The Last Lessons

Today marks the first day of my last week teaching English in Moldova. It was practically a perfect day. A mixture of Miss Katrina Says (a variation of Simon Says), Hangman, and throwing a ball to ask questions and give answers left both my third formers and sixth formers in waves of laughter.  I wrote questions with the Hangman like “What did you do yesterday?” and had them review past tense with regular and irregular verbs, which we’d just finished a test on a few weeks ago. I seemed to have finally mastered discipline in my third A form by having the class clowns come up to the front of the class and act out demands (wash your face, get dressed, peel a banana). Everyone was so happy by the end of the period that most of them came up and gave me a huge group hug. I could barely breathe from them squeezing me so hard, but it was the best feeling. My partner later told me that they told her they loved our lesson and were overjoyed to have had it. I’m glad I left their last English class with happy memories and in good spirits.

The second and third classes I had, I didn’t go to – I’m pretty sure my other partner took them over. It seems we have come to this silent understanding that sometimes I will teach alone and sometimes she will teach alone, although we’ve never said it. But, also a lot of classes were preparing for end-of-the-year concerts, so English class was put on the back burner, such as one of our fourth form classes, which was fine with me because it gave me time to drink tea and work on job applications and cover (I applied as a Community Engagement intern in Ypsilanti, Michigan, and continued my application to Boxerwood as a Sustainability Manager) – and eat tasty, juicy, homegrown cherries picked from another professor’s garden. Mmmmm, so delicious. I will miss the richness of Moldovan fruits and vegetables.

I also helped one of my partners work on entering grades in an Excel document – I taught her how to use some hot keys to make it easier to delete and enter new information. It’s unfortunate they still have to write in catalogs – I told her about how in the states, everything is entered from the beginning on the computer, so it’s much easier at the end of the year to calculate final grades. I hope in the future Moldova moves towards this method.

My last class of the day was sixth form – which I did alone again, which was fine. They’re a well-behaved class, for the most part. The door was locked, so I got the key from my partner. At first, there were only three students, but one of them called the rest of the class to come back (they were about to skip and go home, the little boogers!). So, we ended up having about ten present. We played games as well – the same as above.

Doamna Svetlana, the biology teacher and probably one of my best friends at our school, came in and joined us. She has been learning English here and there with me, and she also took an intro class at the university in Balti, so she was excited to practice with the class. We had a neat mix of biology and English. First the kids asked her questions, like what is your name, how old are you, what are your favorite animals, etc, which she answered fairly well! Then she asked the kids what the parts of the body are, what trees they know in English, then the same about a flower. I drew the latter on the board in English with a diagram  (a simple picture of a flower with the words labeled: petal, leaves, stem, root, stamen, etc.), which she was fascinated by — and a few students even took photos of it. It was an interesting challenge for me to remember all these parts. I told her, it has been about ten years since I studied biology!

By the end of the class, we were all laughing, and we took some selfies with the kids (of course, it’s a necessary evil). She was excited to mention to the kids too that we have a common interest – ecology. Which comes to show that a love of the earth knows no borders. It reaches across cultures, languages, ages, genders, backgrounds, educations . . . And forming a friendship with both her and our students out of this has been a beautiful thing.

I have two more days, and it’s hard to believe it’s almost over, but I have made such good memories both here and my former school in Corlateni. I am forever grateful of the relationships I’ve been able to make with my students and colleagues.

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