Wednesday, December 24, 2008
I am in love!! Walking to work this morning was great, not only was I not occupied in trying to skip over the mud, I was crunching through crisp snow. How perfect timing, just in time for Christmas Eve.I am waiting for more snow to flag down some children to go sledding. I was told that is the best time to bond with snow enthusiast children. I too miss those times.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
The 4th graders, though this picture was taken last summer.
I've got to say, there is something about being a teacher here that I love, the moment when you walk into the classroom and have all the students stand up and greet you. They still catch me by surprise every time.
At home, my host parents and I put up our tree. Several weeks ago I asked my host dad if they were going to put a tree in the house. He said that they haven't done it since their children left the house, but this year they will put it up again because they have me.
My host dad putting up the star.
I am happy that there is some Christmas cheer in my life. Moldovans celebrate Christmas on January 7th, therefore I will miss Christmas eve and Christmas day food and opening presents excitement this December.
One thing I never thought I would never miss from working at Pier 1 is the Christmas music. Now I get some spark of happiness in my soul just to hear a lil jingle. Crazy!!
However, this Saturday I will start my journey via a 20 something hours bus ride to Prague and will spend New Years there. That I am excited for.
I WISH EVERYONE CHEERS AND JOY IN LIFE! MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEARS!!
Friday, December 19, 2008
All you gotta do is survive.
Pain is there for a reason.
Don't try to be Perfect,
Do try to be Better.
"I am a leaf on the wind!
Watch how I soar!
"Existence Precedes Essence" -Sarte
"For it isn't enough to
talk about peace.
One must believe it.
And it isn't enough to
believe in it.
One must work at it."
- Eleanor Roosevelt
And when you
You get someone
to carry you."
"I could quit...but
here's the thing...
I love the playing FIELD!"
- Grey's Anatomy
"Success is a journey,
not a destination.
The doing is often
more important than
- Arthur Ashe
"All those years I've been feeling
like I was growing into myself.
Finally, I feel grown."
- Oprah Winfrey
"It is sweet to let the mind unbend on occasion."
"Speak your mind even if your voice shakes."
- Maggie Kuhn
"Life is like getting dropped off in
the middle of the woods, and then year by year,
gradually walking home."
- April Fowles
"To repeat what others have said,
To challenge it, requires brains."
- Mary Pettibore Brooke
"I would rather have regrets about things
I did than about things I didn't do."
- Haider Hamza
"To fly we have to have resistance."
- Maya Lin
"If you are going through hell...
keep going!!!" -Anonymous
"Everything has a purpose, even this,
and it's up to you to find it."
- Dan Millman
"Knowledge speaks but
- Jimi Hendrix
"Each morning we are born again.
What we do today is what matters most."
"When we feel stuck, going nowhere...
even starting to slop backward...
we may actually be backing up to get a running start."
"Tell me my most attractive feature is my
- Women's Empowerment Manual
Successful Peace Corps
"The single most influential element of your Peace Corps service is yourself. You will determine whether your service was good or bad, worth it or not, successful or a failure.
It is up to you to make it what it will be, it is futile to blame outside things, because all of the answers already lie withing yourself."
- unidentified PCV
"I think life is what you do with it.
How you decide to live it.
It can be simple or not.
If you are happy and living
how you want to live,
responsibilities can be a joy,
not a job."
- Me 12/26/02 found written on the back of a gas receipt
Let us learn to appreciate there will be times
when the trees will be bare, and look forward
to the time when we may pick the fruit.
~ Anton Chekhov
"Besides the noble art of
getting things done,
There is a nobler art of
leaving things undone.
The wisdom of life
consists in the elimination
- Yin Hutang
"Pay attention, because you don't always
know where your opportunities will come.
A door may open where you didn't expect.
Pay attention to the people you meet,
pay attention to what people do.
You walk in a forest and see nothing,
but if you pay attention you see a universe."
- Diane Von Furstenberg
"One's first step in wisdom is to question everything,
and one's last is to come to terms with everything."
- George Christopher Lichtenberg
"All of us tend to put off living,
we are all dreaming of
some magical rose garden over the horizon,
instead of enjoying the roses that are
blooming outside of our window's today."
"The truth is that there is nothing noble
in being superior to somebody else.
The only real nobility is in being
superior to your former self."
- Whitney Young
"Take chances, make mistakes.
That's how you grow.
Pain nourishes your courage.
You have to fail in order
to practice being brave."
- Mary Tyler Moore
"The purpose of life is to discover your gift.
The meaning of life is giving your gift away."
- David Visccott
"It is only when we no longer impulsively
need someone that we can have a
real relationship with them."
- Anthony Starr
"If you love someone, set them free."
- Richard Bach
"I need not base my mental health on other's emotional support."
- Me with help
Quotes from Thich Nhat Hanh's books:
Following the Breath
Breathing in, I calm my body
Breathing out, I smile.
Dwelling in the present moment,
I know this a wonderful moment!
Breathe you are alive!!!
To breathe is enough to always
be happy, to always be in love.
The mind can go in a thousand directions
but on this beautiful path, I walk in Peace.
With each step, a gentle wind blows
with each step, a flower bloom.
The feeling of alienation among so many people today has come about because they
lack awareness of the interconnectedness of all things.
