This week started a change of pace around town and the library where I work. September marks the start of the school year for Moldovan students. Throughout the country every school has a First Bell ceremony. This year, First Bell was on September 3rd, Monday. First Bell originated during the Soviet times, but is now a truly Moldovan tradition. I was fortunate enough to experience this cultural tradition at the school in my village. Before the ceremony started, all the students were grouped together by class. To start the ceremony, the youngest and newest students were walked in by the oldest students (9th graders at my school). They were paraded around and then speeches were given. The Deputy Director of the school, Mayor, local rayon councilor, local police field officer, and I all gave short speeches wishing the students good luck in the upcoming year. Yes, I gave a speech! I was pretty nervous! I essentially introduced myself, said what I would be doing here, and wished them success this school year. Everyone was very attentive, patient, and understanding with me as I attempted to speak their language.
The youngest students were given books, sang to us, and then some gave little rehearsed speeches. Our MCs were two 9th grade students who helped keep the event organized and moving along. There was another 9th grader who recited what I believe to be a poem, and then the final part of the ceremony occurred. This was possibly my favorite aspect of the ceremony, in part because it was the only part I 100% understood. To officially ring the First Bell, a 9th grade male student lifted up a new first year female student onto his shoulder. The 1st year student then rung a bell as they walked around the other students. The ceremony was a neat way to welcome students back and to start the school year off on a positive note. After the ceremony, school officially started, but not before students made sure to give teachers and others (like myself) flowers. Receiving the flowers made me feel very welcomed by the community. (Below are pictures from this event.)
Work has started picking up now that school has started. When I first started working at the library a few weeks back, the only people who were consistently showing up were adults needing photocopies or Skype-ing family in other countries. This past week, everyday there has been dozens of kids coming and going from the library. For now, the kids are playing on the computer or there to get books, but in the future, hopefully, they will be there for the English Club I will run (You’ll be hearing more about this in a later post).
As First Bell marked the end of summer for students, it seems the weather has also decided to swing into toamna (Autumn). I am not sure if this weather will stay, but I am thoroughly enjoying it. A crisp breeze; the sky with an abundance of clouds; the feeling of oncoming rain; the rustle of leaves falling and swirling in piles on the ground; all these sensations bring me back to falls in the Midwest. In Indiana, fall brings with it apple cider, bonfires, hayrides, corn-mazes, and a tapestry of artwork from trees as their leaves change colors. Fall is one of my favorite times of the year and although I think there are still more warmer days ahead (and a few weeks before Autumn officially gets here), for now, I am looking forward to what new cultural experiences will come with this change. Until next time, enjoy your cup of joe.