Friday, April 30, 2010

Photo Update

I really wanted to put a lot of descriptions next to these photos but after I uploaded them they got all messed up on blogger. That is me with a travel putter my friends sent, so awesome, thanks guys. There is a picture here with my host mom showing us one of our baby rabbits. This huge hill picture makes me want to get a bike, or something with wheels so that I can fly down to the center of my village faster. And there is another photo here, with a house with a green top in the center, that is my house. The other house is just a traditional Moldovan house with a straw roof top, which I just think is pretty cool. Enjoy.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

frustrations, romanian, lost laughs, good awkward times

The toughest thing for me here is the lack of structure. I find myself repeatedly worried on Sundays asking "what am I going to do this week?" Not all volunteers in my program have this problem, but I sure seem to. Yes there is an NGO that has requested me, and I dedicate time to them everyday. But the most frustrating thing about this is how I have repeatedly tried to set us up with regular meetings, and this seems to be almost impossible. We do have meetings, which is nice, but they are quite irregular. On top of this we do not have set hours that we are open. This makes things quite slow-moving and frustrating when used to the rate of work in America. We do have a great project plan that I actually do believe in, and so I continually push to find funders and so on. It all seems to come down to money. The NGO where I work had a huge amount of funding for the three years prior to when I arrived, and they were spoiled with large salaries, as well as little monitoring in budget writing. Now nobody has salaries, making it quite difficult for me to motivate them to work for nothing. It is definitely the most challenging thing Peace Corps volunteers face in Moldova - a post Soviet mentality. At the same time I recognize and understand the people I work with. Would I want to work for nothing in America? I mean this is a funny question since I am volunteering, but all of my housing and food is taken care of so I really have nothing to worry about.

I have been getting tutored once a week for two hours. I sometimes feel like I dread going. I feel like I'm a little kid whose mom is forcing him to wash behind his ears or something. "Do I really have to go mom?" Well the answer is no, it is optional, but I choose to anyway because it is for the better. I personally feel like there are no excuses not to go, and yet I still only go once a week. I dread it in some ways, but I always feel good right after I finish. I feel as if I have accomplished something. Learning another language is hard. You really have to want it. The most difficult part about this situation for me is that I know I could get by these two years without problems at the level I am at now, but also know that the level I'm at could definitely increase.

I think of myself as a serious person, but I also like to joke with people a lot of the time. This can make for some of the funniest awkward situations when jokes get lost in translation. For instance I repeatedly try to use the word "magician" in Romanian, just because the way you pronounce it cracks me up, thus, I look for places to use it. One situation, to be exact the worst situation I used it, was when an intoxicated aggressive man asked me if I can get him to a visa to America, Christopher's response: "I'm not a magician." Probably a little too harsh, and no laughs. Moldovans do not like sarcasm too much. Luckily my host family loves it, and so we throw it around from time to time. Sometimes I cannot believe how far we have elaborated on a story. Lost laughs.

Awkward situations are funny. In fact I have come to love them. Joining the Peace Corps has thrown me into some places far out of my comfort zone. Now I've accommodated to most of them. I'll never forget the first week I was thrown into a host family with about a 3 1/2 word vocabulary. If that's not frightening I don't know what is. It's incredible stuff. The reason I mention this is that yesterday my host mom had a guest over, and I didn't know her. I was super tired as we ate food at the table, and these women were chatty Cathying it up. I didn't say much, and the woman probably thought that I did not understand much, and she said "ohhh, he's shy because I'm here." I started laughing because I was just thinking to myself "you've got to be kidding me lady, this is nothing, everyday I meet new people and eating and drinking wine with you is basically nothing." I had to go on to explain that all is well, that I can speak, and that I just am tired. I'm just realizing that I am growing some. Getting out of my comfort zone as much as I have during my time here has finally caused me to notice changes. Good changes, just not always easy changes. Although work may be slow, I know that there is definitely some personal growth going on here, and to think about the amount of time I have left really blows my mind in this sense.

Oh, and for a quick laugh, I introduced my host mother Ludmia to Labron James via this youtube clip. Go America! Stuff like this is awesome to show Moldovans. The tough part is explaining how many meters tall he is, and how many meters he jumps.

OH - and look at what I added to the right column of my blog, you can send me text messages, up to five a day via the web. So go ahead and make my day. Actually, more likely would be, go ahead and wake my middle of the night. Just click the picture of the envelope, on this page, then the next page, and fill out the necessary information. If you get really confused click the 'EN' for English in the top right corner.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Easter in my world

I'm not sure why, but I was not expecting much for this Moldovan Easter. I was thinking it would be the same old gig, or the Moldovan gig I have accustomed to. I was wrong, and the simplicity in which I had so much fun caught me off guard. Moldovans celebrate Christ's rising by going to church at about 2am with a basket of food and themselves to be blessed with holy water around 5 in the morning. Or this was the case for me in my village. Although I did not go to sleep, the meeting of the majority of the village around the church was quite peaceful. Around the church we gathered, with breads, meats, eggs, cucumbers, tomatoes, and candy in our baskets. Illuminating the entire scene were the candles lit from within our baskets, often placed in yet to be baked sweet bread. After all us, along with our food, got splashed/blessed with holy water we made our way home. There we sleepily ate our blessed foods before going to bed around 6:30am.
When I woke up it was around 2:30pm. My host sister said "hey, get ready, we're going to the woods." I said "good," brushed my teeth, wet wiped the necessary body parts, drank a coffee, and dressed quickly. My host family and I met up with some neighbors and village friends and headed for the woods with a fully equipped picnic. There we lounged around, ate until stuffed, and most surprisingly played some Moldovan games with a ball while listening to some classic Eastern European techno and some traditional Moldovan music playing from a stereo speaker attached to the old BMW we arrived in.
It was simple and that is why it was so beautiful. All of us were in our true light, fully relaxed, joking and making fun of each other, and appreciating each other for who we are. This among hitting each other with a pretty hard ball made for a lot of laughing. It was awesome to see my host mom relaxed and laughing and dancing. The woman is one of the most hard working people I have ever seen, and deserves to hang out and relax. I also got to hang out with my neighbor Victor who is pretty cool. I think what I liked the most was how we were making jokes and I didn't feel uncomfortable doing so.
Sometimes I think that Moldovans have too many holidays, but you have to give them credit for actually celebrating them. In America for the most part a holiday equals a three day weekend. Here in Moldova it often makes for a three day weekend, or often enough even four, but these weekends come with obligatory gatherings and celebrations which simply put can be refreshing.
Oh, and another thing, I guess instead of saying "good day," I have to say, "Christ has risen" for 40 days. And if somebody says it to me I have to respond by saying "it's true, he has risen." You may not think that this is a big task, but in a village where you say "good day" to everybody that you pass, it can be a change of pace. Anyway, Easter was awesome, and I hope any of you all back home reading this had a good time too.