We can not disconnect ourselves from society or anything else.
Looking deeply, we can contemplate one thing and see everything else in it. We are not disturbed by change when we see the interconnectedness and continuity of all things. It is not that the life of any individual is permanent, but that life continues. When we identify ourselves with life and go beyond the boundaries of a separate identity, we shall be able to see permanence in the impermanent, or the rose in the garbage.
Just to be alive is wonderful, and you feel intensely happy.
When you have the courage to open your heart completely to love, a miracle happens. You start perceiving the reflection of your love in everything. Then eating, walking, talking, singing, dancing, showering, working, playing-everything you do becomes a ritual of love. When everything becomes a ritual of love, you are no longer thinking, you are feeling and enjoying life. You find pleasure in every activity you do because you love to do it.
I don't need to justify my love.
I love you because this is my pleasure.
Love coming out of me makes me happy,
and it's not important if you reject me
because I don't reject myself.
In my story, I live in an on going romance,
and everything is beautiful for me.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Swirling, winding, circling all over...
I am in my empty vessel
A slight touch, it goes tumbling
Rolling, bumping, thudding its way,
No where determined
Yet still so determined to reach a destination
An ending point in the future...my destined future
All possibilities are open to interpretation
It is upon me to uncover all inquiries
From the highest point looking down
Directly from life's zenith point
It was my first funeral here in Moldova, and was told later that it was done differently from a traditional Orthodox funeral. In fact it was performed according to the Seventh-day Adventist religion. The difference lies in the fact that this one was held outside and not in a church, there were no religious flags or candlesticks, and no wine were served at the Masa after the burial service.
Instead we went to a ceremony at the house, were people could say goodbye to her in the sala (living room), later through many carols she was brought outside while the rest of the service continued with speeches. After two hours of that, she was loaded onto the truck and everyone from the house followed the truck to the cemetery. More speeches took place leading up to the very last moment when the family said goodbye to her before she was laid into the ground.
Through 4 hours of witnessing this, I had many running thoughts, due to not being able to understand all that was being said and to see a 76 year old woman lie peacefully in her casket surrounded by her loved ones on what would have been her birthday.
Last night I came home and wanted nothing other than to move my body and warm up and to feel movement. I did Taebo and Yoga, which helped me to connect to life. Then my host mom was worried that I would get my cold back from being outside so long, she made me soak my feet in hot water in a tub with a blanket over it for the rest of the night and told me I do not need to leave my room. That was my treatment, which I didn't complain. I resorted to watching P.S. I Love You and cried with all the feelings I was holding back throughout the day.
Then something happened, we did not have running water. We had only a bucket of water that was being used in the Casa Mica to use between the three of us. I woke up the next morning to still no water and needed really bad to wash my hair. Then just like that all my problems disappeared.
Never in my life have the essentials been withheld from me; food, water, air, love. Today water, the everyday essentials, I did not have. I'm not talking about the fact that I can only shower once a week due to not having hot water on a daily basis, but about not having water at all.
This just made my day. I am happy and appreciate life, because not only am I alive, I've had water all my life. I never had to worry about it taken away from me. How lucky am I??
Monday, December 15, 2008
a. Happiness with little triumphant struggles along the way
b. To keep on learning something new
c. To always feel connected to nature, earth, people and life
d. To be an unconditional loving, respecting, encouraging and supportive person in all the roles I partake in life
e. To experience love with all that it encompasses... joy, pain, sorrow, laughter and tears
f. To gain respect, pride and love from my family and friends
g. To keep on discovering the root of beautifulness in everything
h. To continue reinventing myself, in other words, keep on improving as a person
i. To be a person who knows want she wants
j. To be a person who fights for what she wants
k. To be fulfilled in life, meaning to know that I took all that life is able to give
l. To always challenge myself
m. To have it in me to challenge others around me
n. To speak up
o. To know when to give up for the right reasons
p. To know myself and accept that there are definitely things I am not able to accomplish or do
q. To accept my past history and be proud of where it lead me and how it made me the person I am
r. To be able to know what is bothering me and deal with the root of the problem
s. To want to be ME regardless of how I feel at the moment
t. To accept people as they are, but to know when to not accept their behavior in which hurts me
u. To experience different corners of the world
v. To never stop laughing
w. To appreciate the people in my life, even the ones who failed me, for they teach me something
x. To turn my own failures into lessons in life
y. To be able to teach and guide those that need my help
z. To succeed in all endeavors that will lead me to fulfill all that is on this list.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
I am trying these days to find that spot of awesomeness INSIDE OF ME to keep on busting it...It sure is hard when you lay in bed for hours on end and can't ever seem to close your eyelids to have some rest. Past memories race through with a mixture of current agendas that seem to be put on hold until who knows when. Why does it have to be so hard. Why do I have to wait and wait and WAIT...is it cause I have two years to give or is it that people just don't want it ever?
I need some rest...some peace IN MIND. You would think that since it's the soul reason in me being here that it would be the root to all my existence here??
All that is peaceful now is my nightly yoga routines and all about bees and letting my brain do its wondering in hopes to find the answer.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
I'm sure you are thinking, “Why should there be a need to validate such a thing? Isn't it worthwhile in itself, to be in it?”
