Monday, August 24, 2009

I just ate my 134th Moldovan watermelon, and then I uploaded these pictures.

If there is one thing I have learned this summer about Moldovans it is this: They love their watermelon. I have been slamming watermelon about twice a day for awhile now, and I believe it puts me at a grand total of 134 Moldovan watermelons. I have been comparing this total with the total of watermelon I have eaten in my entire life prior to coming to Moldova, and I believe I have eaten more in Moldova. Watermelon vendors are everywhere, and sometimes they are selling other melons that I don't even think we have in America. One is called 'zemos' which is yellow on the outside, and tastes like cantaloupe. Anyway, here are some pictures from my everyday life -

This is a hill I hiked up to get a different view of the village.
The woods at the top of this hill/Moldovan mountain.
A Moldovan goat in my path.
A couple of my kittens chillin out in the sun.
My host sister with our Moldovan security system.
Some turkey, they seem to be everywhere, and magically know how to get home.
One of the many types of grapes we grow at our house.
Other houses in the hillside.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Yesterday I got to show Moldovans how bad Americans are at fotbal (soccer).

This is the village I live in:
Yesterday I got to play fotbol with a bunch of boys of all ages. I think I held my own for awhile, but then at one point this 10 year old kicked a goal over my head (when I was playing goalie) and then laughed at me. It was a good time, and I plan on heading back. This picture is of the field we have in my village.

Monday, August 17, 2009

First Week at Site

My first week at site was a little bit stressful, but things have slowed down a bit and I have a better idea of what is to come. Throughout the week I learned a lot about my community through my partner organization. The organization I work with is just coming to an end of a big project and on Friday I had the privilege to sit in on an audit meeting. I understood a lot of what has been accomplished by my partner organization and what areas they assist the community. I am lucky that this organization is well established and they have ideas for their future.

In the past the people of Moldova were under Soviet rule, so a lot of people hold a mentality that the government will take care of anything and everything for them. This remains a problem because that carried on to people now, and they are apprehensive, or do not understand why they should get involved in their community. Through discussion with my partner and through listening during this audit on Friday I have learned that changing the mentality of the youth in the community is one of the next steps, or the next goal of my organization. I think that this is great that they can recognize this, because it presents much more sustainable opportunities. Right now I do not know exactly how we will assist in this area, but I think it will be through volunteer clubs and seminars in the community. I am really interested in getting teenagers interested in art. I think that Moldovans are in a bit of an identity crisis and if I could get kids to express what it means to them to be a Moldovan through artwork or writing that would be awesome. I think there are a couple of problems with this idea though. The first would be getting a group of kids together that are interested enough to take it seriously. The second, and hardest for me to admit is that I am not here to help with things that I want to do, but to help with things the people identify as a problem and need help with. This being said does not necessarily rule out my idea with art, I just think it is something I need to stay aware of. Last week the high school art teacher was talking with me and I am meeting him tomorrow.

On learning the language one of my bigger problems that I have been trying to avoid is sayings that we use in America because they do not translate. I am always trying to translate something I would say in English, but that does not work. For instance the other day my host sister and I had been talking for a long time after lunch and I wanted to say “what now?” while exhaling. When I said this in Romanian it just makes no sense. A lot of times this happens, so I've been avoiding such sayings. Another problem that I will just have to learn is words that are cognates with English words don't necessarily hold the same meaning. For instance the world “similar” is “similar” in Romanian, but it means “identical.” Or the word “preservative” exists in Romanian, but means “condom.” This explains why my host mom looked at me weird when she was putting vegetables in jars for winter and I asked “Are you condoming that for winter?” Oh, and “nervous” means something like pissed off, or really close to being angry. My favorite for some reason is that people when they ask each other how things are going people say “I am 'normal.'” This means that you are doing great, kind of like in America when we say “good.” “Normal” holds a much more positive connotation in Moldova, so you can't say that something went “normal” in the sense we would use it. If you say “normal” here you would use it to describe for a meal or an experience that was good. Well I'm pretty sure that this is the meaning of these words are anyway.

This Saturday I went to the capital because my dad sent me a package a while back and it finally got here. Normally mail does not take that long, but there was a huge problem in Istanbul for some reason and it took forever to get my package. The package was sent to the Peace Corps headquarters so I went there and hung out in the Volunteer lounge. It was cool to hang out with other volunteers who had been in country for over a year and had useful opinions and outlooks. It seems that time will go by quick as soon as I start getting more busy in my community.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I was wondering?

If somebody sent me a post card or a package that would make me feel special. Don't send letters though, they won't make it!



Monday, August 10, 2009

First two days of my next two years...

Well I have spent a couple of nights in the village I will be in for two years. Today is my first day of 'work.' I do not know yet exactly what I will be doing, especially since I need to work on thy Romanian speaking skills.

My organization is partnered with one in Sweden, and a few months ago they got a brand new computer lab where people from the community can come and pay very little to use the Internet or play video games. The facility is very nice, and my partner is very nice as well. I feel that the most difficult part to come is actually defining my role within the organization.

