Monday, December 31, 2012

NEH Summer Institute Eurasian Studies at Columbia University June 2011

As I was moving offices, going through all of my files, I realized that I never posted on this blog about the

NEH 2011 Summer Institute: America Engages Eurasia at Columbia University 

that I participated in back in June 2011.

As I am preparing for my Moldova Study Abroad course, I am drawing from the materials and resources I was able to obtain while at the institute.

So I thought "better late, than never," and I am posting about this workshop from a year and a half ago!

While at the institute, I participated in seminars all day and worked at the Columbia law library all night, accessing books and materials for my research project.  

The Co-Directors did an amazing job organizing this Institute. 

Each morning we had speakers, who approached the topic from a wide range of disciplines/perspectives. During the working lunches we had the opportunity to get to know fellow Institute scholars, the speakers, or meet with special luncheon guests. Lunch was followed by discussion/panel of discussants on the morning's topics. The Co-Directors had each of our interests/backgrounds/topics constantly in mind -- and during the breaks and over lunch -- they would be scurrying around to scholars, giving them someone's contact information or a book or suggesting one of the guests they should be sure to meet or a library/venue they should be sure to visit. It was truly impressive. The Co-Directors were constantly thinking about ways for each of the scholars to make the most of the Institute and their research time in NYC. Constantly. I very much appreciated the format of the working lunches -- assigning table hosts -- making sure that we each were sitting at different tables every day. Scholars were selected as table hosts pursuant to their research interests and those of the visiting speakers/discussants/luncheon guests for the day. This provided an excellent opportunity to network and to have more extensive discussions about the topics covered during the formal sessions.

I also was impressed by the cohort of scholars selected to participate in the Institute. Such diversity -- from graduate students to Full Professor/Chairs, from all regions of the US, from all kinds of institutions (or no institutional affiliation), from countries in Eurasia and from the US, from a variety of disciplines.... We learned perhaps as much from each other as from the speakers/discussants. I have participated in inter-disciplinary workshops and panels in the past, and sometimes it has been more of a challenge than one might expect to maintain a collegial environment when scholars approach the same topic from different methodological/pedagogical perspectives. Our group always maintained a collegial, friendly, thoughtful dialogue. Everyone showed a great deal of respect for each of the scholars, and each scholar was valued as having something to contribute from his/her perspective/experience. 

It was truly a pleasure -- to be in seminars all day and at the library all night -- to be able to "eat, sleep, and drink" my research project during the Institute. While it was a hardship that I could not bring my family to join me for all/part of the institute at the university housing, in the end, I think the sacrifice was worth it, in terms of the late nights and early mornings I was able to spend, un-interrupted, working on my research -- as well as the opportunities to socialize with institute participants outside of our seminars.
The American Girl Doll Store on 5th Avenue....yes, I stopped by to pick up a treat for Peggy

Institute participants took the LIRR out to Long Beach, where we enjoyed a lovely reception at the condo of one of our Institute Co-Directors

New York Public Library. We had a private tour through a fabulous exhibit of NYPL collection in honor of the 100 Year Anniversary of the library

NYPL. I am now a card-carrying member!

Butler Library at night. This is where most of our seminars were held. My dorm was right next door.

on the stacks at Butler Library. Shelves and shelves of books about Moldova. In Romanian, Russian, French, German, and even English.

My dorm (Carman Hall) is the tall building behind the modern building in the foreground

Columbia University

Among the stacks at Columbia's law library. Added to my PPT slide (when we discuss this case in Law and Politics)

NYC subway stop at 116th St

Columbia University

Eloise at the Plaza

Grand Central Terminal

At the Lehman Social Science library

I stopped by the Moldovan mission to the UN

my shelf, at the law library

NEH Summer Institute on Eurasian Studies participants and Co-Directors, on the balcony of the Columbia Faculty House, where we enjoyed our daily working lunches

At the Romanian Consulate. I was able to borrow books about Moldova at the Romanian Cultural Institute library (next door)

Went to the Sunnyside neighborhood in Queens for dramatic performance by Ion Caramitru of works by Eminescu. Picked up 2 different Romanian language newspapers. This one features the results of the mayoral run-off election in Chisinau

Enjoyed dinner at a Romanian restaraunt in Queens (the Bucharest). Pictured is my tochitura and mamaliga. (Also enjoyed the ciorba perisoare and papanasi) Yum! The only thing that would have made the meal more enjoyable:  wine from Moldova

UN Security Council Chamber

Outside UN HQ

Outside UN HQ

Columbia University's law school

Sunday, December 30, 2012

LEGO Donations to Kindergartens in Moldova

We just spent a fabulous day at LEGOLAND Florida --and we have been having fun playing with Peggy's LEGO "Friends."  It is wonderful to read about the LEGO donations to kindergartens in Moldova!

Click this link for the full article:

Lego Donations to Kindergartens in Moldova

More and more kindergartens in Moldova are provided with cognitive toys for child development

Bulboaca, Anenii-Noi, 27 December 2012 - Children from kindergarten No.1 and No.2 in the village of Bulboaca, Anenii Noi district, received a set of LEGO and DUPLO toys as part of a public-private partnership project between UNICEF and the LEGO Foundation, with support of Danish Embassy in Moldova and the Ministry of Education.

In total, more than 57, 000 children from 517 kindergartens and community centers in the country, including those for children with special educational needs, will receive such toys valuing 1,5 million dollars. The Ministry of Education will distribute the toys to preschools from the most vulnerable localities.

