As I’ve mentioned before, Peace Corps will be closing its post in Romania next summer which will mark 22 years in Romania. Many legacy projects are taking place throughout the country to celebrate the friendships developed through the years. I had a chance to participate in one of the first legacy projects last month in which my school planted 22 trees in two of its school’s parks. Yes, the number 22 is significant because…well we’ve been here for 22 years. I was really excited about this project because my school had expressed their interest in creating green space for our students and this project fit right in.
Like I usually do, I jump before looking and this project was no exception. Not having EVER planted a tree before I had no idea what was in store for me. I thought “how hard can it really be to plant a couple of small trees…just dig and place the tree”. How wrong was I because I didn’t realize the physical labor that it actually took, but I ‘ll get to that later. Days before the planting took place, I went to pick out the trees from a family in Novaci who owns a tree nursery, lucky us because we didn’t have to travel far. We actually got one for free because we bought so many🙂. I asked the biology teacher to help us and she recruited a couple of students from her class. The day came and the trees were delivered, shovels and gloves were placed on the bench and tasks were assigned.
While I only expected 15 students to volunteer, we ended up having more than 30 students. With very little direction, students got into groups of 3-4 and separated the tasks; some did most of the digging while other brought fresh soil and water. I took a shovel started digging and realized “this is a lot harder than what the youtube video showed” (yes I confess I watched a youtube video on- how to plant a tree- I knew students would ask for directions and I needed to make sure I knew what I was doing AND deep down inside I’m still a city girl even though Novaci is slowly changing me). Anyway, after about 2 minutes I realized that I was the slowest digger. I saw as the students gazed at me surprised that I was having such a hard time. I needed water, but wait I wasn’t even 3 inches into the ground! The soil was so hard and the small rocks didn’t make it any easier. Needless to say my students saw me struggling and came to my rescue and before we knew it we were done. All 22 trees planted in two hours!
This is another great project that has made all of the the participants very proud of their school. Teachers have talked about planting flowers and my 8th graders and I are working on a campaign on keeping the environment clean. During a class break I was sitting outside and watched as one student tried to jump over a tree we planted, immediately another student told him “why are you trying to destroy what we planted, don’t you remember we all did this?”. I gave the student who said that a high five!
After this project concluded, and with the support of the US Embassy, Mai Mult Verde and Peace Corps Romania, 220 trees in 10 different locations have been planted throughout Romania.
Note: After realizing my digging skills were not needed, I pulled out my camera and took these pictures. Oh and if you are wondering, when I got home I wrote a comment on the youtube video I watched that suggested they advice viewers of the physical labor it takes to plant a tree and then I took a nap🙂