Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

We woke up to snow this morning. If it had been in Waco everything would be closed! There was a sprinkling of snow yesterday morning and this snow there was more. One of the boys in the family we are staying with was out removing it from the walkways when we went to breakfast. The car doors were so frozen closed that it took quite a while to get them open.

The temperature this morning was 17 degrees but it didn’t feel as cold as it does at home because there isn’t any wind. The natives are complaining about how cold it is but with all the clothes we have on and no wind it really doesn’t feel terribly cold.

We are learning what it means to layer clothes. Sometimes we feel smothered with all we have on. But we are glad not to be cold so we keep wearing one thing on top of another! We also have to wear our money belts all the time with our money, passports, and credit cards in them. That adds to the bulk we feel. The wool socks that Alice gave Genie and Sam sent Preston have been very welcome articles of clothing. We wear them all the time—even to bed! They do not wear shoes in the house so warm socks are needed. One problem in dressing is that it is cold outside but very warm in the classroom. We have opened the window everyday because it has been so warm.

The information we had about having to always wear skirts was not true. Many of the women are wearing pants, even jeans, and in this cold weather it makes lots of sense. I have worn skirts everyday so far but tomorrow if it is still cold I think I will bring out my wool pants. However, it is true that they do not wear jewelry. There is only one woman in the class who has on earrings. Several do have on wedding rings but some of the married students do not even wear those.

Genie is surprised about how many people wear the same clothes for several days. (Of course Preston had not noticed!) Several of the class members have worn the same clothes for two days and others have worn the same thing everyday.

Yesterday one of the women we met in 2005 came to our classroom and asked us to come to her house sometime next week. She is from central Asia and she wants to talk about how she can take the social work profession back to her country. She said she could not talk about Jesus in her country because it was Muslim, but could show Jesus’ love by serving others through social work. We are looking forward to being in her home.

One of the frustrations in class is that we don’t always know what they are talking about. They may start a discussion and the interpreter will start to tell us what they are saying but then several people start talking and he just can’t keep up with all the discussion.

Another language issue is that when they don’t want us to know what they are saying they speak in Russian or Romanian but if we want to make a comment to each other there are so many of them that understand English that we don’t have that privacy.

The word for social work in Romanian is asistenta sociala or literally social assistant. One student looked at one of the plants in the classroom and said, “This plant needs social assistance” and grabbed a watering can and brought back water for the plant.

We have been teaching values and ethics and have had some exciting discussions. Just like the USA abortion and homosexuality are hot topics. We learned that until 2002, one could be jailed for practicing homosexuality. Actually the discussions were not that different from those we have with Baylor students.

We are really impressed with our students. They really get involved in the discussion and contribute great examples. We ask for examples often to check out if they understand the concepts and so far they seem to be.

One fear was that they would already know everything we were teaching, but that simply is not true even though they all have undergraduate degrees in social work.

Genie is always glad to see the Baylor page come up on the computer. It seems like we are not so far away if we can see that! It is also great to hear from you. Thanks for all your messages and keep them coming!

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