye.

The group in our tie dye creations!
It was a great week, complete with talent show, campfire (we taught the Romanians how to make s'mores!) and at the end of the week, everyone was in tears saying goodbye.  The idea of a structured, girls-only camp is pretty foreign in Romania and so we were all really happy with the outcome and overall positive response from the girls. They were begging us to do it again next year!

MST (Mid-service training): Sinaia, Central Romania-Sara and I took a night train directly to Sinaia after the camp (12 hours!) and showed up about 5:30am to the Grand Rina Sinaia Hotel. I love trainings mostly because we get to stay in a nice hotel in a beautiful city with air seriously though,  the trainings are great because we get to see the volunteers in country and learn a thing to two to help us along with our service.  This training was focused on legacy projects and teaching skills in the classroom. Since Peace Corps has announced we are leaving Romania in the year 2013, we are focused on creating and implementing small or even one large legacy project before we go. More on that later.

This training was unique because we had group 27 (my group) and 28 there, the newbies. It was nice to meet everyone and be together for the week. I enjoyed witnessing the fresh-faced optimism and I was renewed while hearing how excited they were to be here and how ready they were to make a difference. I have absolutely no pictures from Sinaia but trust me when I say it was a beautiful town, surrounded by mountains and much cooler weather.  However, the service around town left a lot to be desired. Every restaurant we went to seemed to have an ornery waiter or we waited forreverrr for our food. Then, on the second to last night, my phone was stolen right out of my purse while we were out at a bar. That was fun.

BRASOV: Central Romania-So after a week of PC trainings, a group of us decided to go to Brasov-a neighboring town and one of the most beautiful cities in Romania. We enjoyed actual Mexican food (and tequila shots on the house!) as well as a real burger (usually they are made with chicken, or a mixture of pork, chicken, and beef here..ugh). We visited the Black Church, the largest Gothic church between Vienna and Istanbul, and took a ride up the mountain to the "Brasov" sign, much like our Hollywood sign.

Me, Chelsea, and Julie. Love these ladies!

Jeremy and I checking out Brasov from the mountain.

Standing in one of the narrowest streets in Europe-Rope Street. 1.32 Meters wide!

Riding the telegonda to the Brasov sign. Chelsea might be freaking out just a bit.

Main Piata in Brasov.

Freya and Julie in the Piata. You can see the Black Church in the background.

A church on the site of the first school in Romania.


Freya and I-can you see the "Brasov" sign on the mountain?

Peace Corps travel right here.
We met an amazing girl from London who currently teaches English in Russia (Moscow) and we've decided to visit her this winter! I know...Russia in the winter...but we're doing it. More details to come as we find a sponsor and work out or visas for the trip.

PLOIESTI: Southern Romania-After Brasov I headed down to visit Ploiesti and the surrounding area.  It was a wonderful and relaxing week-it's always fun to visit other volunteer's homes and villages.  There was a lot of cooking, walking around town, meeting neighbors, and feeding stray dogs.  We found a neighbor who sold homemade wine and stopped in to buy some. For a mere 25RON (roughly $8) we bought a 5 liter jug. Can't beat that. The man then showed us around his home, farm, and garden and loaded us up with homegrown veggies-I love Romanian hospitality! We ended the week celebrating Aran's  (PCV from group 28) birthday. I headed back to site Sunday night and after a month of being gone, collapsed into my bed and slept for hours.

Aran the birthday boy in the middle and Candice, another PCV

Candice the dog whisperer. Feeding the strays.

And now, Troy and Caitlin are here to visit and we're going to do a wine tasting tomorrow and my site's winery, then head into Timisoara for some touring around. We'll then go to Sibiu (Central Romania) on Friday and stay a few days then head back for the first day of school on MONDAY. Yes-school is starting up again and I can't believe it! More to come later...

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