Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Whew...what a week!!!

As you saw in last week's blog, this week was the start of all of our yearly programs here in Romania. We hit the ground running Monday morning and didn't really slow down all week. Let me just dive in and share some of the moments from the week.

After a busy Monday with meetings and planning for the year, our after-school program started with students on Tuesday. We had 53 children take the beginning-of-the-year placement test! That's a record! By Wednesday afternoon, we had the children divided into groups based on ability, and we started going over rules, expectations, and procedures all together. We also spent some time with our own groups getting to know the students better. Claudiu and Cristina are back as teachers this year and they have a middle level group and advanced group, respectively. I have 24 students on my class list (although the most I had in one day was 20). My students are all in the 5th-8th grade and do not know how to read and write. There are some in this group that do not know how to write their own name. I have a big task ahead of me, but I'm excited about the challenge. It's also been a great opportunity to use some of the ideas and skills from my teaching life in the States. I've already done running records of reading (a common type of assessment in the States) with many of the children, and we are using strategies that I learned in the States to talk about the letters, the sounds they make, and how to read and write them. I'll write more on all of this another time...for now there's still so much to talk about.

Tuesday and Wednesday were also big days for the start of our English programs. We are starting new groups in another village (Gornesti) this year. Tuesday night, Katie and I were able to talk with those interested and administer a placement test. It was fun to talk to people about their interest in learning our language even though it's not the language of their country! We repeated this meeting and assessment on Wednesday night with a group of new students in Reghin. This week Katie will start teaching lessons to beginners and advanced speakers in both communities.

In addition to all of this, we were starting children's meetings, taxiing people, and preparing for church meetings on Sunday, while also readjusting to our school-year schedules and routines. We are both exhausted, but we are optimistic about the coming weeks and months of these programs.

Just another note, last week a 15-year-old boy died in Apalina when he walked under a high voltage electric line with his fishing pole. This is a boy who occasionally attended our after-school program two years ago. His death was a big shock to the Apalina community. It has also been an eye-opener for me that we need to talk more about general safety in our program. Please be in prayer for us and the community as we deal with this tragedy. Since this boy's death last Thursday, another person has already died in the same spot, bringing the total number of victims of this particular electric line to 9.  You can imagine our frustration and concern about this.

As always, thank you for your support and prayers for us as we work here in Romania.

Love, Paul
Cristina and her group
Claudiu's group as they share their writing assignment
Paul's group working hard on their first assignment of the day
Working on reading and writing
Paul with a part of his group

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