Well, the answer is simple...I entered into something that I now find to be completely different than I thought; what I am doing, reactions that I have to put up with, circumstances that I'm not used to and how I deal with them is different than what I'm used to normally. I've found that I, myself need to challenge myself in so many ways, do certain things in which I'm not comfortable in doing, or raise up to occasions in which I would never dream of doing before.
The truth is, all of these things are what I dreamt about doing coming to Moldova, the only reason why there is any doubt in my mind as to whether what I lost is worthwhile over what I've gained, is that I'm not sure yet what I'm gaining, if that makes any sense.
First of all, GRASS ROOTS field work is DAMN HARD! I'm finding this more true than ever before, my level of patience is tampered with on a daily basis, my passion and what I love is put to the limit all the time.
The only thing that has somewhat helped guide me so far in knowing why I'm here is to clarify my role in being here...thus below is an explanation:
Even after outlining these expectations it is still very hard to know if I am doing all I can to fulfill these roles. I'm not sure if it has to do with my own expectations coming into this, which over and over again we were told during training to throw them all away. Yet till this day, I'm asking, “How can one do that???”
Maybe all of this will make better sense after I explain further what has been happening lately...
With all things aside, meaning the wonderful new things I've learned and taken on, a new language, traditions, culture, I was still very unhappy and disappointed in my job placement. Here we go again to the expectations I came with, the idea that I would be placed in a children's focus NGO. I came into the Peace Corps to work with CHILDREN, DARN IT!!!
After several months into site, I still never get to spend any time with children, who are my passion, what I came here to do. Instead, what I get to do is be in an office all day listening to retired people coming in to ask for help from my partner, the Social Assistant. I have a feeling that, Peace Corps had a notion that my partner wanted to work with youth as well, thus was why they placed me here, but it's not true. She is busy with her Social Assistant work as well as being everyone's personal typist at work and having a lot of work at home. This meant that I needed to find other people to help me find work with children, for it is not sustainable to do anything by myself.
I resorted to visiting the Kindergarten several times a week, to sit in on their classes and during outside time. Until I got really annoyed at how the classroom is run, it being really loud and CRAZY!! I just wanted to step in and do something about it, but I had no authority to do so, which turned into more frustrations, therefore I stopped going. I wonder if there is any way I can do anything about it? Maybe....maybe not.
The frustrations and endless search to find what I want to do continues...
Concerning my work for the Mayor, the Infrastructure project to repair the roads and get two buses is still going. The grant writing part is stalled due to translation glitches, but someone else is finally in charge of that. My part is just to wait for them to finish writing and in the mean time to start a Youth Initiative Group to help with fundraisings, for 20% of all grant projects need local funding, and to start other projects as well in the village.
When I found out that a co-volunteer was going to do a Halloween party to fundraise for her Ecology Project in her village to get trash bins and trash pick up running, I thought Gura Galbenei could use a Halloween party as well. I went to my Mayor and everyone involved in the planning for our Infrastructure project and pitched the idea. They weren't sure what to think of it, but I was still very enthusiastic about it.
I went in the 12th grade class and introduced the idea to them, in which I was very happy that they all know what Halloween is, and they told me they wanted to do it. However, the day we were suppose to meet no one showed up. I FREAKIN GOT STOOD UP!! Yes, I was mad and upset and felt hella betrayed! I even tried several attempts after that to schedule another meeting via my tutor, the Assistant Director of the High School, but it still didn't come together. Needless to say Halloween party did not take place in Gura Galbenei.
This is what I mean with FRUSTRATIONS. It took me several weeks to get over it, I whined about it to everyone I knew and it wasn't until about several weeks later did I realize what I did wrong. I approached it all wrong...I needed to create an Initiative Group first and then it'll be easier to narrow down the ones who want to ACTUALLY DO SOMETHING.
Imagine what it must of felt like for them, they hardly know who I am and here I am entering into their lives and declare that I want to do something to improve their village with them. I forgot the step where I need to earn their trust and build relationships. OH YEAH, THAT! I mean I do that everyday with the people at my work, but with the children, besides seeing me on the roads or in their school when I go for tutoring, they don't know who I am. So it was clear that I needed a plan...
The good news entered my life, when the Moldovan government started a new program to prevent new graduates to leave the country for work in promising them a contract to work in a selected village for three years and a double salary increase at the end of the contract. As it is known, 1/3 of my village are gone working aboard, and that consists of everyone my age, or if there are any my age they are either married or have children, therefore it has been SO DIFFICULT to find friends that I can relate with.
Fortunately, about two months ago, 5 newly young (23-24 yrs.) graduated girls came to my village to teach at the High School. One of them, Olga, the English and Mathematic teacher came to my work one day to ask if she could BE MY FRIEND!!! and asked if I can help her improve her English. Seriously, that was probably the HAPPIEST day of my life in Moldova so far!! They invited me over to their apartment for tea and we became good friends ever since.
With Olga's help, I started two English Clubs with her students, one is for the younger students, the focus is mostly learning via games and activities, the older group is based on conversations. Olga herself came to me and asked how to make her students want to learn more, because she is having some trouble getting them motivated. The current method here, as it is in a lot of places, is to have the teacher lecture and dominate the classroom teaching via text books.