Kindergartens in Moldova, especially in poor rural communities, do not have books and toys to develop children's creativity. A UNICEF study shows that every fourth child grows up without having toys and books. LEGO and DUPLO toys are recognized internationally for their quality to stimulate the intellectual and social development of children. The donation will fill this gap.

"Both learning and play are very important and it’s a right of every child. We are pleased to see that more and more children in Moldova have the chance to go to kindergarten and to enjoy better conditions for education. Toys we donated today will allow children to have fun and learn at the same time," said during the donation ceremony Alexandra Yuster, UNICEF Representative in Moldova.

The Minister of Education Maia Sandu said in her welcoming speech that LEGO toys help children become creative, inventive and teaches them to work together. "I'm sure that children from this kindergarten will be delighted by this gift. I want to thank our colleagues from UNICEF and the Embassy of Denmark and Lego Foundation for this gift, "said Mrs. Sandu.

This is the second tranche of a larger project aiming to provide cognitive toys to preschool institutions in Moldova. Last year other 400 kindergartens have also received toys that have benefited around 27,000 children.

In Moldova there are 1440 kindergartens. 22% of children aged 3-6 years are not enrolled in preschool education.

Peggy's Kids Care Presentation: Moldova!

Peggy made a presentation in her gifted class about her Kids Care Project.  She completed 2 community service projects while we were in Moldova this summer.

at Casa Gavroche in Chisinau (donating art supplies and working on a project with the kids)


at the rec center in Telenesti (donating soccer balls and sports equipment and playing soccer with the kids)

(More about these projects, including videos, is posted on this blog)

Peggy's Display Board. On the left, info. about Casa Gavroche, and on the right, info. about Peace Corps project in Telenesti. In the middle, info about Moldova and about Peggy's party/donations

Show and tell:  Moldovan lei

Show and tell: Moldovan flag

proud Mama

Northeastern Political Science Association Conference in Boston, November 2012

Larisa Patlis (Carnegie Fellow and professor at ULIM) and I presented a paper at the Northeast Political Science Association Annual Meeting in Boston (at the Omni Parker House Hotel) in November.

In our paper -- "Devolutionary Trends in the Republic of Moldova: The Case of the Gagauz Yeri" -- we studied the devolved region in the Republic of Moldova: Gagauzia.  Many people know Moldova for the frozen Transnistrian conflict, although Gagauzia is not less important. We provided an overview of the developments in Gagauzia from the proclamation of the Gagauz Republic and the conflict it generated, to the present state of affairs in Gagauz Autonomy. We evaluated the problems and the prospects for devolution in Moldova, identifying some acute issues in Chisinau-Komrat relations. 

I had tried to warn Larisa that there may not be that many people who come to hear our paper; sometimes there may only be a handful of scholars in the audience at any given panel. Much to my surprise, we presented our paper to a packed salon!

Boston Common, America's first public garden 1634

Our presentation at the Northeastern Political Science Association

Enjoying the walk around Faneuil Hall Marketplace....they were decorating the Christmas tree that night

Old South Meeting House

At the Union Oyster House....we sat in the Women of the Revolution booth

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Institute of International Education CIES Presentation at USFSP

Our International Affairs office sponsored a presentation by the Director of Scholars Program at the Institute for International Education at CIES (the Council for International Exchange of Scholars). She spoke about the different kinds of Fulbright opportunities for faculty. There were many faces in the audience that I did not recognize. It turned out that we invited faculty from local colleges to attend.

I brought Larisa, Carnegie Fellow, with me to the presentation. I hope some day she will return to the U.S. as a Fulbrighter!

Something I hadn't expected when I first arrived in Moldova....the amazing worldwide network of Fulbrighters.  Fulbrighters at my host institution (ULIM) and at other universities in Chisinau welcomed me and included me in their scholarly community.  We have developed meaningful, long-term partnerships over the years since my initial Fulbright. You can learn more about our teaching, research, and community service collaboration on this blog.


Due to popular demand, Larisa and I offered a second  EXPLORE MOLDOVA presentation at USFSP. This time, we met in the Academic Affairs Conference Room.

Larisa describes ULIM, our host university in Moldova (you can see 20th anniversary photo on the laptop)

I must find this board game!

The Republic of Moldova: European Country in Transition, USF Word in Tampa

USF World in Tampa hosted a presentation of EXPLORE MOLDOVA, about Moldova and the Spring Break Study Abroad course.

We were pleased to meet with some of the faculty and students from the Russia and Eurasia Studies Program at USF Tampa. The Fulbright Scholar from Russia (whom we met at the USF World Fulbright Breakfast) joined us for the presentation as well. 

One of the students who attended, an International Studies major and Russian minor, will be traveling with us to Chisinau!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

USFSP 9th Annual Multicultural Feast -- SARMALE

Larisa and I (well, mostly Larisa) participated in the 9th Annual Multicultural Feast at USFSP.

This event, sponsored by our Office of Multicultural Affairs, included traditional Moldovan cuisine this year -- because Larisa made the most delicious Sarmale!  And created a fabulous brochure and poster. (See below. If you click on the photos (to enlarge them), you will be able to read the text in the brochure.)

The only thing that could have improved this feast: a glass of homemade Moldovan wine.

our display about Moldovan cuisine and Larisa's delicious SARMALE

tasting Larisa's sarmale! with Dean Bill Heller

with Larisa at the  Multicultural Feast....the Sarmale went like proverbial hotcakes, so there were none left for this photo...

Larisa made fabulous flyers about the sarmale

and Larisa also designed this poster for our display