Saturday, July 16, 2011

To be continued...


They say it ain't over till it's over and I guess that's why I decided to request to extend my stay here as a Peace Corps volunteer in Romania. It's been a long while since the first day in this place and the 50,000 plus photos and video are only part of the story that I've been able to share with others around the world. The real story is how others and myself have changed through the process of my service. It's obvious in the classroom for those whom I've taught and in the language skills I've acquired. But not so obvious in the details which are imbedded in my memory and that of others. Those things that we've experienced together, the children and I, their parents, my Romanian colleagues, the friends that I've made, and other volunteers who've been a part of that with me in these past two years.


I will adore telling these stories, although at times it will be sad or frustrating as there will be distance and time between us. Each day that passes there are many moments which I want to capture forever and I've tried to record everything that I could, but it's never the lens, the personal one, which we feel in our heart when there is a laugh, a smile, a touched hand, a view, a taste, a feeling that is all yours. As Peace Corps volunteers, those of us who put our whole selves in while away for 27 months, there is nothing that compares to the time which we spend away. That's the reason I asked to stay on and I know that it will all be worth any sacrifice which may come. After our country director and Washington agreed that it would be a benefit to the program for me to continue into 2012, I thought about how much I'd been able to accomplish and what a large responsibility I still had before me to put forth the best of what President Kennedy envisioned to other people who live far away.


The difference is that now, after twenty seven months, there are friends here, friends who are just as loved and admired as those I had before. There are children who will know things that I only I could teach them, the hundreds of them in Moldavia and elsewhere across Romania. There was the visiting, the adapting,the conversations about life, differences and similarities, the church-going, the cooking, the funerals, the christenings, the birthdays,the walks, the vacations, the work, the play and all the other things to never forget. There are familiar places, sights and sounds that I will be able to revisit to recapture once more. All of that and much, much more is on the horizon again. Also, many of you have ridden along with me by reading this blog, commenting on my Facebook posts or CNN iReports, or reading the articles which I've written for ACUM and Peace Corps publications in order to know a bit about the life here with all the people who've I've touched and touched me. And I am so grateful.

So into the next year, I will try to make more of a mark each day, just as I've tried to do each morning of each day since May 28th of 2009. And I do hope that you'll come along with me on this journey about Romania, whether you have a minute to view a picture or video, a coffee break to read a story, or a half and hour to write here to see what's going on. It has been a joy to be able to send home the message that despite our different nationalities, we are all a part of the same great big family.

Reporting from Romania Peace Corps, this is Natalie, looking forward to tomorrow in this wonderful world.


Saturday, April 30, 2011

This is Only the Beginning


"Be the person God meant for you to be and you will set the world on fire"-St. Catherine of Siena (Best quote from the Royal Wedding said by the Archbishop of Canterbury in his address to the newlyweds The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the congregation at Westminster Abbey)

Setting the world on fire isn't the easiest thing to do. Oftentimes things get in the way such as life's inconveniences and tragedies alike. But we try and try again despite the energy that it takes to do battle and the hope which sometimes gets lost amid the darkness of the day's events. As our world goes on around us, we can either choose to let it come crashing down and suffocate us or we can be strong and lift ourselves above what is happening to create a light on earth that can be seen by everyone else.

This month, we celebrate a new beginning, another triumphant time of the resurrection, another look into our God-given souls for the love and the trust to begin again, somehow saved from all that would try to extinguish our flames. On Easter, the celebratory candles continue to provide a guiding light into the way in which many of us pursue our heretofore unrevealed destinies.

I feature the photo of these lilies which I'd picked on Easter Sunday from a hill in Transylvania as a symbol, as was with the marriage bouquet of Kate Middleton, a commoner no more, in order to remind myself of all that can be accomplished, and all which should be remembered at this Easter season. We are all uncommon, really, and in that regard, all have the potential to bring to the world our own unique brand of light. Our individual impact is important and essential and when we look into the eyes of others, we can choose to deny that or choose to embrace it as we embrace the air in our lungs.

The folkloric meaning of these lilies is as follows:

It is said to be symbolic of a return to happiness, a purity of heart, a sweetness, the representation of the tears of the Virgin Mary, a completeness, and love's good fortune. The legend of the lily of the valley is that it sprang from Eve's tears when she was banished from the Garden of Eden. Known as the flower of the month of May, it is also believed to be a protector for gardens and living things.

