Friday, December 18, 2009

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Autumn Breeze

Here we are already close to the middle of October. Autumn is definitely here. Moldova is so beautiful right now, the hills are covered with such a colorfully woven carpet of the inevitable change of the season. I love it! It's almost like Moldova came alive.

The last few months, I've come to the realization of how much at home I feel here. It involved taking time to being away on vacation for me to come back and feel the difference at how I adjusted to being back, to being accepted once again to my community, to how comfortable I became to the daily routines of every day encounters again.

It is funny how it took all this time to get where I am, and then once I'm here I have to think and prepare myself to leaving in just a few more months (6 months).

Change is very much a requirement for the functionality of Peace Corps' life.

Lately I've been looking at things here with a new pair of lens. To fully enjoying it as much as I can. The knowledge of leaving one day has made me appreciate the very littlest things. Mostly, the relationships I have with everything and everyone.

Another reason for this too, could be that I no longer possess a camera, for it is in the process of getting replaced. Just the mere act of having to write every experience to memory have changed how I experience things. I am able to enjoy it so much more.

When it comes to work progress, I can't say that I have much more activities than I had before, but the importances of every task has an added weight than it did before. Maybe it's because I know how it works, the inner workings of time and improvements, maybe I've finally gotten to the stage of acceptance of reality. Whatever it is, I feel like my everyday efforts add to the massive.

Like today for example, one hour of sitting with my grant writing partners to go through planning of activities for this project to repair the bathrooms at the high school was such a major success for my time here.

Today I was also invited to go present myself and about Peace Corps to the 6th graders. Through my awesome and improved language skills, I was fearless, and loved every minute of it. I love doing this stuff. Yes, I completed goal number 2 today!

With that said, I want to bring up something that a newer volunteer shared with me. Recently I was told that during another volunteer's research into coming to Peace Corps Moldova, my blog scared them into joining. My reply to that was, "I'm glad that you still decided to come, and as you can see I'm still here."

For those who are at that place within your decision to leap into the amazing journey that is Peace Corps, I just want to say, that yes, Peace Corps is hard, you will face many challenges, in which, you might never ever dream of encountering. However, Peace Corps is one opportunity in your life to break through to people's heart by immersing oneself into another country, it's culture and traditions and live as they do. It'll be your chance to do something for your country, to represent all that is great and not so great in America. To build a bridge of unity within human beings. To learn more about yourself, your strengths and weaknesses and most of all, how far you can go.

Before I came to Moldova, throughout my research I didn't come across information that I now can say exposed me to the trueness of Peace Corps, and I know one experiences Peace Corps differently, but the challenges and struggles that volunteers go through was not elaborately expressed. Because of that, I believed I was not able to properly prepare myself for all that I would be facing.

I do hope that future readers of my experiences will not be discouraged to pursue Peace Corps. Better yet, I challenge you to make it your own, to get the most out of it, for there are so much there to absorb, to learn and to love.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

To Golden Leaves and an Empty Office

I realized I haven't written in awhile, so much time has passed, and yet not so many new interesting dealings to report, or has it, maybe it's that I am so used those abnormal happenings that I'd forgotten that the me a year ago would completely appreciate such an experience. Thus today I am attempting to get back on this writing wagon and tune the rest of the world in what has been happening.

As I am typing this I am sitting outside on our wonderful electric green couch that looks like it traveled in time from the 60s that has a very classic Moldovan pink and maroon blanket covering it, with Julia, my cat sitting right by me.

Earlier I saw Julia bring Markisa, our kitten, a baby rat. I was in the middle of sweeping our front porch as she came up all proud that she had found such a prize winner for her baby. As Markisa head over to the rat and gnaw at it, I was standing there in place just observing her excitement in my own excitement at such a sight.

Now Markisa has given up on tossing the poor rat around and is asleep in her little bed and the rat is abondaned a few inches away from my feet by the couch. My host dad said that it is Markisa's and we will leave it there for her. For how long, I don't know, I just know that I am not bothered at this awkward feeling of disgust at a dead rat by my feet.

With all that has been going on, I would like to express my gratitude for summer. For fruit, and vegetables and even more than that, longer days and me, with a much happier deposition to keep on learning and busting it. July was just like how the Moldovans call it, like being in an oven. It was so hot, some days, just walking to work, which is just a few feet away from my house, would make me sweat. On the other hand, having longer days allowed me to have activities going on after work and allowed me to work on the mural and help out around the house on canning veggies and making compot for winter. As the summer is narrowing down, I am not sure how my feelings are on winter, however I do have a trip (to Rome) coming up that will take my mind away form the most depressive time of the year.

