Saturday, February 3, 2007

February 3, 2007

We have completed our first week of teaching and think it was very successful. We gave each student a certificate of completion and wish you could have seen the smiles on their faces. They love to learn and have recognition of their accomplishments. We will get Steve Gardner to add a picture of the group that we have in class.

Yesterday the students gave reports about social agencies in Moldova. They had various groups to talk about, such as children and families, elderly, person with physical and mental disabilities, sex traffic and others. They all began by giving a picture of the issues globally and then compared to Moldova. I think they think much more about the world as a whole than Americans do! We learned a lot about Moldova through their reports and look forward to telling you about it when we get back home.

We asked if any of them were going to use the computer and projector for their reports and some of them said they didn’t think about that being a possibility. They said only teachers do that. Then one said maybe they would think about it next time. When we told them that students in American almost always use power point for their reports they were very surprised. Some of them don’t use the computer. However, several asked for electronic copies of our power points.

Some of you will remember that the last time we came we brought lots of pens and tablets. We didn’t have room to bring them this time but I wish we could have brought some. They are very careful with their paper. We did bring a few pens and they had fun deciding which ones they wanted. Thanks to Jim Ellor of the SSW faculty for providing these.

It snowed again during the night Thursday night so it was really cold Friday morning. One of the dangerous parts was how slippery it was. However, it is kind of like it is in Texas in the summer. We go from the house to the car, the car to the classroom, to the car and back to the house. We really aren’t out in the cold for very long at a time.

This morning Alex asked us if we wanted to go with him to the market. We took a taxi and went to buy groceries. It was quite an experience. People were everywhere, pushing and shoving trying to get to the counters. Most of the market was outdoors. They had beautiful fruit, lots of nuts, lots of vegetables that were right from the ground. Some carrots had been cleaned off a little but most of them had dirt on them just as they had been pulled from the garden. They had food, clothes, cleaning products, homemade oil—a lot of everything! Alex kept telling us not to get lost! We were very careful to stay very close to him! The driving of our first taxi driver would put the driving of New York taxi drivers to shame. We learned in class yesterday that old age pension was $25 per month and that the cheapest housing was around $50. Alex told us today that many retired police officers, doctors and others who have retired drive taxis to supplement their income.

The meat market was indoors and was something else. Fresh meat just out on the counter and people, mostly women, cutting off whatever you wanted. This was in a large building and the whole place was full of meat. Alex took us to one woman that he always buys from because he says she has higher quality meats. Genie wishes she had not seen where the meat we eat comes from! It is very good but Americans would not like these conditions at all. No cleanliness laws exist at this market!

The last place we visited was the spice counter. They had all kinds of spices in open containers out on the counter. I don’t know what Alex asked her for but she began taking a little bit from many containers and mixing them together. We asked him what it was and he said he didn’t know. He just comes to her every week and she makes him a mixture. The spices smelled wonderful. Much better than we get in bottles.

Then we went to a grocery store very much like HEB but much smaller. Alex said things are about 20% higher in the supermarket than at the open market. He said you don’t pay taxes on food at the open market and you do at the supermarket. You can get about everything you can get at home at this market. Well, not Mexican food products but at least the basics. I (Preston) wanted to find a package of chili mix to make chili for the family, but didn’t find any. If any of you have a recipe that is not too hot (Pam, probably not yours.) and does not depend on pre-mixed spices, please send it to me by email.

One thing we miss is Diet Coke. You know how we are about our cokes! Well we do have a bottle of Coke Light in our room. And who would have thought we would enjoy it without ice and not very cold? But we are drinking it and are glad to get it.

We cannot drink the water here. In fact the Moldovans do not drink the water either. They say they only drink it if it has been boiled. Do you know how hard it is to remember not to put your toothbrush under the faucet? I have only done it once and only once forgot and got water to drink out of the faucet. I took one taste and poured it out. Thankfully I didn’t get sick from it.

Tonight we have told the family we would like to have movie night. Vern and Debbie sent a number of DVDs so we are going to use the computer and projector and have movies. While we were at the supermarket we bought some “snacks” to have and make it a party. Wish we had thought to bring some kids movies for Daniel, 4 years old. The children have seen lots of American movies but were excited that perhaps we have a few they hadn’t seen. But we don’t have kids’ movies. Daniel asks us over and over when we will have kids’ movies! We told him we only have “chick flicks” and when he asked what that was we told him kissing movies. He didn’t want to see that at all! Since we have been here we have thought of a number of things we wish we had brought for our friends here.

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