Monday, March 21, 2016

Saints in Romania: On Mondays We Go To School (and Hike!)

Today was a great day for us Romanian travelers. It stated off with a trip to two local schools, a middle school and an elementary school. At the middle school, we got to tour between the the different classes before visiting and sitting in on an 8th grade English lesson. We then walked about 30 minutes away to a different town's elementary school. At this school, different grades attend at different times of the day (ex: kindergarten in the morning and 3rd grade in the afternoon). This is due to the school only having three classrooms but more than three grades. We showed up as morning classes were ending and afternoon students were beginning to arrive. The first elementary class we visited was the kindergarten room. The students serenaded us with many songs in Romanian before it was our turn to sing back to them. We pulled out some old classics such as "Row Row Row Your Boat", "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star", and "Itsy Bitsy Spider" before teaching the students "Head Shoulders Knees and Toes" and having them sing and dance along with us. It was fun for all! We then ended the morning sitting in on a third grade religion class before walking back to Casa Tyrol (the name of our house we are staying at) for lunch.

Sam Stevens reflected on the morning visits to the schools:

"Today we went to see the schools the children go to. First, we saw their version of a middle school and sat in on an English class. When a student was called on, the student would stand up and answer. Now I thought that was from the 1960s, but it is very much still used. For some reason it really stood out to me. Then, we visited the elementary school. The really little ones sung a bunch of songs to us. We then sang back to them but didn't sound nearly as good as they did! It was an experience that showed me how differently we are but that just makes the bond we form with the people here so much more important."

After lunch, we worked on a service project for part of the afternoon. Instead of painting, we ended up working in the garden in front of our house. We turned over the soil and planted some bulbs. Since many of the children were still in school when we finished, we took a hike up to church on a hill and then finished climbing all the way to the top! We were joined by some of the high school boys from Pro Vita. The scenes from the top were spectacular.

Daniel Wozniak shares his views on the afternoon:

"This afternoon we dug up dirt and raked the garden. It was overgrown with weeds and in need of tilling. We used shovels to turn the dirt over and then raked it. We removed rocks and trash as well. Some of it was grass so we took it out and shook off the dirt.

After, we went on a hike up to a church overlooking the town. Then we hiked further up that small mountain to the top where we were met with a nice view of an adjacent village. The views from the top of the mountain was amazing and beautiful!"

We eventually came back from the hike and had some free time before dinner. Students played cards, chatted with some of the Pro Vita students, relaxed, and helped prepare dinner until it was time to eat. After dinner, we worked on a project that ultimately brings money to Pro Vita-bagging incense into small 5g bags. The community acquires the incense in extremely large quantities and divides it up before selling it to churches. It was a time to all work together while still letting us chat and bond.

Tomorrow, we get up nice and early, pack, and head off to our overnight in Basov! We are all excited to see and explore Transylvania (and maybe spot a vampire or two!). Check back tomorrow to see how our first day away from Pro Vita went.

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