On Easter and in the days and years that will always follow, we can have joy in our hearts for what God has given to us and make the most of what we have in order to bring a spirit and an unselfish gift of ourselves to others.

As a Peace Corps volunteer, that's an easy task. We are given the stage to open the minds of our neighbors and those of ourselves to the differences, the similarities and the wonders that exist far away from the confines and the comfort of what is familiar. We are able to open doors and make strides toward that person that God means for us to be. As Peace Corps family together we go into the future never to be the same again and we can know that we burn bright and have much to be grateful for.

Over the next year after checking in for a bit in the US, I'll also be trying to set the world on fire, with God's help, as I'll now have the privilege to serve as a Peace Corps volunteer once again for an extension of my tour here in Romania. And when Eastertime rolls around again, next spring in my Romanian-Hungarian town, I'll have more to be thankful for, to be proud of, to learn about, and to share with my friends and family around the globe-God willing.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Thoughts on Being Over Fifty...




...in the over-50 Peace Corps:


You, my friend,

Are fifty.

Old enough to-

Speak your mind

Abandon convention

Decide for yourself

Surprise the heck out of them

Welcome your spirit

Be a kid when you want

Worship the sun

Nurture free time

Travel the world

Relish alone time

Feel like a woman

Grab the brass ring

Enjoy being alive

Kick up a storm

Master singing and dancing

And wish upon a star

To follow who you are

At fifty.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Ringing in the New

Here I am, 19 months and 11 days since embarking on a journey in the U.S. Peace Corps which has taken me from East to West Romania traveling throughout this country of contrasts, all the while making a conscious effort to share the experience with audiences near and far. It's difficult sometimes to try to express the emotions which come with being in this position. On any given day, I have short and long conversations with people who may or may not remain in my life. Whether it be in Romanian (which most times it is) or in English peppered with Hungarian (a more frequent occurence these days here in Transylvania), I've gotten used to the nature of my existence and every day go to bed with an attitude of thankfulness waking up with the knowledge and the responsibility of what it means to be a Peace Corps volunteer. Many have asked me why I do what I do. They've gotten an earful of my President Kennedy commitment, the insight into how this mission has affected my choices along the way, and a sense of one person's European-American globally grounded outlook with a large dose of personal belief that open and honest extensions of friendship will inevitably change the way we all may view our own corner of the world. I've visited families, taught hundreds of children, seen spectacular architecture, worshiped in historic churches, braved the winters I'd left behind in New England long ago, learned about things I've never expected, and made the most of every minute s a volunteer abroad. Now, well into year-two of my service, I've had a hard time realizing that my birthplace still exists and that one day, certainly, I will tell these stories of Romania and all its people whom I've come to know from across the miles instead. It's not a day which I look forward to, although I miss my friends and family who've been beside me in spirit all the way. I think about how I can inspire others who might wish to take a similar journey Surely there will be years...the rest of my life...to retell, relate, and renew the times of this life which are already seeming too brief. Those times which are a part of me now, the present, which will someday migrate to the past, and which will become the fabric in the veritable quilt of these years spent overseas. All the words in the English language cannot do enough to describe sufficiently the who, what, when, where and how of the life I've had here in Romania. There are days which I feel as if I've always been here, and other days when I catch the edge of the sun going down and with it a glimpse of the life I once had in South Carolina. Neither is it a life without meaning nor is it without gratitude. Either in the United States or in Romania, I have been blessed (it's only the way I see it) with great memories, cursed by situations out of my control, and gifted with a fresh outlook while being touched by visions of my own Eastern European ancestry on my mother's side through present-day traditions still being performed diligently and religiously here in this country. The first part of my service began in training, then it brought me to Moldavia and ultimately here into the Transylvanian heartland. Romania has had its surprises and I've been changed forever by them. Even in the moments when there have been hardships, there has never been a time when I've allowed those negative circumstances to deter me from what I believe to be the most important work of my life. I've had to say heartbreaking goodbyes, back in the U.S. because of death or distance, and here in-country as well. But either here or there, because we are human, our brains dictate that we feel both pleasure and pain sometimes unexpected and undeserved, but in all ways valuable to who and what we will become. Until that day when we take our last breath, we can choose to be vulnerable to all of it, or not. I've chosen this path to be that willing subject of life's never-ending roller coaster of joy and disappointment, effort and effortlessness, work and rest, comfort and discomfort, conformity and enormity, love and loss, success, promises broken, challenges and change. My Peace Corps life has been that every step of the way. And now that 2010 has come to a close, I can safely say that "ringing in the new" in 2011 was just as exciting as it was on the brink of 2010. Then as now, I see the hope and the realization of yet some more dreams made possible by those simple words said almost 50 years ago. From far away along the airwaves and into a black and white television set to a modest home back in Providence, Rhode Island, the voice had sincerely asked what we could do for our country and now all these years later, the Peace Corps has answered time and time again. Now, I can leave behind "auld aquaintances", yet still keep them close, taking another few steps each day and another giant leap of faith into this next year and beyond without abandoning the old or the dear or the familiar. Here's to 2010: Romania days to remember---for its friendships, its celebrations, its enlightenments, and always and forever, its praises---as a Peace Corps life in living color. La Multi Ani!
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Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Summer of My Disconnect





