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.