* * *

Here I am weeks later staring at this update. I am currently sitting in my now empty office, with bare walls and my social assistant missing. She has left on her 3 years maternity leave, thus has cleaned out all her belongings. What does this mean? It means that my days are very quiet. No longer filled with funny stories of newly wed life (she just got married) and baby awaiting stories. I do miss that.

As of now we still don't know who will be in her place. I surely hope that the next person will be as cool as she was and will be enthusiastic with helping me write up some grants or start some sort of project. Our current project to repair the high school's bathrooms is currently at a turning point, whether it's for the better or not, I'm not sure. My partners are busy with the school year starting up again and of course, the fact that I will be on vacation has helped bury that issue a bit. I am, however, looking forward to a new start once I get back.

For now, I am enjoying my time traveling around Moldova and hope to continue to visit other volunteers in the future to get a more comprehensive picture of the country.

On Saturday I caught a bus to Comrat, the capital of Gagauzia, which is an autonomous sourthern region of Moldova about an hour south of my village. People in Gagauzia are descendants of Turkey and Bulgaria and even have their own language, Gaguzian tho everyone speak Russian. Romanian is much understood there but very few actually know how to speak. It was such an experience, the moment I entered the city, all the signs and establishment are in Russian, and I felt as if though I'd left Moldova.

The reason for my visit was to visit one of my mentees, who has been there for one month in site, and is still settling down, though has been great learning Russian and finding work within her youth organization. I am so proud of her. She showed me the city, which is beautifully laid with paved roads and restaurants and big government buildings with a huge church and park with trash cans etc. I was blown away at how Western European the feel of the city was compared to what I am used to seeing in rest of the Moldova.

My mentee and I sat and talked for most of the days I was there and she ended up doing such a great job translating our conversations with her host mom who speaks no Romanian. I talked to her in romanian and some words she was able to make out, but she would reply in Russian. The history of how Moldova came to be is so interesting in how it divided up the people into these regions of separate identities of one's own culture and language.

There are only 4 more days until I get to be in the eternal city of Rome! I can't barely wait.

Signing out.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Mural

I finally finished the mural in my host mom's 6th grade classroom, just in time before the school year starts up again.

The theme was chosen by my host mom over many different books she used over the school year. The most interesting topic to me, is the one of Prometheus (top corner left), a Greek Myth where Zeus hid fire from humans in retribution of trickery and Prometheus gave fire back to the people, therefore was eternally punished and chained on top of a rock where an eagle ate his liver out everyday. However, due to Prometheus immortality his liver regenerated every morning.

According to my host mom, in which was also the reason why she chosed to have this on the mural is that Prometheus' liver ability to regenerate is from him committing to a good deed (giving the people back fire).

I am seriously glad the mural is done, a nice feeling it is. Now it is back to free time where I don't know what to do with myself.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

If you can't be...

This morning I came into work and the lady who is the typist for our Mayor's office came and asked if I can read in Romanian. I replied, "a little", and she handed me a religious book and her church's newspaper.

I take from this several things, first, she is comfortable with me enough (we have become quite great friends, I helped her set up an email account just the other day), and likes me enough to share that part of her life with me.

Second, that she believes in my language skills enough to give me reading material.

Third, I was taken back from it at the very beginning, feeling a little impinged upon.

Fourth, After reading some of the materials in the newspaper, I came to a realization that I don't have to necessarily believe in the same main element of the whole representation of the newspaper to get away from the great messages it has. Thus I came upon a poem that I love and want to share with you. I will try my best to translate it for you.

First the Romanian version...

Dacă nu poți fi

Dacă nu poți fi un pin în vârful dealului,
Fii un tufiș în vale. Fii însă
Cel mai bun tufiș de pe marginea pârâului;
Fii o tufă, dacă nu poți fi un copac.

Dacă nu poți fi un tufiș, fii un fir de iarbă,
Și un drum va fi fericit;
Dacă nu poți fi păstrăv, atunci fii un biban-
Dar cel mai vioi biban din tot lacul.

Nu putem fi toți căpitani, trebuie să fim echipaj,
E treabă pentru noi toți aici.
Sunt munci grele și munci ușoare,
Iar sarcina pe care o avem e chiar lângă noi.

Dacă nu poți fi drum, fii atunci o potecă,
Dacă nu poți fi soare, fii o steluță;
Nu prin mărime o să căștigi sau o să dai greș-
Fii cel mai bun în ceea ce esți!

Preluat din cartea „Lasă grijile, începe să trăiești”
de Dale Carnegie

Now the translation version (which I think takes away from it, but whatever):

If you can not be

If you can not be a pine on top of the hill,
Be a scrub in the valley. But be the
Best bush on the edge of the stream;
Be a bush if you can not be a tree.

If you can not be a bush, be a blade of grass,
And the road will be a happy one;
If you can not be a trouble, then be a bass -
But most of all be the snappiest bass in the lake.

