interviu 2012

Interview with Candice Snyder,
 Volunteer at Peace Corps, USA

Interview Transcript

Interviewee: Miss. Candice Snyder, volunteer at Peace Corps, the United States of America

Interviewers: Students from 12th grade English Major from “Al. Vlahuță” Pedagogical High School – Barlad, conducted by Miss. Cristina Nistor and Mr. Gabriel Sandu.

Date/ Time of the Interview: April 4th, 2012.
Transcribed by: Vlad Enache and Alin Simion.
Audio Track Time: 59:19.0

Interview Setting: Interview was conducted in 12th grade English Major classroom from Pedagogical High School Barlad, at 8:00 AM, on Wednesday morning. Questions were selected by Miss. Cristina Nistor from a list of questions proposed by the students.
Affiliation with interviewee: Candice Snyder is associate teacher at Perieni School, Vaslui County and is involved in educational activities in our school.

Candice Snyder: CS
Students: ST

(Start of Interview)

ST:  What state were you born in?
CS:  I was born in California.

ST:  We know you are a Peace Corps Volunteer. Why did you choose to be a volunteer? Why did you choose our country?
CS:  I like helping people. I wanted to be a volunteer since I was 16; you can put it in preferences, but it doesn’t mean anything, Peace Corps puts you where they want. I lived in Minnesotta.

ST:  What are your responsibilities, your aims?
CS:  My form of volunteer is teaching English in schools, as a born language. Every class the teacher has, I have the other half. I work on conversation, listening, she focuses more on grammar writing. I have English clubs, I do projects with the kids. Peace Corps has three goals:
-To help the country we’re in;
-To help the country and learn about America;
-To teach Americans about their country.
So, educate Romanians, educate Americans, educate everyone.

ST:  Why did you choose this career path?
CS:  I didn’t choose this career for money, I like to travel, to get experience, to meet people. Life in U.S. A. is really expensive, so I’m tired of three jobs to live there.

ST:  What is your goal? What do you expect to achieve?
CS:  Hoping to spread a good American image; lots of people ask me if I’m an American person and they tell me that I’m nice and they wonder.

ST:  What was the most difficult thing you encountered in Romania?
CS:  Romanian language is very difficult because I’ve never studied it. You have the opportunity to learn three languages - very helpful.

ST:  Which is the thing you miss the most about your hometown?
CS:  It’s difficult because I've never had a home town, I've never lived anywhere more than a couple of months. I miss living with my brother. It’s hard to talk to him, I use Skype and phone calls, but I miss living near him. The place I lived last was Tennessee. I miss some food, Chinese food, we had English food, American food, all types... Romanians have just Romanian food, which is good, but sometimes I want Chinese food. I miss food variety.

ST:  Would you like to live here permanently?
CS:  Only in the summer. This whole winter stuff…. No… I’ve heard that this winter was  like the worst, maybe next winter if it’s not so bad... then we'll see.

ST:  Is the Romanian lifestyle different from that in the U.S.A?
CS:  Yes, one of the things I’ve noticed is Americans like to prepare a lot, in advance, and Romanians are like: ”Hey! Let’s go to Iasi tomorrow! It’s great! Let’s go to Iasi!” They get it done and than, tomorrow, they go to Iasi. It’s very different.

ST:  Is the American lifestyle the same with that illustrated in movies?
CS:  No! Chicago, L.A, Boston, big, big cities. The town when I am from, Minnesota, has 500 people. My school was in one building, 250 kids, very small. My family grew up very poor. So, there’s a whole part of the U.S.A. that nobody sees in movies. The fact is that to live in Oxville, which is a big city, I had to work three jobs, I was a nanny, a waitress... I worked 16 hours a day to live in Oxville. It’s expensive.

ST:  Do you love your country?
CS:  Yes, I love my country, I just don’t like it all the time. I enjoy the freedom that I have there but, then, I’m listening to the politics and I’m like... seriously!?... I’m so glad that I don’t have to watch those commercials in America. I’ve travelled a lot. Most of the people in Minnesota have never left the state, they’re very rasist and they don’t know even why. It’s very frustrating because we have this country where they could be learning things and they don’t.

ST:   What is the thing you are most proud of as an American citizen?
CS:  I guess, our freedoms, the ability that, as a woman, I can do certain jobs. There are still difficulties but the education is pushed toward this point. I do like that Americans try to help people, I think the guy who is in charge and makes decisions which aren’t helping very much, but I like that we have this money, we have knowledge that we can share, so we are trying to help.