It’s like this…you sign on for the Peace Corps after studying, working, living and breathing the fresh air whenever you can and maybe forty-five years later you get the chance to make your mark and soak it all in. For the past year, living peacefully by a large, untamed river in the middle of the Moldavian countryside had its perks. Cool feelings on a hot day, melodious sounds of the water as it traversed the rocky bottom on it’s way down from the mountain overlook, icy beauty nestled within the cotton-white pillows on the tall trees on the most frigid of snow days, the occasional dip or wade when the urge prevailed and once in a while a relaxing afternoon either fishing for a mini-snack or just sitting on the grassy bank writing poetry or recording a journal entry for posterity, just as I am doing now.

Then the flood came. On the last week of June, when the garden I’d lovingly planted was in full swing, along with the dream routine of teaching, learning, exchanging culture, partaking in favorite pastimes like photography, writing, drawing, painting, visiting and cooking with and without formal classes for the kids, the River Trotus had its say and washed all that away. I was obliged to move housing and thus was on the road for an early vacation of sorts away from the village and its people whom I’d come to know and love.

I’d planned to be away a week at a time to explore other parts of delightful Romania and then make my way back in the interim weeks to tend the garden, teach the International Cooking with English class I’d begun last summer and generally have some rest and relaxation fit for a queen after a busy year of classes and various other activities in the community. That was not an option now and so I took the two overstuffed bags I’d packed in hand and was off to hope for the best while I was away. The bulk of my belongings stayed behind in the schoolroom that the mayor provided and so I just needed a miracle to find another place to live as not to scrap all that I’d accomplished this first year in Peace Corps.

It was hard not to feel disheartened by all of this. Most of my neighbors had no running water or heat other than wood stoves and they certainly didn’t have much extra room for a volunteer, only a bit of space for their family members. I trusted my instincts and waited it out to see if something would materialize to afford me the minimal requirements to stay for the second year and not change course midstream.

As luck would have it, after weeks-seven exactly-a family came forward, parents of one of my students, and offered me a room in a quiet nook on the hillside overlooking a much smaller river with the sounds of a barnyard echoing through each day. They kindly welcomed me into their fold and now I can breathe a little easier knowing that I will be able to stay here and not re-acquaint myself with others in another place and leave the friends and children whom I’ve come to cherish as my home away from home. It will take a bit of time to organize and restart the projects which I’d had going all year, but with the support of others, my faith in God, and the patience I’ve acquired along the way, I think that in a few weeks, all should be back to normal.

Many people tried to dissuade me during my summer odyssey. My concerned family, loving friends back home in Charleston, the staff members who thought that it might be easier for me to reintegrate into another village as there were many villages without the luxury of an American volunteer this year, and fellow “Peace Corps-ans” who thought that I’d be better off not going through the waiting and wondering as it created more stress than I’d bargained for. I listened, I ruminated, I prayed and then I stood fast. I just knew that if I’d have bailed out, the hole in my heart over unexpectedly and unwillingly abandoning my classrooms, along with all the long walks, conversations and happy times with the people in my village, well, it would be too big. I wanted no regrets and if it happened that there was no housing, then I’ would cross that bridge. Luckily and by the grace of God, I am with bed, bright window, space enough to store my things, and a shared bath and kitchen. The family is kind, generous, happy and looking forward as I am to getting to know each other over the next school year.

