There's Something about Mary

Stories and thoughts about my time as a Peace Corps volunteer in Moldova

First Bell

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In Moldova, September 1 is the first day of school for everyone in the country, including the colleges and universities. (Kind of a smart idea, if you ask me). My host mom a day or two before asked me if I wanted to go to first bell.  She told me it started at 8:30, so we would need to leave at 8.

On Thursday, I got myself dressed and walked with my host mom to the local Russian school (yes, they have schools in different languages, more on that later), where her daughter is a teacher, and her granddaughter is a student.  We made a quick stop at my office so I could drop my stuff off and arrived at the school just in time.  On our way there my host mom told me that this is the biggest school in Rîşcani, with about 800 students, in all 12 forms.  Kindergarden is held in a different building.

When we arrived at the school, all the students, parents and staff members were outside in a “U” shape pattern, and the kids in form 1 (1st grade) were escorted in by the 12th form students.  Everyone was dressed very nice, most in black skirts.jumpers and white tops.  (Some a little scandelous for US standards, if you ask me)  All the boys had on suits that they all looked so cute in, and most everyone had flowers for their teacher.  There were some speeches by the school director and some students, none of which I could understand because it was in Russian.  There was also a few performances, a little girl sang, 2 others danced, and then the first bell was rung.

After the bell was rung, everyone separated and went to their home room.  I followed my host mom inside to see her granddaughters class, then we left and walked back to my building.

               

                  

On our walk back, I tried to ask my host mom the reason for the different schools, in Rîşcani there is a Russian, Romanian and even a Ukranian school. This means that the lessons are taught in that language. In Moldova the official language is Moldovan, which we celebrated on August 31 “National Language Day” and doesn’t actually exist, but is about 98 % Romanian with a few different words mixed in, that come from the Russian language.  We never really came to a conclusion, she just kept telling me that they are of Russian decent and want to speak Russian.  I personally think it is one of those things that will continue to hold this country back, eventually the government is going to have to put a stop to the segragated schools and just teach in the national language, and offer the Ukrainian or Russian as other classes to take.

I would say that a good majority of Moldovans can speak both Russian or Romanian, and maybe some English, French or Ukranian. But then there is also a smaller number of people who only speak Russian, which is something I have found in my community, and it can be rather frustrating.  There is an awesome cafe, but the menu is only in Russian, so all I have ever ordered is ice cream or coffee, but the rest of the food smells incredible, I just can’t read the menu. The market across from my work operates mostly in Russian, and the lady behind the counter glares at me when I can’t understand.  When I am introduced to people, they ask if I speak Russian or Romanian, when my host mom tells them Romanian they give me a sad look and say, in time.  I do hope to pick up some Russian while I am here, but why should I have to to be successful at my job?  So I ask, why in a country where the national language is one thing can people do their business and send their children to a school of a who different language?

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Author: Mary O

Hi, I'm Mary. I am orignally from Spokane Wash., where I lived for 20 years of my life. I went to school in Bellingham Wash, at Western Washington University and graduated with a degree in Business Administration. In June 2011, I moved to Moldova for the Peace Corps. In the Peace Corps, I am an Agribusiness and Rural Development Volunteer, and live in a town called Riscani, which is about 3 hours northwest of the capital city. I love Moldova, but there are somedays where I really miss all my friends and family in the States! Email me if you have more questions!

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