Sunday, March 4, 2007

Intro to Social Work Students

Preston at Mission House II

Sunday, March 3, 2007

We are home!!! We got to DFW Saturday night at 6:30. We were met by Debbie, Susan, Laura, Frances, Ronnie, Dena, and Oakley! They had roses, big signs, and red white and blue star necklaces! What a great welcome home! We had been up for 24 hours and had been flying 21 hours. We really were not very sleepy. We all went to eat Mexican food and then Debbie drove to Waco.

We were told to be at the Chisinau airport at 3:45 Saturday morning for a 5:45 flight to Frankfurt. We got there and the airport wasn’t even open! They began checking people in at 4:15 and we were first in line. In true Moldovan form they had not put Preston on the passenger list. He had a ticket but just wasn’t on their list. After getting all that settled we said good- by to Alex and Vadim and headed to Frankfurt. What good friends to get up very early both Friday and Saturday to get us to the airport.

When we were in the Chisinau airport we met a man that had been teaching at the Moldovan Bible Institute. He was a member of the Delta Crown Club so he took us to their club room in Frankfurt where they arranged our boarding pass and we had a very comfortable place to wait for our flight. He travels all over Eastern Europe teaching in various Bible colleges. He was a very interesting person and had some good suggestions about teaching in Moldova. Interestingly, he never told us his name. We asked him if he had a business card and he said he doesn’t carry cards because he goes places where he doesn’t want people to know how to contact him. Preston did give him his card and asked him to contact us with information about having textbooks translated to Romanian and Russian in Moldova.

We also met a couple, Jim and Elaine Hamilton who had been in a village north of Chisinau conducting a medical clinic. As we talked we found that they had also stayed with Alex and Lucia in Chisinau a couple of years ago. They go to Moldova every three weeks for a week.

Our flight from Frankfurt to Atlanta was very pleasant. We didn’t have seats together but Preston did have a bulkhead aisle seat so he was very happy! Plenty of leg room! Genie’s seat was near the back of the plane. The seat next to Preston was vacant so we don’t know why they didn’t give us seats together. A lady with a baby was in the window seat by Preston. He asked her if she would mind if Genie came to sit there or if she was going to use the seat for her baby. She said it would be fine so we did get to sit together. Several times during the flight we helped take care of the baby. She was a really good and we enjoyed her. They were traveling from Frankfurt to California!

We had 90 minutes between flights in Atlanta and thought we would probably miss of DFW flight. We had to go through customs, get our luggage and then have it re-checked. It was a much easier process than we had thought it would be and we got to the gate in time. In fact the pilot was late so we even had a short wait.

The plane to DFW was a very small plane (Delta Connection) but we had bulkhead seats again so we were comfortable. Even though that flight wasn’t the best, if we ever go back to Moldova we will try to fly Delta if we can get a flight with the same type aircraft we had from Frankfurt to Atlanta. Also the Frankfurt airport is much better than the Vienna airport. We also found that we could fly through Rome which would make a great place to take a couple of extra days layover!

We slept until 10:00 this morning and feel good. We are hoping that we will be able to adjust quickly to Texas time. We really like flying in daylight! The only time it was dark was about an hour from Chisinau to Frankfurt.

Thanks to all for you who have followed our Moldova adventure through our blog and for all your e-mail messages to us. E-mail made this trip so much easier for us! We loved hearing from everyone!

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Snow Pictures Around Our House

Our side yard

Our front yard.

The street in front of our house

Friday, March 2, 2007

Friday, March 2, 2007

Our last day with our Russian students was very delightful. They got into a lot of discussions that were quite interesting. Many times it was the examples we used that they wanted to talk about. They are very interested in how things are done in the U.S. They asked how we like President Bush and they all thought the Iraq war was a good thing. They also are extremely concerned about Muslims. One person even said we need to get rid of all the Muslims and the only way to do that is to fight because that is all they know. She said if you try to do anything peacefully they will just kill you. I know they have much more contact with Muslims than we do but they are very hostile toward them.

After class several of the students dressed in their native costumes and sang songs for us. They also brought some cookies for everyone. They took many pictures and just wanted to stay and talk with us. They all kept asking when we would be back and begged us to come next year. After our rather tough start, they turned out to be very enjoyable students. They continued to say “Thank you for the lesson” after each class. They were most appreciative.

The difference in teaching the graduates and the undergraduates is even more apparent to us now than when we started with the undergraduates. Neither group of undergraduates was nearly as engaged with the material as were the graduates. As we have reflected on it, we think it was because the graduates had not only completed their bachelor degree, they had also had several years of social work experience. The Helping Process and the skills provided them with a framework on which to tie their experience. We think they also feel more of a sense of urgency, “Wow, this is something we can use tomorrow!”

It also seems strange to us that in all three groups, it was in the discussion around scientific evaluation that they realized social work was more than saving souls. It happened again yesterday with the Russian undergraduates. With each group it has occurred at the same place; at the point we start pushing them to come up with measurable objectives. We introduce writing objectives in the third step of the process, planning; but with these students it has not happened there. When we revisit objectives in the evaluation step, it is there that they begin to question the ways they have been thinking about the primary purpose of social work. We are anxious to discuss this with our colleagues who teach this course when we get back. It is interesting that it has happened three times. One student yesterday commented, “I have lots of questions about the way I have been thinking about social work.” Another said, “Thank you for helping me think differently about social work. I have learned so much from your teaching.” This came from students that we didn’t think were paying a lot of attention. I (Preston) think that what I thought was distraction was really a lot of reflection. (What more could any teacher ask for.) Have we just been missing out and this happens to other teachers in the U.S; or are these students really different? It is certainly no question that they seem genuinely appreciative of our effort to teach them.

The family had a special dinner for us Thursday night with a delicious rice dish with pineapple and chicken in the rice, sushi, eggplant rolls. Inna also made brownies and we had ice cream. It was all very good.

Friday morning we got up at 4 am to go to the airport. We got there to find out that our plane had been cancelled and we couldn’t get out until Saturday morning at 5:45. They claimed there was a problem with the plane. It sort of reminded us of American Eagle from Dallas to Waco. We were already dreading the long flight and now we will probably be in left over seats; maybe not even together. We have been told by several people that Delta uses old equipment on this route. We fly to Frankfurt, Germany and then to Atlanta and on to DFW. We have to be at the airport at 3:45 Saturday morning. Our internal clocks should be really a mess by the time we get home!

Alex is planning activities for us today since we have a stay over. He is going to take us on a tour of an underground winery this afternoon. That should be interesting and we also have fun with him.

So here’s hoping we get to come home tomorrow, but don’t look for us at Lakeshore Sunday morning!!!

We’ll see all of you soon!