So what did I do over the past seven weeks? Here’s a rundown of the highlights and lowlights in my Peace Corps road of life in summer, 2010:

Moved out of gazda central due to flood on June 26th. First week away I spent in Ghimes with my best friend’s family. Made my way to Miercurea Ciuc for a night then on to Bucharest for five days to decompress and while there visited museums, thought about my future, and tried to plan for anything. Spent a week near Brasov for volunteer camp activities at Ozanku Bai. Stayed in St. George with Hungarian friends two days after that. Left for Ploiesti to see a fellow volunteer, then on to Targoviste to visit with the new volunteer candidates for a few days. Back to Brasov to visit the famous Bran Castle which I’d not yet seen and a nice day in Poiana Brasov, too. I then returned to Ghimes to welcome a newly placed volunteer in a nearby village and then went back to Bucharest for some downtime with Romanian friends. On to Alesd to visit another volunteer before a stint at camp up north and then stayed with new Romanian friends a week in Astileu. A very good visit to Hunedoara and Deva with more volunteer buds and then a four day conference in Sibiu for mid-service training. Back to Astileu and Oradea by way of Arad for more relaxation time and then returned through Alba Iulia with a night in Lunca de Jos to have a bubble bath in a pensione after the long trip home to a new gazda house on the 15th of August. But even before I could settle in for more than a few days, I was off to Ocland for a week of camp volunteering again. After two days back in Brusturoasa, again, as my luck would have it, I was off again to the yearly medical exams in Bucharest. Finally, finally, I got back to stay for a bit longer this time-or so I hope!

Here I am now in the old place I’ve grown accustomed to for the past year with familiar people and a new host family. I’m full of hope that it will all get organized and for sure I have a store of new experiences and places that I will remember to share with others when I complete my service. I even took my cooking skills on the road with me and shared with others along the way to sweeten the veritable pot as I remained "semi-homeless" for the better part of this summer. See the article about that part of the trip here at http://www.acum.tv/articol/16625. After hours and days of crowded buses, endless waiting, frustrations, spent energies, long trains, sleepless nights, and even a nasty bump on the head that ultimately led to a concussion, I am done travelling for the moment until the next vacation, one that hopefully won’t include any natural disasters. But such is life. Here or there, lots of things sometimes can rain on your parade, but the sun comes out eventually. So, it wasn't all the "Winter (or summer) of My Discontent", rather it was just a kind of free-wheeling, unpredictable,disconnected, kind of funny, "life on the road" journey that happens now and then when you least expect it. Peace Corps year two: Here I come!






Saturday, May 29, 2010

A Year in the Life...



Dear Readers,

This day marks year one in of my Peace Corps journey and as I sit down to write, I just cannot think of how to express all that has happened. Usually, I am not at a loss for words. And for the past 13 months, writing has been such a big part of the experience here in Romania. Last night, I gave an interview after having written a story to a CNN producer based in London. The day before that, there was the writing of a piece for ACUM TV. Last weekend, there was a narrated slideshow for the In Their Own Words section of Peace Corps' Coverdell World Wise Schools. And on and on, I've written a history of sorts because all of the days are filled with things to share, note, describe, relate, and otherwise record for posterity.

During the time that I've been here, I've had so many things change and be changed, both for the worse and for the better. I credit my continuous faith in God for seeing me through each of those. Here in Romania, I've been able to see more of how the people's faith, ritual, spirituality and the teachings of old enriches the lives of so many on a daily basis. I've been present at each and every holiday both as a conscientious observer and as a member of this community. I've seen funerals, baptisms, Christmas and Easter, and various other celebrations and commemorations, all recorded for the camera and all will forever occupy a huge chunk of the annals of my memories. They are fresh reminders each time of why I am here and alive. A saying that I've now learned in Romanian which comes to mind is "Ati gustat cat de bun este Domnul".

And speaking of the camera, it's now become my obsession. The children whom I teach will now have lasting looks at their work, their play and their lives during a time when the Peace Corps paid a visit. The parents, the neighbors and friends will also have something to reflect upon when the day comes (if it does at all) for me to leave and continue on the paths that I will eventually be led to. I cannot wait to hear and to see what the futures of all of them might be. And so, by continuing to document everything, it is my sincere hope that these "archives" of a Peace Corps volunteer will be used to refresh the memories of the past of each and every one of them.

Ah, the past. Well, many say that is best kept in the past...but I don't believe that. My family, my dear friends back in Charleston and other parts of the world, and the things that have shaped my life all have an impact on what I think, do and feel about being a volunteer here in Eastern Europe. To be a volunteer has always been for me the single most important mission. Without the various hours, days, weeks, and years of volunteering for others, I cannot say that my life would have been filled to the brim.