ST:  What do you think about Romanians?
CS:  I think you, guys, are very hospitable, every Romanian I’ve ever met was like ”Hey! Let’s go to coffee, let’s do this”... You are very accepting and I ‘ve not ever met Romanians who hate Americans. I’ve travelled  throughout Europe, Africa and if you say that you are American, people go mad and angry. Sometimes I’ve had discussions with the Romanians but they were like: ”OK! America? What about this?” They asked questions but still they’re respectful. You guys have an amazing country, you have mountains, seas, beaches.

ST:  Do you believe Romanians are good speakers of English? What should we improve in this regard?
CS:  When we were being trained, they said your level is very low, I was expecting nobody to speak English, I was nervous because I didn’t speak Romanian then, I get here and I have kids that can speak, even in a fifth grade class. I have some kids that can speak from watching cartoons, watching movies, from listening to music. You guys have much higher knowledge, overall knowledge, than they give you credit for.

ST:  Do you know any Romanian words?
CS„Puțin”... I know some for teaching, like: „Stai jos!”, ”Liniște!”, ”Ascultați!”. I can order food in a restaurant, I can buy a bus ticket, I can do simple things, more complicated things... no.

ST:  Did the Romanian students meet your expectations? What is your opinion about them?
CS:  They are good kids, but they are learning different things than Americans. We have separated desks and they sit still!  Romanians have like six kids who just love to sit one next to each other. We don’t do that in America! You have your space! You, guys, are very active, you move around, and it’s hard to learn sometimes if you are not listening.

ST:  Are there any significant differences in mentality, attitude, way of thinking and acting between Romanian and American students?
CS:  In America you have to be very quiet, like for a test if you say one word – ZERO. In America we learn. Here, well... I don’t know…. You guys like to play games,  in America… no. It’s like: ”No, I want to stay here”. We are forced education, higher education, university, some kids, especially in the village, they have no plans they don’t even wanna go to highschool so it’s hard to make school important  if they don’t plan to make it part of their life, when in America there’s really no choice, you’re going to highschool, you’re going to college, here not so much which is a shame because I have some smart kids that they don’t go to highschool.

ST:  Do you think the curriculum/the syllabus in Romania is more difficult than in America?
CS:  It is very difficult to answer this question because we learn different things in English in America because it’s our language. The system isn’t set up enough to keep all the kids going.

ST:  What kind of relationship do you usually try to establish with your students?
CS:  I am their friend, but I am their teacher first. So, they may hate me when I give them a bad grade for their homework but that doesn’t mean that they can’t come to my English club. I don’t hate them as a person, I just wish they do their homework. I try to know them on a personal level, I try to learn their names but I have like 15 „Florin’s” that I can’t keep them straight so I try.

ST:  What would you change about our school system?
CS:  I’m not used to the arguing in the „Cancelarie”. My school doesn’t have a „sala de sport” so it’s difficult for them to do certain activities, we don’t have music rooms, they don’t have spaces for all the kids to do all the activities until you get to highschool.

ST:  What is the aspect Americans have, but Romanians lack in terms of education, mentality, attitude?
CS:  Sometimes I would say motivation. Americans are like: ”You don’t like it, deal with it, fix it I can make my situation better!” This may not happen, but they will try. Some Romanians I’ve met they’re like: ”This is the situation, it’s never getting any better”. You don’t know that unless you try. Not everybody, in general.

ST:  How would you teach English classes differently?
CS:  I don’t like memorisation. I like to do things where you ask questions, some games, but learning games, like you had to make sentences, first team to make a sentence, win. Reading a magazine article it’s still English, they might wanna read an article about Lady Gaga, it’s still English, I try to bring in more current things.

ST:  What do you enjoy the most about staying here?
CS:  Food. I am a vegetarian and the fruit and the vegetables in Romania are the best I’ve ever had. You guys have really good organic, healthy food.

ST:  What is your opinion about the Romanian culture?
CS:  I think it’s really interesting. I’m still learning it, I barely know it. I’ve stayed with a couple of host families and sometimes the father works, sometimes he doesn’t, sometimes the mother gets up at 3 AM and starts cooking, sometimes she doesn’t. So I don’t yet know what is typical Romanian culture.

ST:  Can you outline some good points of democracy in America? Do you think that Romanians managed to understand well and completely democracy?
CS:  You understand in general, it’s very difficult. I do think that the idea of Democracy is very good, every vote matters, freedom of speech, everybody can make a stand.