I've tried to tell her that children learn in a lot of different ways and sometimes they need to move around, apply it to their life and make it fun for them. Of course, there are also other factors that needs t o be taken into consideration as well. Due to having so many abandoned children living with older siblings or grandparents because their parents work aboard, it's not a wonder their emotional well being are not balanced enough to have motivation for school.
Side note: This is another one of those issues that are at the heart of the problems with Moldova right now. The number one compliant from people living here is that they don't get paid enough for the work they do, which explains why there was a teacher strike earlier this week. Two of the young teacher girls are thinking of quiting the contract at the end of this year and work abroad, because they can't live on the 1000 lei a month salary. Young and old alike throughout Moldova chose to leave their families to work legal or illegally elsewhere to make more money.
I've heard stories of people getting caught by the police and handcuffed back home, and yet they are still glad they took the chance to go and work for the short period to make money that they otherwise would never get the opportunity to do in Moldova.
At the moment my host family is trying to get joint citizenship with Romania, because they have grandparents that were born in there, to travel freely in Europe. Romania joined the European Union two years ago and have privileges Moldova does not. Moldova is currently implementing a lot of changes to get themselves in the EU as well, but their number one problem preventing this from being a reality is due to corruption issues.
Another side note: There are a group of children that are considered, "left behind" that I would love to get to work with. They are the ones who were excellent children who do not show up at school anymore, do not have a support system in dealing with their frustrations and sadness and end up making risky life choices. The difficulty lies in the fact that I don't know how to reach out to them. As we all know, I need to prove myself worthy by building relationships before working with people, adults and children alike; but how to do I get to a place where building relationships is even possible with these children who are hide aways, that do not go to school, and are more than likely will not want to participate and come to any of my clubs?
Well back to the issue at hand, Olga has helped me run a few of the English club meetings where we combine different learning opportunities via songs and games to learning English. She seemed interested in how the children are receiving it.
Through these few times a week in meeting with the children, I've find myself not as disappointed and pissed off at my situation as before. The best time spent is with the older students during our discussion in semi English-Romanian about issues they wanted to talk about, such as, love, problems in school, family issues, but mostly they ask me questions about America. It turns out that the group consist of all girls, which I was a little disappointed in at first, but it works out ok, since we are able to talk about girly things.
In the future MAYBE, I can even expand it to a Girl's Empowerment Club doing activities dealing with self-esteem, goal preparations, life skills etc...Even run a seminar like-activity field day later in the summer with the Women's Association, which my Mayor's wife just started an NGO (one of those that is only on paper for now) and I am one of the first 10th member, even though the only thing I've done so far for this organization is type up documents.
I'm getting ahead of myself...it's those expectations again. I tell you!!
Okay, back to the present moment...My plan for the present, right that was where I was getting towards...
It seems like my challenge is to find/weed through the children who wants to do something with me. My plan is to conduct a survey at the school asking them what do they want to see in their village, what kind of clubs/activities are they a part of now and what do they want to participate in etc...I've asked some of the teachers to pass them out and that is still in progression. I hope that this will help me know my next step better.
Again, I know what my mistake was with the 12th grader, I was the “Stranger”, better yet I was the “American Stranger” who busted into their classroom one day asserting to them that I know what they need to do to improve their village, the key word being, THEIR VILLAGE. My tactic is to give them ownership. I will be the mentor and the advisor (my roles, right?), but not the owner of anything I do here. I need to remember that.
Speaking of ownership, during one of the English discussions we talked about problems in school for children in America, then I asked them what their problems are in the village. They replied, they don't have activities to do. I acted totally surprised, I mean I already know that is one of the major problems, but I wanted them to be excited that there is someone who is listening. I went to the board and wrote down what they want to do about it. They said they want a youth club, then again I acted totally surprised, this time it was because I WAS REALLY HAPPY, this is what i want to do all along!! We wrote a list of things to do in the club and I told them that we will talk more about it at the next meeting and we'll make announcements for it.
That was great and all, but when it came time for the next meeting, no one showed up yet again! BLASTED!! Now it's been two weeks considering they had winter vacation and this week there was a teacher strike and no one has been at school. FRUSTRATIONS UP MY ALLEY?
I know I need to be patient (or persistent?), it will all fall into place. When I relate my frustrations with my old site mate, who ended her service and is now back home, she said it happened to her all the time. It's almost part of the reality of living here. NOT COOL!
More freakin frustrations....
Another leering frustration is about interruptions. Not being a native speaker and currently learning, and not being able to express myself as I would want is a frustration in itself, not to add another factor to it. So here is the story...My tutor the Assistant Director of the High School came to me one day and asked if I want to help out with a Youth Seminar where youth from different districts of Moldova will come to our school. I was, again, happy and flattered she included me.
I spent a week, reading up and collecting all my ideas on different activities dealing with AIDS/HIV and life skills etc. Finally at our meeting, I started my explanation then, I swear during the whole 10 minutes or so about 5 different people walk into the room and just started talking and my tutor would respond back to them in the middle of me stumbling through my Romanian. Then afterwards she would turn back to me and say, “and then what's next?” as though she expected me to just keep on going all along without stopping in the middle of all these rude interruptions. This continued, where I would stop talking as people come in and they would have their conversations, and she got agitated with me for stopping every time.