Starting out as a summer camp volunteer, then a hospital volunteer in the NICU, and several years volunteering as a firefighter, I found that time spent working to help (or save) others was a time to both give and receive multiple gifts. Time was not wasted. Time was not lost. Then, as I got older, volunteering for afterschool programs, volunteering for city projects, volunteering for the promotion of art and culture, volunteering for the elderly, the Red Cross Disaster Response Team,and so on, were all ways that changed me, my fellow volunteers, and everyone that we came in contact with...albeit sometimes in small, not yet quite detectable ways. I've made many friends, been a mentor, seriously challenged my limits, learned quite a bit, had such wonderful times, and certainly have been blessed by the faces of those whose lives I have touched as they have touched me.

My decision to volunteer and serve in the Peace Corps has been graciously named by others to be courageous, impressive, highly American, dedicated, powerful, awe-inspiring and other things. The people who write to me or speak to me directly each day have credited me with having all of these traits. To them all, I send a big thank you and much love back for their praise, support, understanding and interest in what I am doing here. But now, I give credit to the Romanians, yes, all of them young and old, Peace Corps staff, the citizens of Brusturoasa and neighboring villages and towns where I have new friends, a new and exciting lifestyle, and a look into a window that I never expected to see, and of course, the hundreds of children here who mean so much to the future of Romania, for all that this year has meant for myself, my friends, and family, and anyone else who has read about what goes on in this corner of the world through my blog postings, or any other of the news agencies, newspapers, or websites that have carried these stories of Peace Corps life in "Romanialand".

Without them, it would all have been "dust and shadow".

I can't wait to be here another year and hope that you will continue on this journey with me whenever you have time to take a look, drop a line, or laugh a little when you see me try to dodge a great big cow or two on the road!

(Hey...I just heard one of those cowbells...must mean it's another time again to take the Road Less Travelled...)
Peace,


Natalie

PS: This poetry reading was excerpted from http://scoalacomanesti.blogspot.com/2010/05/poezie-in-limba-engleza.html.



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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Primavara, You Have Surely Arrived!




Dear readers,

Today, I realized that I hadn't posted a new story in two months, and as the schoolteachers in the region held a strike day, there was a free, but jam-packed-with-stuff-to-do day on the agenda and I thought, well, it would be a good time to revisit these pages! Instead of focusing on one particular event, I'd like to go ahead and show you some of the highlights of my busy, but very blessed, life here in Romania Peace Corps. After 11 months in the country, the language comes with everyday ease, the activities are piling up for the record books, and the rewards that come with volunteering are too endless to count.

I've been in contact with two soon-to-be volunteer trainees, one from the heart of the midwest, where some of my family lives, and one from my much loved college back in Charleston, SC, who will be coming here to experience some of what Romania has given to me. I am very happy for them and can't wait to meet them face to face to spend time being their own personal tour guide and mentor as the anniversary of my first year here approaches. They ask me all of the time what my "typical" day looks like and things like how much to pack and what do I do in my free time. Well, girls, the answers lie below, and they are anything but typical. As for the packing, it'll drive you crazy until you get here and you realize that not only can you do without most of it because you can eventually get it here, but, except for the most needed personal mementos and essential favorites, it's okay to leave the country and merge straight ahead and not look back. You'll find a new world here and for a time, it will be your only love. And lastly, the free time thing...well, free it's not, unless you don't want to be a living, breathing, and dedicated member of your new community that has a big heart which will be filled by each Romanian personal experience you will have.

And now for the news:

March came in like a lamb with a beautiful sunny day at church followed by a lovely family dinner with new friends. The sun was shining and the snow still lingered on the mountaintops. I brought home fresh eggs, and milk which they insisted I have, and then spent some time in the barnyard with the new arrivals. During the week, I was gifted by a huge amount of Martisore, those little tokens of love that appear every March 1st until March 8th according to the Romanian holiday calendar. Then, on the tail end of that, International Women's Day brought out the singers and dancers and the flowers that brightened my home here with every color of spring.

My amazingly precious granddaughter turned six back in the US and it was more than a bit sad to be so far away, but she loves her Nanny just as much as I love her and so for now, the happiness and the growing on both our parts is shared by old fashioned mail and modern technology. It's not perfect, but when I joined the Peace Corps I had to go with it, like it or not.

