Monday, August 27, 2012

Ziua Independentei

Wishing my friends in Moldova a Happy Independence Day! Today is the 21st anniversary of Moldova's independence. La Multi Ani!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Around Chisinau

Enjoying a McFlurry at the McDonalds in Botanica.  This trolley has been re-fitted to host birthday parties.

The McDonald's also boasts a "bouncy house"

A back-to-school market was set up in Cathedral Park. We found several Winx treats for Peggy, including this messenger bag. (Winx is the new obsession.)

The Mayor arranged for this life-size chess set to be placed in Cathedral Park. Peggy is contemplating her next move.

On our last morning in Chisinau, we break down and pay this bear 10 lei for a picture with him.  As soon as we take the photos, he takes off his head to make a cell phone call (while still with Peggy).  I made the mistake of muttering that you would never see Mickey Mouse do that at DisneyWorld. Peggy pointed out "That's because Mickey Mouse is real."

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Wave Week Moldova: Guest Lecture

I was delighted to be invited to speak to the Wave Week 2012 volunteers during their "Spark the Wave: Igniting Teen Volunteers" camp in Vadul lui Voda.

"The Mission of SPARK THE WAVE is to empower, train, and mentor the next generation of leaders who will impact the world through a lifelong commitment to community service"

I spoke with the Wave Week volunteers about the importance of volunteerism and about integration of civic engagement into the curriculum in the U.S.

Of course, this meant they heard a mini-US Constitutional Law lecture. I wanted to first discuss the concept of "citizen" in the U.S. Constitution and the rights (and responsibilities) of citizenship in the U.S. before moving on to a portrait of civic health in America -- and efforts to improve civic health by integrating civic engagement in the curriculum. I discussed the objective of my work with the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship (conducting teacher trainings to implement the new Sandra Day O'Connor Civic Education Act which aims to incorporate civic education in K-12 curriculum in Florida) and my work expanding the Citizen Scholar Program at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg (first as Founding Director of the Center for Civic Engagement, now as Associate Director of the Bishop Center for Ethical Leadership and Civic Engagement).

It was through a connection with  a Wave Week 2011 volunteer (my colleague Svetlana's daughter Beatrice) that we developed one of  my daughter Peggy's community service projects in Chisinau (at Casa Gavroche) -- so I also had a personal experience to share about the ripple effects of their community service projects in Moldova that related to civic engagement in the K-12 curriculum in the U.S. (Peggy's volunteer work in Moldova was a partial fulfillment of her gifted class Kids Care assignment in Madeira Beach, FL.) (See earlier posts on this blog for more information about Peggy's Kids Care projects in Moldova) 

For more information about Wave Week Moldova, see

For more data about civic life in the US, see

For more about civic health in Florida and for civic education curriculum resources, see the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship site,

For more about the Bishop Center of Ethical Leadership and Civic Engagement at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and our efforts to develop the Citizen Scholar Program see

Wave Week Moldova Country Director Alina

participating in an exercise that was part of non-discrimination training

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


I also interviewed officials at USAID to discuss rule of law initiatives, including a number of programs to improve court administration.

"The Rule of Law Institutional Strengthening Program works to improve the institutional capacity, transparency and accountability of key justice sector institutions in order to guarantee the independence and increase the effectiveness and professionalism of the judiciary. The Program will (1) enhance the effectiveness, transparency and accountability of the Moldovan judiciary; (2) support development of a professional judicial cadre in Moldova and (3) increase the capacity of civil society organizations to monitor and advocate for justice sector reform and improve public legal awareness."

We also talked about USAID programs to strengthen civil society. Not the focus of my current research, but, given my passion for increasing volunteerism and civic engagement, I couldn't help myself. Perhaps a future project....
 For more about USAID programming in Moldova, see

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Chisinau Zoo

It was a cold, rainy day on our last Sunday in Chisinau...but that did not stop us from visiting the zoo, as planned.  This was our last opportunity to see the zoo before heading back home.

Click here for more information at the Zoo

Moldovan Cuisine

At every opportunity we enjoyed Moldovan cuisine. I have already posted photos of mamaliga, shopski salad, zeama, and pelmeni that we ordered at restaurants.

We were so fortunate to have good friends to cook for us delicious Moldovan cuisine this summer!  Many thanks to dear friends Larisa, Diana, and Svetlana!!

You'll be jealous when you see the photos posted below!

I am hosting a Cooking Club (at home in Madeira Beach) in November, and I plan to have an "Eastern European cuisine" theme-- pierogies or chicken paprikash or goulash or borscht or whatever my friends might want to bring from a broadly defined region.

For my part, I wanted to finally learn how to make a few of my favorite Moldovan dishes.  (Earlier this spring I bought Romanian and Russian cookbooks thru, but I have not had the time to try the recipes.  I hope the Cooking Club event will give me an "excuse" and a "deadline" to finally get in the kitchen!)

I will try to make pelmeni, zeama, and, of course, shopskii.  I'll post an update in November!

Larisa baked a traditional Gagauz dish for our picnic at the cave monasteries in Tipova

Peggy's pelmeni....with a little (a lot!!) of help from Larisa

Peggy and Larisa's pelmeni

Diana's mamaliga and from our tasting at Chateau Varteley

Svetlana's mamaliga

Svetlana's friptura

OK. This is not Moldovan cuisine, but this Russian (or Ukranian?) version of cocoa puffs has the nutrition label in TEN languages, not one of which is English. Although this did provide good material for social studies lessons over breakfast.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Chateau Vartely

Moldova is known for its wines. And the wine-making industry is a major part of the Moldovan economy. 

See this site for more information from the Moldova Wine Guild:

Part of my work while in Moldova was to work out the itinerary and all logistics for my Study Abroad course that I am developing for the Spring 2013 semester.  

Excursions will include visits to fortresses, monasteries, wineries. 

I had previously visited Milestii Mici -- see earlier posts on this blog from November 2010 and  -- which is quite extraordinary. (It still holds the Guinness World Record for the largest wine collection in the world.)

During this summer stay, I wanted to visit Chateau Vartely.

Chateau Vartely is near the cave monasteries of Orhei Vechi, and it would be easy to combine an excursion to Orhei and Chateau Vartely on the same day. (Which is what we did)

We very much enjoyed the tour and the tasting and the relaxing lunch on the balcony.

I look forward to the day when we can buy wines from Chateau Vartely in Florida!

For more information about Chateau Vartely, click here

Orheil Vechi

Here are some photos of Orhei Vechi, an amazing "museum complex in the open air."

The site includes remains of medieval fortresses, citadesls, palaces, churches, and Turkish baths from the 14th to 16th centuries A.D., remains of Geto-Dacian citadel, sanctuary, fortification walls from the 4th-3rd centuries B.C., a traditional peasant house from the 19th-20th century A.D., and rock-carved monastery from the 15th-18th centuries.

Please see this website for detailed information about Orhei Vechi:

There is a small museum that houses artifacts found at this site

the Turkish baths