I know I wrote about this as a cultural factor before, but knowing this still does not help my self-esteem in feeling like people actually want to hear what I have to say. In my mind, there is a lack of respect taking place here. Yet again I need to keep in mind that the thing about interruptions here is that it is known as showing respect to people of power, in a way to show that they are a person of importance, i.e. that they have a lot going on. I will work on this...I am well aware that this is another aspect of myself that I need to work on...which is Being FIERCE!!
There is a realization that being here IS NOT EASY. In a way I knew that coming into this...I DID, maybe I just didn't think that I would have to confront situations that turned out to be different than what I'd expected. No matter what the circumstances are, I am here and that is that. What do I want to do about it? Is the question. I will take what I get and make something out of it (Don't you dare think of lemonade).
Back in September, my Country director wrote this amazing entry about what it means to be a Peace Corps volunteer. He captured it very well...I am going to include an excerpt here (the comments in parentheses are from me):
Long ago, in college, on our crew team, the saying “No Pain, No Gain”
was very popular. It was also very accurate.
Nobody performed at their best, or even adequately,
not even the two oarsmen who went on to row on
national and Olympic teams, without reaching a pain threshold,
and pushing beyond it.
That is the way with endurance sports.
Being a Volunteer is different, though it is also in many ways
a type of endurance race. Peace Corps involves thresholds of
a different sort. The loneliness. Frustrations.
Cultural differences, language ability.
There is something we have no word for:
the state of awareness that one is (24) years old and
possesses a degree from a major United States University
and yet the (the 4 year old kindergarten kid) can walk down the
street of your village and communicate better than you can.
That state creates a barrier, a threshold, one that makes us
want to back away, find an easier route (such as the first flight home),
a path that avoids the embarrassment and effort of fumbling through another
tortured interaction with another new person. When we push
past that barrier, the next day we find another, then another,
and another, and inevitably it takes its emotional toll.
(I know all about how that is)
Peace Corps is not about crummy conditions, or about enduring
the difficult. The fact that you do not have to carry water
five miles every morning does not cheapen the experience.
(which I sure am glad I don't have to do)
The fact that you can flip a switch and usually illuminate the
kitchen does not reduce your achievements.
But Peace Corps IS about pushing beyond those thresholds
of difficulty. If cultural barriers were easy, there would be no
need for Peace Corps. If languages were easy to learn,
Americans would know four or five apiece. If markets and
English, health and (Community and Organization Development)
concepts were easy to teach, we would
not ship Americans 10,000 kilometers to remote villages in
Moldova. Our goals ARE important, and achieving them IS
worth the effort, but doing so will never be easy.
So…am I talking about 90-day cultural immersion policies?
(which about 90% of my group broke, it means we were not allowed to spend nights outside our sites for the first 3 months at site)
Yes. And about finding a tutor and working hard at the language?
Yes. And about trying another way to make the host
family situation work, and the balky partner work? Yep, yep.
But I am also talking about day to day, little things, big annoyances,
confronting what we don’t like to do. (i.e. shouting at people at the post office, read on you'll find out)
I am talking about Volunteers, and Staff. About me.
No pain, no gain. Not the most enjoyable of credos by which
one can live. But pick out the Moldova 19 (the group that recently ended their service, my group is M22) whom you think was the most successful, and the happiest with their service.
Ask them about the difficult times, and how they got through
them. Their words will be different. But somewhere in there
you will hear about thresholds confronted, and crossed. The
most difficult path is usually the wrong way. But the simplest
path rarely leads where you really want to go.
Again...What is my plan??? Thus said, the plan is: I'm going to push beyond my thresholds and be FIERCE!!
That is actually what I'm going to do. I'm going to be persistent, I'm going to demand work, I am going to do what I came here to do. I came here with a mission, and I know that expectations are sometimes too great, but I don't think that mine is way out there. All I want to do is work with children and have people want to work with me. That isn't too big or way whacked.
Awhile back, before a M 19 left, they wrote about how important persistence is to being a Peace Corps volunteer, especially here in Moldova...following is an excerpt so that you can get a better idea of how it works here (again in parentheses are my comments):
Don’t believe me? Go down to your local post office tomorrow morning and try to mail a
letter. You, the odd one out, patiently waiting in line, will be cut, pushed out of the way,
and surpassed by many a Moldovan – some yelling, all somehow working their way through the crowd.
(Can't even begin to tell you have annoying and frustrating it is when this happens-this was why it took about 2 hours for me to send a package to Ethan for his birthday until I figured it out, way after the matter) The postal worker, having watched you wait with no results for at least 30 minutes (try 2 hours) by now, will yet again help the person who ends up in the front of the line (fairly or unfairly).
Because the line cutter wants it more, or at least that’s how it appears on the surface. If you really wanted to be helped, you would have pushed to the front. ( i.e be Freakin FIERCE) You would be raising your voice, not texting your friends about how frustrating everything is in Moldova. You look content waiting. So they will let you wait.
Once you understand this simple concept – sometimes you have to be persistent (can be read as annoying) to get results – you will not only be able to mail letters quickly, you will, hopefully, be able to better secure yourself work in your community.
