Monday, July 9, 2012

Sacramento's very own one-room schoolhouse

My impression of what a one-room schoolhouse was like is from Little House on the Prairie. You have the teacher at the blackboard with the cute little kids up front who are her favorites. The students get progressively older and less appealing as you look further back in the room. The last row is reserved for the cloddy teenage boys who are probably never going to quite master their reading, 'riting and 'rithmitic before they join their Pa in the fields. Busting out of their overalls and smelling like donkeys, they try the patience of even-tempered Miss Beadle.

Sacramento has a one-room schoolhouse and we attend when we can on Saturday mornings. We are not the cute little kids up front. The back row is reserved for us. Why do we go when we could be doing regular Saturday morning stuff like plowing the fields? This is a Romanian one-room schoolhouse and we are diligently (or so we say) attempting to read, write and speak in this new language. (Unless they are keeping some horrible secret, I'm pretty sure the language of mathematics is universal, so we got the 'rithmitic part down.)

ORA, the Organization of Romanian Americans kindly allows us two grownups to attend their kid language classes. Our teacher's name is Oana and she seems to get a kick out of the two Americans that come on Saturday mornings. Just because she gets a kick out of us doesn't mean she cuts us any slack. We are challenged to the point that I usually want to run out in tears because I am just not getting this language. And then the real frustration comes when we once again realize that Oana is getting our lesson from THIRD GRADE SCHOOL BOOKS. Man they expect a lot from third graders in Romania. The last class involved a story about the historical figure Stefan the Great as a child, who played in the forests of Moldova pretending to fight off the Tatars with all types of ancient weapons. I don't know how useful the word for poisonous dart will be for me in everyday Romanian conversations, but Oana makes sure we are prepared for battle.

The little kids who attend are adorable. They sit up front and get some extra help in learning the special Romanian characters. As I struggled over my lesson about the Tatars being strung up on massive oak trees, I was glancing longingly at the easy Romanian words on the board. Ooh! Ooh! I know how to spell Mama, call on me! But just like Miss Beadle from Little House, our Romanian teacher was spreading herself around and spending time with the little squirts in the first row.

Our teacher Oana

ORA used to be located within walking distance of our house, but they have recently relocated to a bigger building on Gibbons Road near Fair Oaks in Carmichael. This gives them much more room to display their wonderful collection of Romanian folk clothes. We appreciate them allowing us "late to the language" students the chance to learn with the cute little kids. We promise to stay in the back row and behave ourselves.

The back row is for the Tatar Tots.

A few of the native Romanian clothing outfits on display at ORA