Sandwiched between Romania and Ukraine, Moldova emerged as an independent republic following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Two-thirds of Moldovans are of Romanian descent. The languages are virtually identical, and the two countries share a common cultural heritage. The industrialized territory to the east of the Dniester River, generally known as Transnistria, is considered a breakaway region, and it is mainly inhabited by Russian and Ukrainian speakers.
Comrat, a city of roughly 20,000 people, is the capital and commercial center of the autonomous region of Gagauzia. The name “Comrat” is derived from a Turkic word that means “black horse,” which relates to the city’s historical links to horseracing. Though Russian is the dominant language in the region, Gagauz (similar to Turkish) is spoken by many local people. The city lies about 62 miles south of Chisinau, the capital, and it is home to a diverse population, including ethnic Ukrainians, Russians, and Bulgarians. An impressive yellow Orthodox church dominates the city center’s town square, which features many restaurants offering authentic Moldovan cuisine and international dishes. The area is a relaxing place to enjoy an afternoon tea or coffee. Another notable attraction is the Comrat Museum, which provides a sweeping overview of Gagauz history. Comrat has been growing in commercial strength over the past few years, and there is an attractive new shopping galleria and a popular pizza parlor in the city center. The city also boasts a fitness center, a public library, a bookstore, and a karaoke club. There are open markets on the major streets where one can purchase anything from fruits and vegetables to a new pair of gloves. Groceries and many household items can be purchased at two major supermarkets. Since Comrat is relatively small, most places can be reached on foot, but minibuses (marshrutkas) also run through the center of town and to and from the main bus station.
Host Institution: Comrat State University
Comrat State University is the region’s largest higher education institution. Highlighting the linguistic diversity of the Gagauzia region, ceremonies at the university are typically held in both Russian and Gagauz. The Foreign Language Department offers a dual major in English and German, and a separate department offers a degree in English and Bulgarian. The U.S. Embassy-supported American Center at the university has a wide range of materials and equipment available for the Fellow, including a projector, television, copier, and over 200 books. The British Center and European Union Conference Room are also excellent spaces for presentations. Previous Fellows report that teaching at Comrat State University is a positive and rewarding experience. Courses taught by prior Fellows, such as American Culture and Civilization, British Literature, British Culture and Civilization, Communications, and Mass Media, receive a lot of student interest. Colleagues are very accommodating and helpful.
- The Fellow will teach interactive, graduate-level courses on culture, literature, and/or the English language.
- The Fellow will provide regular seminars for professors who teach English students, and will assist in developing and enhancing the English language studies curriculum.
- The Fellow will present an ongoing series of TEFL and language workshops and lectures in Cahul, Chisinau, and Taraclia.
The Fellow may be asked to:
- Provide seminars and consultations at the regional English Teachers’ Resource Center (ETRC) in Comrat and Cahul.
- Support the ETRC in Chisinau on a limited basis via monthly seminars and participate in the ETRC’s fall and spring programs that attract many English teachers from across the country.
- Participate in and support American English programs administered by the Regional English Language Office and the U.S. Embassy (i.e., Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), American English Webinars, and the English Access Microscholarship Program).
- Visit American Corners to assist English teachers in rural areas of Moldova.