Yes, you “GAVE UP” two years of your life, moved how many thousand miles away from home; you were expecting work to be waiting for you – productive, hands-on, making a difference, hardcore “Peace Corps” work. You were under the impression (darn expectations again), perhaps that this work was just waiting to be done, that it NEEDED to be done… Why else would you have come? (yeah, RIGHT!!!)
Sometimes, as we all have learned, what we thought was, isn’t always the reality of Peace Corps (for better and worse). Maybe one person in your group was handed their perfect job, with individually tailored work on a platter (such as, my co-volunteer who actually did her Halloween fundraising with success, you wanna know why? Her partner has the title and is getting paid only for her work as a "Project Designer", how wonderful is that to find someone already dedicated) – but believe it or not those are the rare situations. (Oh, she also has a site mate!!! how unfair!)
Perhaps your counterpart is an “absentee landlord,” never there, has no time, and is not-motivated to work with you. Or even worse, you may think your counterpart is “part of the problem” in various ways. Maybe your organization only exists on paper.
Maybe it’s a grant chaser. Maybe it seems they just want you to translate said grants (been there, done that). Maybe not. But let’s assume for some reason that your primary assignment doesn’t work out, at all. You’ve waited on kids at internet cafes (or at the school) for months, you’ve waited on meetings that never happened, you’ve tried over and over to address the “communication problem” with your counterpart, with no results. You’re fed up, frustrated with yourself, with them, and with Peace Corps. What do you do?
However it translates; Annoying, Fierce, Persistence, Making Lemonade...it all means one thing and that is, I'm not going to sit around and wait for what I want to come to me. I freaking gave up so much to be here and I'm going to turn it into something worthwhile, even if at times I just want to throw in the towel and call it quits. You know why, it's because I'm F-ING COMMITTED!!!
I wanted this for so long, it doesn't matter if it turns out to be different from what I'd expected it to be. It doesn't matter that it's WAY F-ING HARDER than I thought. My emotional toll has come and it will keep coming, and that is okay, as long as I keep on learning. No matter how many nights I spend crying my eyes out, it's all ok as long as I find some BEAUTY underneath it all, as my old site mate advised me.
She also said something else that has helped open up my eyes, "To fulfill why I went (Moldova) meant I had to become comfortable with me." That I am still trying to work out. I am in the process of getting in touch with all sides of me, not hiding the bullshit, the side of me who can cut lines and shout at people to get her mail sent. I too can be the person who ask for what she wants and will fight for it.
In hopes that this has enlightened you a bit on how things have been lately for me in Moldova, I will sign off until next time. With this I promise, I will continue to be FIERCE with a bit of a Moldovan touch...Why not, it won't hurt.
Monday, September 8, 2008
My entertainment for one evening was watching my host dad lower a watermelon down to the bottom of the well to keep it cool. “It's even better than the refrigerator or the cellar”, he said and he was right, the next day he brought it back up and it was wonderfully cold and yummy. He also said that when he was growing up, his family would store up to 20 watermelons in the well! Hmm...wouldn't that be nice, a watermelon a day till the end of summer! He also mentioned rather proudly that growing up he spent all his time in the fields with the watermelons and the only thing he ate was watermelon and bread. My host mom then added, “That is why he's not healthy today.” referring to how in the last few weeks, he's been banned from alcohol because he's getting injections for all his sickness.
This month, I've noticed that the church bell has been ringing more than the usual every Sunday, in remainder of it being a day of rest or for other days, being a Saint's day. I normally ask when I hear the church bell ringing outside those days, “Is it a holiday today?” to my host family and they would respond, “No, someone died today.” I've learned to tell the difference and need not ask anymore.
When there is a death, the bell rings every 20 minutes during the whole service, and then follows a march with the casket to the cemetery passing through the road by my house. I can tell when this happens due to the amount of religious flags and towels draped to the side of them passing my fence, and sometimes there would be a choir singing along.
I asked my host dad, after observing that lately there has been more deaths following each other than when I first came, “Is it true that there are more deaths in the summer than in any other time?” He said that this year the weather has been really hot and food has been more expensive that is why more people have been dying and besides in the winter, people have wine to drink and they stay healthier that way. I'm not sure how true the last explanation is, but it sure made me think.
Before it got steaming hot outside, during one of my walks around the village I stopped to the buy a bar of chocolate with walnuts (the best kind, only if it's in the red packaging with Russian letters on it). Then I thought how wonderful it would be to walk and eat at the same time, until I got some stares along the way. I wasn't quite sure what was going on, I usually get stares, or sometimes even dirty looks, but this was different, it felt different. I didn't understand what it was from, until I was walking pass this house and a lady came out, barely any teeth left and said something I couldn't understand, I couldn't tell if it was from her missing teeth or if it was in Russian. However, she motioned at my purse and then I realized that she must have seen me eat the chocolate, so I gave her some. It totally occurred to me at that time how arrogant I must seem to walk around eating something that some people can not afford. I feel really bad for not taking that into consideration beforehand. Well, now I know not to do that anymore.
