Monday, July 07, 2008

English Resource Center in Hincesti, Moldova

Here's to all of you who have made the vision come true. While we are still ordering and recieving books, sorting and marking them, making our lists and checking them twice... WE NOW HAVE AN ENGLISH RESOURCE CENTER IN HINCESTI!!! Wahoo! And thank you, thank you, thank you to all who helped make it possible!

Below are some pics of the room that was donated by the high school where I've been working, Lyceum "Mihail Sadoveanu".

Before we renovated it, it was in pretty bad shape... even though it DID used to be an English classroom.

Imagine, they used to have five multimedia desks in the room. When for some reason they no longer functioned, they clipped all the wires flush with the floor... sort of.

When someone reroofed the building, perhaps it was too much trouble to create a hole for a vent... or to cover the vent that already existed. So the then-fresh tar roof leaked in... just a little bit.

There was often no money to replace worn out flooring. So when it rips, you just nail it back in place, or another piece over the top of it.

The sink that exists in every classroom LOOKS nice. But those pipes don't even connect to the real water pipes anymore. Besides water only runs at the school between 7-8am each day.

But NOW... after our brave cleaning and repair ladies put life and limb on the line...

We have (drum roll please!) several fresh coats of whitewash on the ceiling; new flooring; a single design of wallpaper on all FOUR walls; bookcases for the books, videos, and multimedia equipment; tables and chairs for the students and teachers to sit and use the books...

We have teaching manuals, dictionaries, magazines, films, art and history books, literature for children and adults, as well as games and activities that will help both students and teachers. The books, etc pictured here are not nearly all the resources we have gathered. Wait til we have everything up on the shelves. We will probably need another bookcase!

AND we even have a real live card catalogue... ALMOST like the one in the beloved county library of my childhood.

I can only do as much as my team lets me... You are my team, and you've taken me to the moon and back! You are FANTASTIC!!!

More pics will follow as I get everything organized...

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Sometimes you jus' feel like singing...

And the livin' is sneezy,
Gas is pumpin'
And the prices are high.
Oh yo' daddy's rich
An' yo' mama's good lookin'
So hush, little baby,
Don't you cry.

One of these mornin's,
You're gonna wake up seein'
Then you'll spread yo' wings
An' you'll find work in Italy.
But till that mornin',
The corruption won't harm you
With your Daddy in Moscow
An' mama tryin' to get by.

- Lyrics borrowed from George & Ira Gershwin, Heyward DuBose

Friday, January 04, 2008

Ah, there's nothing like a good giggle

Here's a version of the story of Queen Esther that I just read recently. I LOVE it! Good job, Daniel!

PURIM....The Story Sexy Queen Esther

A long, long time ago in a place far, far away a man and a woman had a woman child. She was born into captivity in a place also known as Iraq.

One day King Whose-name-we-won't-pronounce-because-it's-way-too long and everybody else is white, so we'll just call him King Daniel. This King Daniel was married to Queen Vashti a.k.a. Kristi. One day King Daniel wanted a late night snack and asked for his wife the queen to go make him a pie in the kitchen.

This is what she said: "Hell no, I know that you don't think I'm some kind of fool. Did you not see that I got my hair done today? And I know you're not asking me to get my hands dirty. I gots to get my beauty sleep, so you can get your own pie."

Then King Daniel was furious and said: "Hit the road, Jack." And with that he threw her to the curb and threw all her clothes on the front lawn of the palace.

So now King Daniel was on the rebound and still wanted his pie. So he decided to have a beauty contest with all the hot ladies in the land. So the King sent P-Diddy to go look for all the ladies he could find to be the new queen of Persia.

All the girls were given 1 year to pimp themselves out and finally when it came time for the beauty contest, there was none more pure and more beautiful than Hadassah, cousin of Mordekhai. Not only did she win this beauty contest, but she was also a Jew, but it was hidden from King Daniel.

After laying eyes on Hadassah, who would later be known as Queen Esther, King Daniel said "I like you". Then Hadassah said "I like you too". And then the King was like "Let's get married" and she was all like "I'm down with that". And with that, they were married. And they were supposed to live happily ever after, except there was this dude named Haman who decided he was somebody he was not.

One day, Mordekhai, cousin of Queen Esther, snuffed Haman the wrong way and Haman was like "Oh no you didn't" and Mordekhai was like "Uh Huh, you know it". And with that, Haman said "you better watch your back". And then Mordekhai was like "My God is better than you, so you better watch yoself".

So then Haman tricked King Daniel and told him that all the Jews living in his Kingdom were defiant and trying to take control of the worlds money. So King Daniel made a law that was irrevocable in those days that all the Jews should be killed because of their defiance.

Then Mordekhai went over to Esther and said "They want to kill us. You were born for such a time as this, so don't be silent because they're going to come after you too." And Esther was like "Huh?" And Mordekhai said "let me put it this way, Haman be some kinda' Nazi and he think he some kind of Hitler tryin' to mess you up. So you better hurry up and tell the King to get his boys to cap Haman's (@$&%*#)."

So then she was like "OK" and she fasted for 3 days and asked the God of Israel for help. And God was like "I won't let them hurt you because I love you".

