The Friday before Teachers’ Day the 12th grade class put on a production for all the teachers. The room was decorated for fall. Leaves covered the floor and autumn flowers adorned the tables alongside baskets of cookies and cups of tea. At the end of the night the mayor thanked each teacher with kind words and an envelope holding 50 lei (about $4.50). I tried to refuse at least three times, but with my limited language and the worry of looking ungrateful, I sided with the idea of taking the money and using it for my students.

I showed up to the school on October 5, Teachers’ Day, and noticed a path of flowers through the gate, up the stairs, and into the school. Once inside I saw “teachers” consulting about lesson plans. This is a day when the 12th grade students give the teachers a break. They are the “teachers” for the day. They teach, discipline, and give homework. The real teachers can either sit in the back of the class and observe or meet up in the teachers’ lounge with other teachers or attend one or all of the many productions put on by different classes throughout the day. Each one of these productions ended with the children giving teachers freshly plucked flowers from all over the village. A masă was served once all the students had left for the day.

At a masă or a gathering, it is customary for someone to carry around a bottle of wine (or some sort of liquor) and one glass. The pourer uses the same glass to serve everybody a drink. After everyone is served, the pourer serves himself and then starts again in the same order. Because I do not drink and often feel like I am not participating fully, I decided to make fresh chocolate chip cookies for the teachers. I followed the „pourer” and served every teacher a chocolate chip cookie. I think it was actually a very good idea, because some of the ladies look like they needed something to help keep down what they just drank.

It was a nice day, and yet another reminder of how different education here is from America. In my opinion, a day like this would not be possible in most high schools in America. (I am not claiming that one system is better than the other.) With all my flowers in arms, I went home feeling happy to be a teacher in Moldova.