I've been spending the last couple of weeks working on drawing a mural for my host mom's classroom. She had seen some of my work that I'd started after getting all my art supplies from the art piața and later asked me to do a mural in the new classroom. I should mention that she had just gotten her Psychology teaching degree and will now start to teach it at the high school! It will be the first time the subject is being taught at the school, which is very exciting, therefore, she got a bigger classroom. As of now, I've finished the drawing and will spend this week painting it to get the room ready for the new school year. She's been wanting it to be a surprise for her students and the staff, so she has asked me to not say anything. I've been feeling weird being seen around the school at 9pm on a Saturday night. I bet they are all wondering, “What the heck is the she doing sneaking around here?”
It has been a process working with my host mom, I've got to say because, she is a perfectionist such as I. She definitely wants it to be a certain way and I totally understand, she is the one who has to teach and see at it all day everyday. I've been trying to not take things personally and know that she is only voicing what she wants and I want to think I would do the same if I were in her position, if anything I should probably learn from her to demand for what I want. I have a hard time already trying to figure out what it is I want at most times, so I guess once I have that down I should be on the right direction.
Well, it boils down to this, I only have four more days to paint because this weekend I won't be in site. I will be spending my weekend at the beach! Yes, finally this summer will be complete! Therefore, it's crunch time and the other day she asked me if I knew that this Wednesday is Independence day for Moldova, which means no one will be working. I had no idea, I mean I was told during training but do I remember these things? No. We were both glad that I can spend all day Wednesday day painting, but what I want to tell you more about is what she said after all of this.
When you think of Independence Day, 4th of July for us, what do you think of?
Pride and joy for your country? To some extent we all feel that way for America. Well, she said that she doesn't understand why Wednesday is Independence Day when the people in this country can hardly live. It's not something to be joyful about. She explains that she doesn't want anyone to have something another person doesn't have. For one to have an advantage (fair or not) over another person. She said that she doesn't see how Moldova can benefit from their Independence from Russia when now that the country is The Republic of Moldova, no one knows where it is on the map. Yes, Moldova is independent, independent from help and resources.
Then she went on to say that Sunday is Ziua de Limba, which means Language Day when the national language switched to Romanian over Russian and the alphabet switched from Cyrillic to Latin. She seemed displeased and didn't seem to see the importance of such a change when she had to switched from writing Romanian using the Cyrillic alphabet all her life to one day having to write in Latin alphabet and till this day, she said she writes with mistakes. These changes she said, would mean something to her if it proved that Moldova is a thriving country but Moldova is poor due from it's independence from Russia.
On the other side, Language Day for some Moldovan signifies the greatest movement of independence from Russia and many fought for that change. It was interesting to me to hear her take on it, but I am not at all surprise for I've met many Moldovan who have expressed their desire to still be apart of the Soviet Union, where everyone had work and schooling and “wasn't suffering”.
There is a lot of history here and I am mostly listening and taking in information when this subject arises.
I came home from work one day to my host dad picking grapes and making wine. We sat and talked, well actually, I mostly listened to him explain to me the process of making wine and which grapes tend to make the best wine and so on and so fourth. I followed him to the barrel of grapes as he mushed it all together and he continued to tell me that there are some grapes that after being left for two weeks will clump together and float to the top of the barrel. He said at one time he gave the clump to the chickens, hens and roosters, as to every food items left over. He soon discovered that soon after they all kept on falling down and eventually fell asleep that that particular type of grapes are excellent for wine making. He said that the hen was drunk for 3 days, only waking up stumbling over for food and water!
Then he continued on with a story about his neighbor who one day did the same thing he did, but she didn't think that her poultry was drunk from the grapes, but thought that they all died, so she plucked all their feathers to keep for stuffing pillows and tossed them by the canal. She was awoken in the night to all the featherless chicken clucking their way back home. Wow, what an image!
As to work, I've started computer tutoring for the people at the office. My partner who usually types everything up for everyone is on vacation for the whole month, and so everyone has been coming to me to type up documents. I had to quickly learn how to type in Romanian and to read people's handwriting. After that I started to mention computer lessons and so far my accountant's cashier is the only one who've started lessons with me, but both my Mayor and the Secretary has expressed their interest. My goal is to get know how to conduct these lessons on a wider scale and later have a computer seminar for everyone in the village that is interested at the computer lab in the high school. The challenge is for me to familiarize myself with using the computer in Russian. Thank god, Peace Corps gave us COD volunteers manual on how to interpret it.
In the grant department, I've found an Infrastructure grant for the Mayor in which, he wants to use it for fixing up the main road and bridge in the village, repairing the bathroom in the high school (which is most needed), getting two more micro buses that will travel to and from our district center (right now we have one bus, people mostly hitch hike if they don't know anybody in the village that is going as well), and installing gas for those who don't have it already. The grant is from an American organization apart of the World Bank Organization and it needs to be written in English.
For the last several months, I've been spending most of my time translating information on the grant and giving it to him. Until one day, I found out that I could translate the whole web page using Google Translate in just a second. That must have been the happiest day for me in Moldova so far. Who would have known, my one month of wasted time can be done in a second. Don't know if I should cry or sing. I guess the only benefit to it is I've learned new Romanian words!
The next step is mostly waiting on my part for my tutor who wrote the last grant for the village, to write this one in Romanian and soon after I and my partner, who knows a little English will work together to translate it back in English. What a process!
