Thursday, January 21, 2010

Finally put up some photos!!!

Hey, I finally uploaded some of my photos. I put them in my web albums. There you can find albums from my Pre Service Training up to present.

Monday, January 18, 2010

mp3 player + phone + Moldova = (________)

In America I'm pretty sure most cell phones have the mp3 player options, but if I remember correctly myself and my friends largely underutilized this feature. In Moldova they love this capability and use it to it's full capability. Not only will you find most people using their cell phone as their primary mp3 player with headphones, but without. This meaning that they use their personal cell phone as a boom box, and you'd be surprised at how loud these bad boys can get. People blast them while walking down the street, while sitting in a bus, standing - well, anything really. Witnessing this as an American makes me laugh for two reasons. The first reason is that if there was somebody blasting music next to you on the bus most Americans would loose patience and say something about how the person was being rude or inconsiderate to those around them. Or, the other American would not say anything while their blood boiled in anger, and while thinking of wringing their neck the whole bus ride. And then to the first friend they saw they would exclaim, "you wouldn't believe this guy on the bus, he was blasting his music and being such a jerk!" Here, blasting music on the bus is accepted. I accept it, but with laughter at the cultural differences. I think I even like it? Okay, so the other reason that it is funny, possibly more funny to me personally is what is often playing/blasting on these cell phones to those around them. I would guess about 50% of the time it is in English, and if I'm lucky, 40% of the time hardcore gangster rap in English. This means that most likely they don't know what is being said, but just like the way it sounds - which is cool. But it gets funny when you see a 12 year old boy walking with gangster rap blaring "get out my face!, get out my face!, get out my face!," (lyrics I heard on the way home to lunch today), or other favorites such as Eminem, DMX "Rough Riders Anthem," 50 cent, and most popular to Moldovans, Akon. I even remember this past summer doing my best to translate the a DMX song for a guy I met named Sergiu, and I don't think I did too bad really.... And in another situation I remember explaining how DMX is in jail, but to do this I had to jump a fence and grip it from the other side for them to understand, but that's besides the point. These mp3 player situations are entertaining, and just one of the interesting cultural differences I find when comparing Moldova to America. If my phone only had this....

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A few quick words

It just snowed again and yesterday night my host sister Natalia and I went for a little walk up into the hills of our village. It was pretty fun in the snow and we got some cool views of our snow covered village. While we were up in the hills, where many use the land for farming, we walked into places that she had never even been. But on the way we got to take some pictures of the village below, some of which are pretty cool. I have been realizing that my language is not that bad if I can go on a walk and we can shoot the breeze for a couple of hours without me having to think too hard. On the other hand I know that I have plateaued and need to step it up a notch by studying either on my own, or with a tutor. Anyway, enjoy these pictures of my village.

Posted by Picasa

Friday, January 15, 2010

The film "Ca La Moldova"

I encourage anybody who reads my blog, and is interested in the situation in Moldova to watch this documentary film called "Ca La Moldova" (This is Moldova). It is 60 minutes long with subtitles.

(The first film is the trailer, the second is the full 60 minute film).

The Life and Times of Jan. in Moldova

This is a picture of the Christmas festival in the high school.
This is towards the center of my village. The church, and a well in the foreground.
Walnuts. My host mom spends a lot of time cracking open with a hammer, later she plans on selling them in the market.
Some of my frozen clothes that were hung out to dry.
Host dad and host sister on New Years. It is about 5 in the morning. There was a lot of fog, that's why this picture is not very good.

After a long night of eating and dancing.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Holidays

So today is the day. I had my bath. This includes me dancing over a puddle of water in Kama Sutra-like poses while laughing at myself. Yes I've been here for about seven months and this still makes me laugh. Out loud. But I guess on worse days it makes me cuss out loud. I could bathe everyday if I really wanted to, but the hassle plus my laziness equals out to about once a week plus wet wipes. I'm cool with that. Immediately after my bath feeling “so fresh and so clean” makes me more aware of my actions as not to make any quick movements to ignite the sweat process. I have to be careful for at least a day before I get crazy like that.

The winter here has been cold, but nothing too crazy. We had a good snow mid December, and it's still lingering around, causing me to walk with attention. But not too much attention. It's kind of like when you leave something in your room, and you're walking back there to get it, and then you're thinking “what is it I was looking for again?” and then you remember, “Oh yeah, not to slip and fall on my face.” That's what it's like for me anyway.

The winter in my village does have some beautiful days. The snow is still in the hills and at certain times when the sun is going down I catch a view of them blanketed with orange sunlight. My village has some interesting geography with houses in the hills and its village center cramped in the bottom of intersecting valleys. Due to the intersecting valleys there are many hills and different views into valleys. I had a hint of this before, but it became more apparent to me after some youth and I were delivering clothes on foot in our village from a clothing drive I helped organize.

This clothing exchange took some planning ahead of time, and even after the planning it did not
run perfectly. Not to chop this tree to the ground before I explain what happened though. It's success impressed myself, and I feel comfortable believing it impressed others in the village as well. By the way that's saying something because I'm a tough critic on things I've accomplished. Basically we set it up like a clothing drive goes in America, with as a contest between classes in the high school. We also put a box for money that went for candy. The final week we sang carols (I didn't, I don't know them in Romanian) to collect money. We collected a ton of clothes, a good sufficient amount of money, and toys. That was the easier part. With a list of vulnerable families we used from the mayor's office we had to match clothes we had with children of that age and size. Then package them and package the candies and toys together.

The planning and logistics I could elaborate on more, but aren't as fun. What was fantastic is the mode in which we delivered them the first day. We used a hose drawn sleigh and dressed up as Santa (“Mos Craciun” is the Moldovan version). I was really excited as we flew down the street pulled by two horses with other youth volunteers and our organization's Director. What I was not quite prepared for was the situations in houses that I would be visiting. I am all for helping out poorer children, but it was rough at times. What was amazing was to see how happy these kids were to see us with packages for them. Younger children were yelling in anticipation of our gifts as we approached their doorstep. In tradition many of them recited Christmas poems. The experience can not be put into words. We delivered over 65 packages with clothing, toys, and assorted candy. It is awesome to know that our youth volunteers and myself put something together that brightened children's day with our surprise gifts. Feel free to look at the pictures of the whole experience.

Switching gears, next on the list, another topic, is this holiday season in Moldova. First of all they don't celebrate Christmas on the 25th. No they're not insane, but they did live under the USSR, and because of this they have always celebrated on the 7th of January. So I can't say much of that yet, but I'm sure it will be a blastface. I did have the chance to visit the village where I trained, and where my heart is, the wonderful village of Vasieni. It is here I spent the 25th with my original host family all together. I also got to meet my host mom Tamara's granddaughter who lives in Beligum. She is the same age and she speaks English so it was awesome. The food was also great. The next day I spent there getting my butt kicked in dominoes for about fiver hours by Vasile and his friend. I'm still not sure if I understand all the rules. Over all it was a relaxing weekend.

The New Year holiday was celebrated largely with my current host family. To put it simply we had a 'masa' (which means table) but really means a table full of food, too much food! We danced until 7:30am, which was crazy.

Signing off, Christopher