Today I walked around my village with my partner and we went into the kindergarten, and primary school. There I saw the renovation projects that they were working on and the projects that they had worked on in the past. This summer my partner and another woman from my organization went to Sweden with a team of Moldovan girls for something similar to a Youth World Cup. I believe the tournament is called Gothia Cup 2009, but I am not sure yet.

I am still trying to figure out things with my host family, I have not exactly settled in yet because both them and I have been pretty busy. I have not unpacked my bags yet, and I am planning on going into town tomorrow to buy sheets and other personal items to settle in. My host mom insists that we do this tomorrow, but I feel weird asking my partner for my second day of work off. I think that it is not a big deal though, I think it is culturally different and not weird like it would be in America - or for now I am going to convince myself of this.

Also in my host family I am getting used to showering from a bucket. It is not as bad as I thought it would be - I mean I feel clean afterwards, but I think that preparing it is a hassle. I want to help out in preparing food, cleaning, and preparing the water for my 'shower,' but my host mom and sisters refuse to let me help out. So basically I get to sit back and relax, but I feel like a jerk. I guess I should just enjoy it for now because after I settle in I know that I will be doing all sorts of things on my own and won't be treated like a hotel guest.

I really need to find out more of my community if I want to succeed. I need to meet more people and make more contacts. I am stressing myself out and I have only been here for two nights and this is my first day of work. As of now things are overwhelming, but in a couple of weeks I think I will have a better - but still vague idea of what is going on in my village.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Pre Service Training coming to a close - things to come

PST is coming to a close fast. I can't believe that I am heading to my host site in about a week on August 8th. Like I have mentioned before the days of PST are heavily scheduled. I think it is going to be very hard to get used to a much slower life when I arrive in my new village.

On Wednesday my collages and I had a bbq up on a hilltop. There we made a fire and roasted pork and chicken that was seasoned very well. Some of us stayed the night, but I went home late in the evening because I wanted to sleep in my bed. The bbq was great though because we had a fire, our three language teachers and we all brought a bottle of our host family's house wine. The view from the top of the hill is awesome because we can see our whole village below, as well as the neighboring village which is about three miles away. Also, from there it was great because we brought blankets and could lay and check out the stars.

One thing that we have been doing in training is practicing traditional Moldovan hora dance. This is actually kind of hard. We have lessons a few times a week. Not to mention again, in general, I'm taking dance lessons, which is ridiculous. Honestly I don't think I'm that great at it but I give it my all anyway. I feel like I'm in music class in 5th grade sometimes, but it is sweet. We have also been practicing a songs. We are going to perform both of these for our families that hosted us during training during a party. My host family for training is awesome, and I am very grateful to them for all that they do. Sometimes I will come home later than I expected and my host mom will run to the kitchen because she thinks that I am starving to death. Then she heats me up grub, it is awesome.

Furthermore to do with my host family – my host dad got back from the hospital last week. He had been in the hospital for about 25 days I believe. He seems to be in good spirits, but can't eat much since he had an operation on his stomach. My host dad is really cool, and I only wish that he would have been around longer during my training.

Because my training is coming to a close that means that I will be 'sworn in' as an actual volunteer for the U.S. Of A. After I travel to my host site I will work there for about two and a half months. After this they send us back to our training host families for two weeks to continue training. (I know that may sound confusing). But they send us back so that we can receive further training for two weeks after we have a taste of what we will be doing in our mayor's office and organization. I think this will be much more helpful, and that we will all have much more applicable questions than if we had a bunch of trainings now. I also think it will be fun to be in our original village, with our original host parents and other volunteers that we spent our first two months with. I am sure we will have a bunch of stories to tell about our village/city/new host family.

In my new host village I will have a tutor to help me with the language about 16 hours a month. This is cool, but I think I will honestly need more time. The village I will be in for two years has never had a Peace Corps Volunteer, so the community, and organization does not know what to expect from me. I also think that the transition into a village without any English speakers is going to be a challenge because right now we all have the luxury to call one another after a long day and go hang out somewhere and either vent, or discuss life in general for fun. In our new villages we will have to do this in Romanian, and also to make friends. I look forward to getting to know people in my new village, I just think I will have to be confident and outgoing when I see people in passing. I also think it will be beneficial to stay active with children by playing games in the stadium, such as frisbee. I also think I am lucky because I have host sisters who can help me get in touch with other kids around their age. But I will only be able to use them for about a month because they will be going off to Chisinau for college September 1st.

Over all I am a bit nervous on what my future will hold. I just know that I need to stay positive, focused, and motivated. I know it will be easy to lay around in my new room, rather than going out and trying to meet people. If I don't get out into my village and show my face they will not even know what it is I am doing there. I think that I will have to focus on clear communication with all people I encounter if I want to be successful, and if I get an invitation to anything I think that I should go in order to meet others. I emphasize all of these things because the COD assignment relies heavily upon networking.

I'm feeling pretty good about it all at this point. I expect there to be a lot of “high highs and low lows” while I get used to my new site and my new life. I know that my dad sent me a care package that has some black licorice in it but it still has not arrived. I am looking forward to that because it will be a nice taste of America.