Fourth and Fifth Week – At the American Councils American Language Center in Chisinau, we celebrated the American Independence Day with watermelon, bobbing for apples, singing songs and playing games. I also presented information to the attendees about my specific holiday rituals as well as talked about growing up in Texas. I also attended some English classes where I was able to incorporate some of my own hobbies into language learning. For instance, I visited two English classes (one intermediate and one beginner) and one English language discussion club. In these meetings I taught Moldovan students ice-breakers and the fundamental basics of improvising theater. The ESL students excelled at the exercises that I gave them and were improvising in no time, all in English! I was very impressed by their eagerness to learn and have fun in such a different context.
Fifth and Sixth Week – These past few weeks have been very busy for me since I began volunteering with the FLEX (Future Leaders Exchange) program at the beginning of July. FLEX participants are high school students that come from various post-soviet countries and stay a year abroad with an American host family while they attend high school. In Moldova, twenty or so students are here for a month long intensive English language camp. As a volunteer at the camp, I mentor a girl from Tajikistan. I help her prepare a powerpoint presentation on Tajikistan and converse with her in English. Once she gets to the United States, she will present her country to her fellow classmates during International Week. I also attend some of the activities that they have planned for the students such as an American Picnic where we prepared peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and s’mores, played soccer, and danced to music.
Seventh Week – Last night, I had dinner with my host family and conversed easily with them in Romanian. To be frank, I wish I were staying longer to immerse myself more in the language and culture. I now feel confident and prepared to go back home and research historical texts and contemporary data in Romanian. Furthermore, the connections and contacts that I have made here have been so enriching. I have formed life-long relationships with my host family and friends here in Moldova as well as promoted inter-cultural connections between the US and Moldova. I hope to one-day return to this wonderful country to pursue my doctoral research in the near future. Living abroad in Moldova has also encouraged me to return home to my university to learn Russian, which I will begin in the fall. This beautiful country full of rolling hills and lush countryside will always be in my heart and I will reflect upon this experience with fondness. I will miss the delicious and fresh food, the wonderful and very cheap wine and even the crowded maxi-taxis! Most of all, I will miss the generous and warm people that have embraced me as their own. I really owe so much to American Councils for making this a special and life-changing experience.
By: Stephanie Russo
Program: Eurasian Regional Language Program
Term: Summer 2013