That's the extent to what is going on in my work life. I'm hoping that as soon as school starts up once again I should be able to get some clubs going or participate in existing one and get to hang out with children more often.
I have a feeling that next month will go by much faster, since more than half of the month I will be occupied. There will be a COD project and design management seminar that me and my partner or my mayor will have to go to for three days, then I have my Language Exam with classes before hand for refreshing then the exam, and finally my vacation to Budapest and Romania! I'm sure that after all of that I will come back refreshed and ready to get more work going.
As you probably already know, my external hard drive decided not to work anymore and my phone was stolen. First it was the hard drive, which not only had all my documents backed up, but movies in which I've downloaded from other volunteers. Which left me to resort to find other things to occupy my nights, other than watching movies, such as reading, doing tae bo, yoga or mediating and playing games on my computer or just laying on my bed staring at my ceiling. Then my phone which was pretty much my life line to the outside world. Now without both of those things, I've experienced what it's like to go “without”. I had no idea I depended on those things until it is gone. The phone was more drastic, feeling so disconnected from people, it's not that I used the phone that much besides the occasional texting between the volunteers and people at home, but to know that there is no way to communicate gives me a panic feeling.
How did I get this way? What ever happened to life without technology, guess that is not possible, since I am using my laptop to type this right now. This is dependence, I am no longer independent of anything. Simply can't be. I don't think I can ever revert to times before technology.
Speaking of technology, all of this is in hopes that tomorrow my internet hero will come and fix it up and I will get to send this. Some of the info on here is out dated since I've written it several days ago. I'm sure you understand. Signing off with all the love in the world from Moldova!
I just hope the person who stole my phone can rejoice in their glory of losing me $100!
Text me via my new number...in case you've forgotten how here's a reminder....
My new number is 011-373-688-12633!
You can send me text messages to my phone by going to...
Go to www.orange.md
click on the box on the right hand side with a picture of an envelope, that says Orange Text and „expediaza web sms” (send web sms)
It will take you to another web page that says Web SMS at the top. Follow the directions:
De la—type in your name instead of „websms”
Catre—leave the opening as +37368 and then type in 812633 (the rest of my number)
Mesajul—type your message (such as, Eden, we love you! :)
Introduceti—type the 5-digit code that you see in the blank box.
Click „trimite sms"
Thursday, July 17, 2008
My community is in the middle of getting a grant for repairing the closed down sport complex. The only agreement for us to get the money is for the community to raise a certain amount of money. We need to do this by the end of this month! My Mayor has sent out several people out in the village to get contributions, so far we've gotten a fourth of what we need.
Today, I talked to him about putting together a futbal tournament event, for we have three very successful teams in our village, in order to raise more money. He said that they have never done anything like that before for fundraising. He said he would think about it and talk to the Vice Primar about it.
I'm waiting to see what will come out of my seed. I do realize that we don't have much time, but hey if the Peresecina crew was able to get a concert going and raise a decent amount of money in two weeks, I believe Gura Galbenei can do it too! I just hope that my Mayor believes it too.
Another point I would like to bring up is how much I love the sense of time here in Moldova. It took some getting use to, don't get me wrong, but I'm slowly enjoying it. For a person like me who is usually always late for something or other, it's great! Time is not something that is threatening me anymore. Big Bad Time...has left my life for the time being.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Wings of Hope
We are getting ready for our trip to Moldova where
we will be working on a kindergarten project through
the organization that we started,
Wings of Hope International(WHI)(www.whintl.org).
We had some success raising funds for the project
and these funds will be used to make a big difference
in the lives of many children in Moldova.
I would like to ask you to consider helping us
raise funds by using the GoodSearch search engine
that is powered by Yahoo search. Every time a person
searches using GoodSearch the company donates one
penny to the non-profit organization that person
chooses. We are registered with GoodSearch and every
time a person chooses Wings of Hope International
we receive one penny.
If you would like to support us when you are doing any
search on the web, please follow these directions:
1. Type www.goodsearch.com
2. On the first page in the second box were it says
"WHO DO YOU GOODSEARCH FOR?"
type Wings of Hope International.
3. Then you can type whatever you would like to search
in the box above " WHO DO YOU GOODSEARCH FOR?"
You also can make www.goodsearch.com your default home
page by going to TOOLS on the drop down menu and then
choose Internet Options, then choose General tab after
you chose Internet Options and type in the box that
says Address: http://www.goodsearch.com/
Thank you for considering supporting
our Wings of Hope International.
Monday, July 14, 2008
The thing to take note: It is looking UP!
Worst in Europe
Share of women in Parliament: 22 percent
Female-to-male income ratio: 63:100
Female literacy rate: 99 percent
Moldova is a major source country for women trafficked into prostitution. In a country whose per capita income (adjusted for purchasing power) is in the same league as India and Nicaragua, young women and girls often fall for recruiters’ promises of well-paying jobs abroad, only to be forced to work for pimps in places such as Russia, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates. Meanwhile, the government’s efforts to prevent trafficking and protect victims have been weak; some government officials and police officers have even been complicit in trafficking. But things might be looking up: The first female prime minister took office this year.
SOURCE: U.N. Human Development Report
To see the rest of the list go here...http://www.foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=4319