head scarves

Ciprian, the man of my host family, sings at one of the orthodox churches in my village for a job.  On Sunday mornings and other times (like Thursday nights and Friday mornings) he dresses up and hops on his old-style german bicycle and pedals to the church.  
A couple weeks ago I told him I wanted to hear him sing and he told me the best time to come would be Friday morning, between 8 and 10.  I asked, "Why do you have slujba (service/work) on Friday morning?"  
He told me, "The other church in the village started having slujba on Friday morning, so our priest decided to start doing it."  
"Oh." I nod my head.
Ciprian explained that on Friday  mornings, only a few bunicas (grandmothers) come to slujba and I wouldn't have to do anything, just observe.  
So I walked to the Biserica (church) at around 9:30 and I knew slujba was still going on because there are speakers outside letting all the passers-by know that they are missing a slujba.  
I opened the door and snuck into the church.  Orthodox bisericas do not have pews, just a large room with carpets on the floor and icons painted on all the walls and high ceilings.  There are a few high-backed wooden chairs lining the room.  I stood indecisively at the doorway, trying to find an inconspicuous place in the back of the room.  My uncertainty caused the 4 bunicas that were knealing on the rug to beckon me over to them.  Now that they had noticed me I couldn't ignore them, so I tiptoed over and kneeled next to their kneeling, bent bodies.  One of them told me something I couldn't understand, but as I was looking at her, I noticed that her and all the 3 other church goers were wearing head coverings.  I immediately scrambled in my bag to pull out a scarf and throw it over my head.  The bunicas went back to crossing themselves and accompanying Ciprian's singing under their breath.  
After a few minutes, the bunicas stood up and the entire kindergarten class of my village came through the door!  Even they knew enough to have their heads covered.  So much for friday morning being a slujba with only a few bunicas.  
The priest walked out of his area in the front of the room with an incense burner and swung it towards the children on one side of the room and me and the bunicas on the other side.  The sweet, pungent smell filled the room.  
Suddenly all the children and the bunicas, who had taken it upon themselves to teach the children proper church etiquette, walked toward the front of the room and knelt for the priest to bless them with what looked to me like a golden lamp.  After standing indecisively for a few seconds I also walked towards the front of the room and knelt with the flock.  When the priest got to me, he looked at me and said, "Sunteti nu din biserica noi!" (you are not from our church), I looked over at Ciprian who was also kneeling and the priest seemed like he was going to pass up blessing me.  But then he leaned over and touched my scarf-covered head with the bottom of the lamp.  After everyone had been blessed, the bunicas started standing, so I also stood and walked as quietly as I could out of the building.
So much for observing unobservedly.  I'm sure Ciprian will have some explaining to do to his priest about my ignorance.  Being a foreigner forgives me for so many things.  


Romanian 6th graders

6th graders are the same everywhere. A couple of my students don't seem aware they are in school. I imagine that in their minds they are floating along, doing their thing and every once in a while some adult figure disrupts their oblivion by taking away their mp3 player or making them sit closer to the front of the room.
Today I split the 6th grade class into two teams. This takes longer than you would think because only two students in the class trust their minds enough to understand my half english half hand motion instructions. After I say something in English, these students translate my instructions into Romanian. I listen to the Romanian to make sure they are saying the right thing. Also, I'm not sure they play many "games" in class.
But we played a game today and the class was split. I allowed the students to pick the names of their teams.
The two teams decided on 50-cent and Snoop Dog as their team names.
So I rest my case, 6th graders are the same everywhere.


I wake up to lots of sun shining through the window
and I have a map on my wall with a dotted line to indicate where I've been in Romania
and I use internet sporadically.
and I went on a camping trip with some students last week and they wore bandannas around their necks
and responded to the whistle
and caught tiny minnows in the stream.
and tomorrow, Monday the 15th, is my first day of school.  officially.