As the month of March progressed, there were Teatime Conversation classes, one focused on the culture of China as I revisited one of my former teaching destinations, and one fun class with a costumed and balloon festooned book party in the wonderland of Alice. There were some International Cooking with English classes. My favorite, Italian, was a smashing success. In a following class we celebrated the fruitful season by coloring eggs with natural dyes and learning how to make everything from over-easy to omelets.

After all that cooking, it was time to take the sled out a bit more, try some skiing before the snow all melted, and climb the muddy mountain behind the house, just because it was there, to pick some of the freshly sprouted ghioceii that perks up when the winter is ready to take a pause. (See photo above!)

Next, I went out of town for a weekend to judge a speaker's competition for the ESU, met up with a fellow volunteer, stayed in a nice hotel and had a good rest. In classes, we worked on newsletters, the nuances of expressive poetry, storytelling, and travel writing along with some mutual sharing of holiday traditions at Eastertime.

Speaking of Easter, one of the "only in the Peace Corps" experiences was to witness the preparation of the lamb for the religious celebration. I won't describe the details of that here since you can see them in one of my photojournal stories online, but I will say that it was probably one of the most difficult things that I ever will do, however, quite necessary, at least for me, to truly understand and to share with others what the religious tradition here entails. After that, there was a nice long road trip to Dragasani where I met such nice relatives of my gazda and enjoyed another first---Easter dinner outdoors. It was a spiritual week finished off with a huge, traditionally religious commemoration of the dead at our biserica here in the village when we returned. The whole town came out and we brought our delicious table fare outside once again.

I've been to birthdays and funerals, seen a lot more sunsets, planted a vegetable and herb garden, enjoyed my home life and my new toys, and heard sweet music while doing it, all in the course of the last two months which seemed to go by like a shooting star. There have been many sunny days, some with my students, others in church services, still others while out exploring on my own, or day tripping out and about in other small towns and villages in the company of my Romanian pals. There was also a nice long week spent in historic Sibiu with old friends and new, again, in the comfort of a shiny hotel, graciously provided by the Peace Corps, and the visits to museums, galleries, the theatre, a bit of shopping, and those much-missed restaurants. At the end of that I sped over to Galati to visit friends again, relaxed, and caught up. Then, on the way back to my village, went to visit two more elementary schools in the countryside who have also applied for a volunteer, and still had plenty of time to reflect on the peacefully long train rides about the days that had passed and those that would soon be---More sightseeing, more invitations, more memories, and more times to value far into the next years.

Here, I've had more than enough bonuses to weigh. Life has given me more than I ever expected and on March 28th, I also had the 52nd birthday-to-remember when I received a new clothes dryer (yes, no one has one here in the communa!), a brand new camera (for my ireports on CNN and other venues that I frequent to share photos and film), and many, many other beautiful, generous and amazing presents from friends, students, and family. I cannot thank them all enough for knowing what would make me smile like never before.

And that's not all, not only have I easily lost a total of 30 lbs. since leaving the US, but I've never felt better, or more delighted to be alive. Every minute is new, although at times a great responsibility, but still, a wondrously childlike challenge, and filled with unexpected pleasures. I work hard, write a lot(now I have more than a few blogs to contribute to and several sites as well) go out in the fresh air, and try to record what is happening day to day; and in the evenings, I still have a bit of time to keep in touch with family and friends far away. I miss them, I know that they miss me, and someday, we will share a bit of what it's been like for me to finally have a go at my long-wished-for Peace Corps dream. But not now. I have miles to go before I sleep and I am happy to have them here in Romania.

Today we had another special lesson, because it is Earth Day, and again, the children, my colleagues and friends, and my village's sights and sounds, opened up a new world for myself and others to see...just in the bit of time it took to recite a poem, sing a song, draw a picture, and then put the whole thing into motion in order to make a lasting impression. Ninety minutes that would be worth so much more to them in the future. And to me.

You might enjoy a sprinkling of the highlights I just mentioned, and quite a few more, if you visit the links on this blog page. Until the next time...

Drum Bun, Te Pupe, and Hristos Inviat!

Just another day in Paradise

Just another day in Paradise

To Welcome Me to the Biserica

MISTO!

MISTO!
We have surely arrived!

I'm Going to Brusturoasa!

I'm Going to Brusturoasa!
Can't Wait to Meet My New Neighbors

My Wonderful Gazda Family!

My Wonderful Gazda Family!
On the Way to the Party on the 4th