We can not all be captains, but we can be crews,
Ther is work for all of us here.
There are hard work and easy work
And the task we have is right next to us.

If you can not be a road, then be a path,
If you can not be the sun, be a little star;
It is not by size, you win or you fail -
Be the best in what you are!

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Highlights of Normacly

You know how sometimes you have a lot to say, but once it is said the magic of it goes away? Well, that is how I feel at times about the omnibus activities I find myself in. Rather than put it into a million pieces of explication by my part, I am going to give you the facts. Only the facts! Hai davai!

Yesterday I spent an hour of my lunchtime lugging onions from our garden into a bucket in the hot scalding sun to the lay out on the balcony of the old house.

A massive thunderstorm embarked upon our land yesterday, just as I started painting the mural at the school. While painting, I couldn't stop thinking about how I was going to escape the rain and the treacherous mud home. My host mom called and asked if I wanted her to come to the school so she can give me my boots. I said, no and then fell on my ass just as I was right at the gate to my house. I managed the rest of the 5 minutes walk before that just fine! Then I had to shower by candle light, because the lights went out. Luckily I had an hour left of battery life on my laptop so I could play spider solitare until I dozed off to sleep.

At work this morning, everyone is hyped about my social assistant's wedding. About half of the office were gone into the district center to buy flowers. I am super excited to bare witness to the ceremony later today at the church.

The janitor to my Mayor's office scared me while coming out of the door earlier today and now we've become friends and everytime he passes by my office he smiles.

Earlier today, a man I never met before walked into my office, as I have my door open and sat down while talking on the phone in Russian, without introducing himself, sat and talked on the phone while he sat and stared at me working. Then after 10 minutes he got up and left without another word, though with a gruesome glance. Weird!

It finally dawned on me that the more I see myself as being an open person, a person who excepts people as they are, the more I realize that I can't possibly be all that I think I am. There are still concepts that gets underneath my skin. Tugs at my heart. Makes me wonder, if being an open person is a praise worthy cause, if it means you give up your identity as a whole? Something to ponder over.

The other day my host parents' grandniece came over with her American friend from Alabama. She's been studying abroad there for two years and had just graduated. I sat and talked to her about issues concerning the mentality of Moldovans youth and how complicated it is, especially in rural areas to get motivation in community projects, if all they think about is leaving. I also got to see through her American friend's eyes how Moldova is like, for he just arrived and is his first trip out of America.

I want to talk about connectedness. The overall essence of a family here, especially the very apporiate ones are absolutely a tight knit one. My host mom talks to her children at least three or four times a day. She knows what is going on with them, heart and motivation.

In America, you would be lucky if I'd talked to my parents once in a week. It is rather common to be out of the house and have cut that tie. On the flip side, this builds indepedence. Good or bad, I learned early that I was on my own, though till this day I yearn to be that close to my loved ones. Making that attempt and having it be accepted from the other end is the question I guess.

At least for the most part I am getting that close tie with my host parents. Via their questions, which I took as over bearing in the beginning, has grown on me and have helped me become dependent for their concern and worries. Maybe this little taste of the otherside of love and caring will change how I raise my children. Maybe?

What is the downlow for this weekend: I have this wedding today, tomorrow a trip to the north to visit a fellow volunteer for a girl's day picnic. Fun Times!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Result from Online Poll on Peace Corps Connect

I am surprised at first to find out that language and technical skills are so low, but it does makes sense that being resourceful and flexible are a more needed trait to have in order to be successful.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

My Success Story

I believe that every volunteer have their own success story to tell about their service in the Peace Corps. I also think that no matter how small a volunteer's achievements may be, they all add up to fulfill the 3 very essential goals of Peace Corps.

Here I will reflect upon some of my successes and will come back to it, once I become aware of them as days come to be.

This is my Success Story

Me over coming the normal things that I wouldn't do or thought I couldn't do to do the things I do.

Clarifying the image of America to my host country nationals. Even by answering a simple question such as, "Does it snow in America?" to a 2nd grade classroom or a much more complex one, such as, "What do America believe in?"

Being able to finally tell my first story at the dinner table to my host family in complete Romanian.

Eating that chicken heart I found in my soup, since it was a delicacy my host mom prepared without thinking heaving thoughts.

Coming out of a tough meeting, with frustrations, but feeling like, at least now my work partners know what to expect from me.

Doing an impromptu presentation on everything about Buddhism to a 3rd grade classroom.

Learning all the skills I have been trained necessary to do my job.

Successfully building a network with another organization that can help build relationship among my oranization in working together to reach the same goals.

Feeling comfortable to be me no matter how akward the situation is.

Speaking to myself in another language.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Super Powers

I have those...some days I am super at having an array of them
today not so much...powers of invisibility.

