Well, I realize that this summer – and now the following few weeks that have whirred right through fall and into winter for a second consecutive year – has found me pretty delinquent on here.
As of this summer, the excuse was travel. I ain't gonna apologize for that.
As of the last few weeks, my excuse is also sort of travel, as I was in Minnesota for 10 days. However, more recently, I've actually been a bit busy.
My second year of school has started, which has meant a few things for me:
First off, I can't tell you how much smoother it's been this time around. My language is better, I know my colleagues better, I know my students better. It's been wonderful how much easier the start to this second year has gone.
Secondly, this year – the last one for me in Tulgheș and for Peace Corps in Romania – I've decided to do whatever I can to help as many students in our community get some sort of English instruction. You see, we're 3,000 people here, and that includes five kindergartens, five elementary schools (1-4) and one middle school (5-8). For all those students, there is ONE full-time English teacher, aka my inimitable counterpart Ovidiu. Now I'll probably save thoroughly extolling Ovidiu's virtues for a different time, but I'll say that I sincerely look up to him as a man, husband, father and person. Although he wears all those hats well, it's still impossible for him, as a teacher, to get to every student.
That's where I come in.
Essentially, in addition to the 16 hours per week we're mandated to have as TEFL volunteers, I've taken on 11 more with the kindergarten; "zero grade" (new this year, between kindergarten and first grade); adults; an English club and my American Football club, which just means we play football an hour a week. I won't be able to get to everyone from K-8, but we're going to get to as many as possible to at least give them a small push they wouldn't have gotten otherwise.
I'm also still working on some ongoing projects. There's a video project where we're trying to get to Romanian athletes to have them record something in both Romanian and English about why it's important to learn English. We've already scored THE Nadia Comaneci (English, Romanian) and have distributed it throughout the country.
I'm also working with a few talented teachers on attempting to write an updated English curriculum for kindergartners. The goal is to leave something behind that's an easily packaged, all-encompassing plan that can be implemented even by a teacher who doesn't speak any English, as is often the case for those over 35-40 in Romania.
Finally, we're still working on getting Tulgheș featured on www.villagelife.ro, which I'll post more about when the information goes up. All the information is written; we're just putting final touches on the photos and packaging everything.
So why did I write this blog post so unabashedly patting myself on the back? Well, at first I was using it to provide an excuse for what was originally planned to be a concise (dismissive) post. Now, looking back at the copy that has somehow spewed out of me this evening, I see I'd be better served to use it as an excuse for a future that might find these things more infrequent.
Basically, I'm going to be busy this year. I've decided that, after a refreshing trip home, I'm going to make the most of these final nine months. I’m going to trim some of the distractions and extracurricular activities – yes, blogtopia, that means you – and devoting whatever I can to going out with a bang.