Monday, November 29, 2010

This is a "caruta," or horse drawn cart. A lot of people use them in Moldova. They usually use car wheels and tires on their cart as it allows for a smoother ride. In the winter they sometimes use a sled. Last winter I was lucky enough to ride around on one of those.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Some random photos

Picture of Chisinau. Capital city of Moldova.

My favorite kid from our center.

Me on my birthday. The director of where I am volunteering pulling my ears 25 times for 25 years of living.

Me getting ready for a Halloween skit at our street children center.

Crows Were Everywhere

There was about a week long period where every morning these crows were going nuts. I happened to have my camera with me to document it. It is really too bad that the quality is no good. But honestly as far as I could see in every direction their were crows. It was a bit apocalyptic and creepy.

My Awesome English Club

Sooo many volunteers have tried to do English clubs here, with limited, to little success. I happened to get lucky. I have been doing an English class every Thursday for about three months now and enjoying if for many reasons. The 12th graders I teach are awesome. They have great personalities, and them combined with my goofiness gets things moving along well. I started by teaching different kinds of American music. Blues, folk, country, anything. These things usually led into social issues or what have you. Also we would dissect the lyrics to the best of their ability and discuss them. I'm really saving rap for a special day. For Halloween I talked about our traditions in America and so on. When I came back the next week, a few days before Halloween, they put on a full skit dressed up head-to-toe and had prepared all sorts of foods. I was really surprised and regret not having my camera with me.

Recently we have been doing more activities. In some of these photos you can see that somebody had to sit in front of the class and ask questions about what profession they have. "Do I work inside?," "Do I work with people a lot?," and so on until they guess correctly. Obviously they are not allowed to look at the chalk board. I thought this photo "a clown" was pretty funny. I guess they thought "babysitter" was a good one for me.

In the other photo you can see that I am trying to spread a little bit of American slang. I crack up when I teach Moldovans slang from America because it has been so long since I have been home, and it kind of gets me reminiscing. Bottom line though is that this English club is by far one of the coolest things I have been doing. I have made friends with a cool group of students and they actually care about learning when I step in the room. We have a good time a lot of laughs. It is one of the things I look forward to each week, and am really proud of.

Civic Education Project - "The Village"

A project I helped plan for, and am currently involved in is called "The Village" It is a really interesting participative civic education project. The below is quoted text from the handbook that was put together by another volunteer. It shows some of the reasoning that we set out to do the project in Moldova.
In Moldova, civic education is obligatory for students in the 5th through 12th grades. Despite this
fact, studies done have shown that civic education that is not participative has a limited impact on
the development of democratic attitudes and behaviors. Alongside bookwork, students must be given
opportunities to work together and be engaged in solving real community problems.
Local public administrations and civil society organizations in Moldova, have the mission to educate
and engage youth in civic action—the very mission of the civic education curriculum. Therefore, a
recognized relationship should exist between formal classroom study and the goals of the local public
administration and the NGO community. Civil society organizations have the opportunity to be working
together with schools to enable students to learn in their domain of expertise while accomplishing the civic
education curriculum goals.
SperanĊ£a, in partnership with the Educational Society for Malopolska (MTO), and Peace Corp
Moldova, is introducing two successful participative civic education programs in 18 to 24 communities
in Moldova. These civic programs (Village and PA) will be evaluated in partnership with SIEDO and The
Ministry of Education to explore an official relationship between civil society organizations and the public
schools in order to achieve their many common goals for adolescent civic development.

Essentially these children choose everything in a village. They design a "Peep" which is an identity, not their own, with a biography and so on. Then they speak through this "Peep" in all public discussion. This all leads to a village/town getting constructed. The children choose on a government, city planning, dividing up public versus private land, tyrant-ran village, whatever they choose goes. The point is to get them involved in decision making and all sorts of decision processes. This way, hopefully, they will become more active citizens in real society.
I have been actively taking part with a group of 11th graders, two hours a week. Our group decided on the name "Peepville." Although my group is older than many others who are participating throughout Moldova, they tend to stay focused, and excited when I show overt enthusiasm.
I know, the "Peeps" look like voodoo dolls. Another interesting fact is that all the groups throughout Moldova are keeping track of their "Village Project" through an online blog. Check it out here:

Monday, November 22, 2010

I’ve been here for more than a year now which means in some ways I’ve acculturated without maybe realizing it. One example is learning that the private busses get me to the capital city Chisinau much faster. These are sketchy guys who you walk by and they just say “ChisinAU!” and you just sit in the van until it fills up. It took me awhile to realize that this option is the best as they go straight to Chisinau while others top to pick up others and let others off in villages. This process can get annoying if impatient. Instead, like I mentioned, in private vance you just have to wait until they are full – which is what I’m doing now, writing in a notebook, to pass the time, and hopefully put on my blog (which is what I am doing now I guess). I have not mad any good entries in a long time. I guess this rapidly approaching winter will solve that issue.

So why am I going to Chisinau on a Wednesday? Well, it turns out that we got all the funding necessary for a playground at “Evrica,” the street children organization that requested me as a volunteer. I have to go to the bank and sign forms to get access to the money, and get this playground installed before winter. The grant was through a Peace Corps Partnership Program (PCPP). This essentially is a project that Peace Corps Volunteers get approved, then gets placed on the PC website. Normally this means that the volunteers get their friends and families to give towards their project. In my case an American NGO lead by Moldovans in Washington DC did all the fundraising necessary for the project. Their name: Casa Mare. They were very hardworking and persistent in doing so.

So I am excited. For many reasons. I am glad to be getting something concrete installed as well as knowing that my efforts are working in some way. The playround will have a sandbox, two slides, a swing for four, monkey bars, and a titter-totter. Also we have funding for balls, games, and a ping pong table.

I feel more settled in Balti now, but currently moved. The apartment is better than the last. I was completely happy in the last one, but my landlord sold my apartment and bought this new one. So here I am. I have two bedrooms, and as of yesterday hot water, which I still have not used yet. After doing this post I will have a hot shower. I have been bucket bathing for about 16 months now. To be honest it gets you clean, and frankly I’m used to it. I have grown to realize that the challenges here are not condition or amenities, they tend to be mental challenges. Challenges with dealing with others that may not appreciate your efforts, challenges with wondering if you are actually making a difference. What you’re doing. These things tend to weigh heavier than having to heat up water in a tea pot and splash yourself from a bucket.