ST:  Tell us some symbols of the U.S.A.
CS:  The Eagle, the Flag... The state next to me, Wisconsin, is called „cheeseheads” because they make a lot of cheese there which is really good. The Superball, the Vikings, McDonald’s and other.

ST:  Is the American’s attitude/psychology of being a winner inborn or learned?
CS:  We are not so competitive as you are. If I say we gonna play a game in my class, the teams are formed already!

ST:  America is well known for the freedom of speech and thought. Still are there any taboos?
CS:  In a simple conversation there are certain things that you don’t ask.

ST:  What does an American understand by “The American Dream”? A house, 2 children, a dog?
CS:  I think the American Dream is going back to what I said before. It is just the idea of trying. Maybe if you try enough, the situation will get better, that’s the idea of an American Dream. Everybody has a different idea of the American Dream.

ST:  Tell us 3 qualities and 3 negative points of the American people.
CS:  They tend to be rasists because not very many Americans travelled outside of their country, and if they do, they tend to be tourists or very ugly Americans. We try to make opportunities available, so I think this is a positive quality. Volunteer work is pushed, we have girlscouts, boyscouts, we have very many volunteer organizations. The Americans who have money, they don’t share with the others.

ST:  What are the things you couldn’t live without?
CS:  I couldn’t live without talking with Stephen, my brother. I can comunicate with him through Skype, or by phone. I couldn’t live without fruits and vegetables, and I couldn’t live without the summer.

ST:  What are your priorities in order to have a fulfilled life?
CS:  I’ve planned to volunteer here in Romania for two years and after that, probably I will go teach in China because I have no money, and after I'll come back in U.S.A.  I’ll probably buy a car, or at least, I will rent one. Eventually, I would like to get married, to have kids. I don’t know….

ST:  Can you tell us something about the U.S educational system?
CS:  I guess one of the big differences is that the techers stay and the students rotate classrooms, so the teachers have more power because  it is their class and you entered in their space, the schedule is very fast. In U.S. the grades are very private. Here, no. The teachers say the numbers loud so that everybody can hear. In U.S. everything is personal, the teachers will show you your grade so that no one can see it because in America if you take a bad grade it’s very embarassing, it’s very bad. Even your final grade is sent to you home.

ST:  Do you have a best friend here?
CS:  I have friends here, not an BFF yet, but I have some volunteers that are in other towns or villages, like Grivița, Călărași, some volunteer friends. I would like to think that I am friend with some of the teachers at my school. I met some people here that I would like to think that  I’m friend with. I also have Afro-American friends, Asian-American friends. I have very many different types of friends. I have  friends in Scotland, in Asia, Africa.

ST:  Why is it so difficult to emigrate to the U.S.A for Europeans?
CS:  The U.S.A. have a lot of security things now. They have this problem with the visa because the Americans are worried that the people won’t honor their visa, that they will come and they will not leave. We have in every big city problems with homeless people, huge problems with homeless people, with transportation and such. There're  a lot of problems in U.S.

ST:  Describe your favorite American custom, please.
CS:  The holidays are very cool. The Halloween... we take it very seriously, everybody: kids, teenagers, adults, everybody dresses up. If you don’t …. Another holiday is Thanksgiving but my favorite is ”The 4th of July”, in the summer, there’s fireworks, I just love fireworks, and usually are those barbeques and we eat hotdogs and hamburgers.

ST:  What is your favorite traditional dish? How do you cook it?
CS:  My favourite Romanian dish is “papanași”, “mămăliga”, “sarmale”. My favorite American dish is ”pancakes”! I make pancakes because they are very easy to cook, some eggs, flour and that’s your pancake!

ST:  What will you take with you to the U.S.A? Material things and spiritual things?
CS:  I will take my clothes, and I have a lot of clothes, I’ve been buying postcards so I will take them too. I will take those tickets from the bus or from the museum like a proof so that I can demonstrate that I’ve been there. And pictures, as much as I hate to be in pictures, I love taking pictures. And  spiritual things? I guess the Romanians' culture has been good for me because I’ve relaxed a little bit.

ST:  Did you enjoy this meeting?
CS:  Yes, I enjoyed this meeting!! I like new people meeting me because I’m not like the typical American tourist that you may have met who is rude and loud and such.

ST: Thank you!
CS: You're welcome!