So then, it was illegal to go before the king unless you were summoned in those days. But Queen Esther knew that God was with her and her people Israel, also referred to as the Jews, So she went before the king with the attitude that "He can kill me, but not before I make my point". So she went before the King, and the King decided not to kill her, because King Daniel is a King of love, sort of like Shaq. She asked the king "Take me out to dinner". And he was like "Any time".

Then, while they were at dinner she asked for another dinner, because she was really hungry because she had fasted for three days and the first dinner gave her the runs, so she couldn't ask the king what she wanted to ask him. Then she told King Daniel about what Haman did and the King was like "Oh, Hell no!". So then the King had Haman killed and gave all the Jews living in the land weapons to defend themselves, and thus, Israel was saved.

Thanks to Sexy Queen Esther.


Sunday, March 18, 2007

My First Russian Lesson

It was better than a hangover, but not as good as a major caffeine withdrawl.

I spent 30 minutes learning the sounds of the Cyrillic (ki-RIL-ik) alphabet. Then I spent the next 1.5 hours sounding out about 100 words. After which I slept 12 hours and got up the next day still feeling wasted.

Can you imagine? I even paid for this torture! There is special psychological treatment for people like me somewhere... but they'll NEVER catch me! Ha ha ha!

Please study the graph below for half an hour, then go to the following page and try to read for another hour and a half. (Don't try to comprehend! That could cause serious injury and irreversible damage!) Only then will you have a small taste of the mental acrobatics required to learn a new alphabet.

Click on the graph to enlarge the image. Click here to enlarge the image AND hear the actual sounds of the letters. Enjoy it in all its terrible glory!

Try out your new Russian phonics skills by reading this page!

In case you're wondering "Why Russian?", the answer is two-fold:
1. There is so much Russian spoken in my house, in my workplace, and just all over the place generally in Moldova, it really is necessary in order to know what's going on around me.
2. Because there IS so much Russian here, it is simply too good of an opportunity to waste to learn a valuable language like Russian.

Discussion on the Romanian vs. Russian langauage debate that rages here in Moldova to come at a later date.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Em's new do

Have you ever had one of those days? One of those days when the feeling just creeps up on you? Something's not quite right.  Something needs to change.

You're feeling restless. You're feeling a little weighed down. Ok, maybe even feeling, dare I say it, a little old.

Maybe it was the Moldovan lady that said,"Why don't you dye your hair? You look OLD!" (People can be pretty blunt here.) Or maybe it was all the other American girls that I was with who are 10 years younger than me and they were all doing it.

It's been over a year since the last time I did it. I've been avoiding it, because honestly, you just never know what will happen!  Whatever moved me, this weekend I went ahead and took the plunge...

I cut my hair.

Was it traumatic? Yes.
Was the language barrier a problem? Quite possibly.
Was it all that I hoped and more? Definitely not.
Does it look cute? Of course, it's ME we're talking about.
Will I live, and learn to love my hair again? Most certainly.

Will I ever go back to that over-priced salon that serves coffee to their clients but DOESN'T listen to what they want, that only seems to know one hairstyle, and when it's (a lot) of MY time and MY money (more than I care to admit for a haircut in Moldova) on the line? HECK NO!

But just to show you that it was only my peace of my mind and my routine that was momentarily squashed, and not my FABULOUS good looks (nor my ego evidently,) here are a couple of pics of me and the other perpetrators.

Emily's new doMicha's new doSteph's new doThe cup of coffee

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Happy Women's Day to the X-generations!

Today is the day when all women are celebrated! If you are a woman: young, old, or in between. If you are a mother, a daughter, a sister, or a grandmother. If you are a friend, a neighbor, a teacher, or a colleague. If you are just passing on the street. If you are a woman, you will be congratulated, given gifts, flowers, and beautiful wishes. It just the Moldovan way.

There are many conflicting stories on the origins of Women's Day. I've heard that it was started by women demonstrating against the First World War in Russia. It could also be something that was started in Chicago and was borrowed by Russia. The rumors are as numerous as they are varied.

Several things are for sure, though. It is definitely a holiday recognized by the United Nations. It is widely celebrated throughout the former Soviet republics. It is the eastern version of our Mother's Day in the West. Only it's better, because here, you don't have to have a child to be part of the celebration. You only have to have an X chromosome!

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Speaking of which...

In one episode of 'Cheers', Cliff is seated at the bar describing the Buffalo Theory to his buddy, Norm...

"Well you see Norm it's like this...A herd of buffalo can only move as fast as the slowest buffalo. And when the herd is hunted, it is the slowest and weakest ones at the back that are killed first. This natural selection is good for the herd as a whole, because the general speed and health of the whole group keeps improving by the regular killing of the weakest members.

In much the same way, the human brain can only operate as fast as the slowest brain cells. Now, as we know, excessive intake of alcohol kills brain cells. But naturally it attacks the slowest and weakest brain cells first. In this way, regular consumption of beer eliminates the weaker brain cells, making the brain a faster and more efficient machine.

And that Norm, is why you always feel smarter after a few beers."