Tuesday, November 3, 2009

ne daţi sau nu ne daţi

This is what my students said to me when I started the Halloween unit in school about a week and a half before the holiday. It is also what they said to me when they came knocking at the door the night before Halloween. The Romanian version of "Trick or Treat" actually translates to "give to us or don't give to us." It's not exactly the same, but I got the point. Halloween is considered an "American" holiday here. It is mostly known about from TV, films, and volunteer English teachers from the USA.

My counterpart has been doing a good job in bringing a cultural element to her English classes by celebrating Halloween, Thanksgiving, and St. Valentines day in previous years. She also happens to be the one that applied to get an American volunteer in her school. My job in the Romanian Halloween party business was to bring personal experiences as an American helping to celebrate an "American" holiday. My most recent Halloween experience had been two righteous parties last year posing as half of an award winning pair, Jay and Silent Bob (credit to Silent Bob for not speaking during the entire party). I had a feeling my Halloween experience this year would be quite I bit different and it might be best to leave Jay back in Corning.

Thursday I had three events on the weekend's agenda but I still hadn't found a costume. Looking through photos online I found a quick and easy solution, Julius Caesar. I was a pro at tying the sheet up by the end of the weekend. I picked some leaves off the bush outside for a crown and I pulled my sandals out of storage to complete my costume.

Anticipating the party on Friday was a hallway full of students painting each others faces while I was working with others at putting the finishing touches on the room's decorations. There were some amazing costumes. We looked at a presentation that I had prepared in which the picture of the Haunted House was the main attraction and then I played a scary 5 minute video that a student of mine prepared about characters in horror films. What is a Halloween party without bobbing for apples? It was one of the hits of our party. What is a Romanian Halloween party without diplomas? I received my first Romanian diploma on Friday. The party was a hit, but we'll make it better next year. Later on that evening I attended site-mate's party which was very similar just with small students, and more Jack O'Lanters. I left his party with a candy bar of which I had no choice but to give up when a group of Trick-or-Treaters knocked on my door that night. Students from my class who had seen me outside of my block on previous occasions decided to make Jack O'Lanteres and dress up in costume seeking me out for some free candy. I gave it to them even though I thought that my neighbors, who were getting knocks on their doors, might not be as welcoming to the tradition.

My big Halloween excitement was yet to come. Castelul Corvinestilor was my next destination. Google it, the images are enough to give you goosebumps. Apparently Vlad Tepes (inspiration for Bram Stoker's "Dracula") had been imprisoned at Castelul Corvinestilor for 7 years. That's right, I attended a Romanian high school Halloween party at an old, spooky, and possibly haunted castle in Transylvania. The party itself was similar to the other two that I had attended including presentations, games, contests, diplomas, and dancing. I took the liberty at the start of the party to take some photos of the inside courtyard of the castle. I can see myself returning to the castle to check out more of the rooms. We ended up returning to my friends place that night with two pumpkins and supplies for making some vin fiert. Wine and pumpkin carving closed out my Romanian Halloween experience.

Overall it was a very coo experience, similar in some ways and different in other ways, to a Halloween at home in NY. It was nice to see the enthusiasm that the students had to get dressed up for a different kind of experience.

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