Saturday, May 31, 2008


Imagine you're an orphan in Drochia and it's your graduation day. You've dressed up big time (a big fairytale ballroom gown if you're a girl), and there's a big ole ceremony in the orphanage courtyard. There are speeches by your teachers and the school director. There are awards given out. A local politician comes and gives a speech too. All pretty standard.
But this is not a bland American graduation, this is a Moldovan Graduation Party!!!
Next comes the dance music - real bass thumping club music. Then some of your classmates try to let off some floating chinese paper lanterns, catching one on fire in the process. Next are the guys from the military who put on a gun show where they all spin their rifles and do steps in unison. Pretty cool. BUT THEN COME THE NINJAS!!!!!!!!!!!
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we had GRADUATION NINJAS!!!!!!!!!
They ran out and performed a series of self defense reenactments, thus providing not just entertainment but real useable knowledge for the crowd. Knowledge like: how to disarm a knife wielding thug, how to beat up a couple of street toughs all by yourself, and how to take away your enemy's AK-47. But the best part of the Ninja Show was the concrete breaking. Each ninja took out a concrete tile and broke it with his head - all in a coreographed routine. Then the final "piece de resistance" - the supreme ninja lit a stack of concrete tiles on fire and smashed them all with his bare hand.
We're not in Kansas anymore...
Seriously, thought, it was a really neat experience. The local news was there. Parents and relatives came. And everyone was dressed to the nines. The graduates performed a nice ballroom dance for us. I even ended up dancing in a big circle with a bunch of people.
At the beginning of the ceremony, I kept telling Parker "This feels like the Godfather". Then they played the Godfather theme on the stereo, and we both freaked out. Not to mention that I had been sounding like Frank Pentangeli all week.
Anyways, I'm sure you can read more about the graduation in the other posts.
Leaving for the last time was hard. I said goodbye to Sabir (who plays the bass drum in the school band) and Alina and Doina. And I said goodbye to lots ofther kids.
240 beds, and a ton of smiles and hugs.
I'd say we did a good job.

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