Timișoara doors. Timișoara, Romania. May 2013.
A Stop on the Way to Timișoara. Marigina, Romania. May 2013.
Sunset through the train window. Romanian countryside. May 2013.
Râșnov Citadel and the town of Râșnov below it. Râșnov, Romania. May 2013.
Bran Castle. Bran, Romania. May 2013.
Window views at Bran Castle. Bran, Romania. May 2013.
Peleș Castle. In the Carpathian Mountains near Sinaia, Romania. May 2013.
View from the Black Tower. Brașov, Romania. May 2013.
Around the city center. Brașov, Romania. May 2013.
My Peace Corps service in Ukraine ended on May 16th. That night, I hopped on a train from Kiev to Bucharest to start my month-long travel adventure.
The first country was Romania, so I’ll be reblogging some of my favorite shots from my photo tumblr :)
I am in Belgrade, Serbia now, but in a few days I will head to London, then to Spain and Morocco before finally landing in my future home of Seattle, WA!
If you were alive in the 90s this will mean something to you.
If you ever decide you want to declare your love for me, make me one of these.
This is awesome, wow. Love.
wow this is pretty neat
I would marry someone that gave me this…
This is glorious.
TW: Sexual abuseElizabeth Smart became a household name after she was kidnapped from her home in Salt Lake City, UT at the age of 14 and held in captivity for nine months. She was forced into a polygamous marriage, tethered to a metal cable, and raped daily until she was rescued from her captors nine months later. Smart was recovered while she and her kidnappers were walking down a suburban street, leading many Americans who followed her story on the national news to wonder:Why didn’t she just run away as soon as she was brought outside?
Speaking to an audience at Johns Hopkins about issues of human trafficking and sexual violence, Smart recently offered an answer to that question. She explained that some human trafficking victims don’t run away because they feel worthless after being raped, particularly if they have been raised in conservative cultures that push abstinence-only education and emphasize sexual purity:
Smart said she “felt so dirty and so filthy” after she was raped by her captor, and she understands why someone wouldn’t run “because of that alone.”
Smart spoke at a Johns Hopkins human trafficking forum, saying she was raised in a religious household and recalled a school teacher who spoke once about abstinence and compared sex to chewing gum.
“I thought, ‘Oh, my gosh, I’m that chewed up piece of gum, nobody re-chews a piece of gum, you throw it away.’ And that’s how easy it is to feel like you know longer have worth, you know longer have value,” Smart said. “Why would it even be worth screaming out? Why would it even make a difference if you are rescued? Your life still has no value.”
Now in her mid-twenties, Smart runs a foundation to help educate children about sexual crimes. She now believes that children should grow up learning that “you will always have value and nothing can change that.”
Social psychologists and sexual abuse counselors agree that comprehensive sex education can help prevent sexual crimes. Teaching children about their bodies gives them the tools to describe acts of abuse without feeling as embarrassed or uncomfortable, and it also helps elevate their self-confidence and sense of bodily autonomy. A shame-based approach to genitalia and sexuality, on the other hand, sends kids the message that they can’t discuss or ask questions about any of those issues.
When I went through abstinence only education they did an activity where they put different activity from holding hands to intercourse around the room and asked everyone how far they would go, and how far their parents would be okay with them going. I refused to do the exercise because I thought it was inappropriate and my parents trusted me to be safe and make decisions for myself. Now that I look back on that I can’t imagine how traumatic that could have been to someone who had been sexually abused. We need to keep this in mind when discussing sex education.
Today was Eastern Orthodox Easter and, like last year, I went to my counterpart’s house and celebrated with her family by eating delicious food and drinking wine for a few hours. I am seriously bumming right now about how much I will miss seeing Lilly on a nearly daily basis. She is so amazing and fun and soon we will be thousands of miles away from each other.
Lilly told me today that nearly made me cry (actually, I am pretty teary-eyed thinking about it now) and made me feel like my two years here have made an impact and have been appreciated by my school. She told me that two weeks ago she was talking to the school director and working on paperwork for a new volunteer (a Youth Development Volunteer instead of a TEFL like I am). During the course of the conversation, my school director told her that she thought that I have been a great asset to the school and a more valuable volunteer to the students and school than the other volunteer in our rayon, in the next village over. “He may have found money and bought equipment for the school, but that is really all that he did. It won’t be as sustainable or used as much when he leaves” she told Lilly. The school director was far happier that I have gotten students out of the village and attending different camps and seminars on HIV and leadership, expanding their horizons and making them see what is possible outside of village life. The fact that she said this makes me realize that my time here wasn’t a waste. That all of the small things I have done has added up in a big way. I was also amused when talking to Lilly about when the school director first met me in Kiev. Apparently the first thing she told Lilly about me was that I was “very pretty.” That made me laugh.
Since today was a holiday, we will have no school tomorrow and I will be spending it in the kitchen baking massive amounts of banana bread for my school. In between batches, I’ll write my good buy letter on a huge piece of paper (in Russian) to hang on the wall at school on Tuesday. In addition to this being my last week at site, I only have two more days of school left: Tuesday and Wednesday. I thought I had Friday, too, but it appears we will have that day off as well due to Thursday being a holiday. Oh May…