Intense and none transparent
Not really sure how to proceed...abilities are construed in silence and darkness

Today I feel powerless, nonessential, nonimpactful
Am I cut out for this day to day translation?
Patience, and endurance the everyday snacks I munch on

You know that aura of self doubt
Awkwardness of being stuck in a rotating vortex of a circle
Mundaneness of ordinarily routines that is placid

I yearn for that adventure, in which, embarked by collaboration
and understanding and world peace
Of which, I anticipated upon arrival and still do

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

So You Wanna Join the Peace Corps....

I stumbled upon a site today that I thought would be very useful for those who are pondering about entering into an adventure of there lives...Here are some great info from this site.

"Ahhhhh, the Peace Corps. Meandering through a rural village in an exotic place where no one speaks your language. Palm trees and romantic monsoons. Elephants and water buffaloes lumbering past your front porch. Grass huts and smiling children looking up at you adoringly.

These are probably the stereotypical images that come to your mind when you think of the Peace Corps. Well here's a reality check: what appears to be adoration in those children's eyes may simply be a look of amusement, as in, "Who's that freak with the ugly sandals?" Also, there's as much chance that you'll find yourself in the urban center of Kazakhstan as in a grass hut in Fiji. Two potentially equally rewarding, but vastly differing environments.

The reality is that each Peace Corps volunteer's experience varies greatly from every other's, and your best bet is to simply get rid of any and all preconceived notions of how life in the Corps will be. If you have little or no tolerance for uncertainty, stop reading now. The Peace Corps is not for you.

What is the Peace Corps?

Basically, joining the Peace Corps means that you'll go to a foreign country (where English may not be spoken) and do some kind of service there at the request of its government. Whether it's teaching, or helping sick children, or working with the government on cleaning up an urban city, it's probably not going to be the kind of work we usually think of as "glamorous."

The world has changed since John F. Kennedy founded the Peace Corps in 1961. Although many volunteers still live and work in rural villages, and haul their drinking water from a nearby river, it is now just as common to find a volunteer giving computer training to university staff in a city and going home at night to electricity and running water.

What hasn't changed is the fact that joining the Peace Corps is a JOB, and volunteers still work, teach, and learn while completely immersed in another culture for two years (that's approximately 730 days, for those of you scoring at home). They have the chance to participate in a professional and cultural exchange that can have life-long educational benefits for all parties involved. Volunteers have the opportunity to prove that Americans' lives are not identical to those of the characters on Beverly Hills, 90210. Likewise, the country's citizens can prove that there's more to a country than what you see on CNN.

This SYW will present the logistics of how to apply to join the Peace Corps, what to expect and what not to expect, and perhaps debunk some Peace Corps myths. For instance, no, not all volunteers know how to sing "Kumbayah," and yes, many Republicans do join and love the experience. It also may be helpful to know that the age range of volunteers is 18 to 65. Seven thousand volunteers currently serve in 78 countries around the world, with the largest numbers in the fields of education and health, followed closely by environment and business. Facts like these are just begging to appear on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?





Yes, we've continually repeated the importance of commitment when joining the Peace Corps. There are definitely going to be some difficult times. There will be days when the hours just crawl by and you will ask yourself what the hell you are doing there. You will ponder the meaning of life and question the significance of your presence in this world. This is when you have to suck it up and play down the drama. After all, these are also common musings during coffee breaks at work in the U.S., right? In such dire times, also remember that you're pretty much a guest of the government just visiting. Most of the people live there year-round. So stop your bitching.

Yes, there will also be many, many times when you look around and are thoroughly amazed and excited at where you are and what you are doing. This may be a less likely stateside coffee break musing - unless it's damn good coffee.

The Peace Corps does an excellent job of providing a strong in-country support system, addressing both your physical and psychological needs. You'll have access to good health care and a library of resource materials that can be of great professional help. The network of support you will depend on the most will probably be the group of other volunteers in the country who are sharing your experience. Be friendly and talk to them. You're all in it together. It is VERY unlikely that you will be dropped in the middle of a desert completely alone with no other volunteers within a 2,000 mile radius.

If, nay, WHEN you do decide to join the Peace Corps, you can be assured it will be a life-changing experience. There is one statement that many a returned volunteer will readily confirm that has become a motto of the Peace Corps: it is indeed "the toughest job you'll ever love."

To read info for #1-#3 go here

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Trying to make sense of things

Moldovan government is still trying to find their new President. Last night, my host family had a very interesting conversation, where I had a really tough time trying to wrap my head around.

In the midst of great corn mush, with homemade goat cheese, and grilled fish in tomatoes sauce, the conversation over dinner was heated. Everyone had a thing or two to say about the current political situation, besides me, really.

There were shouting of one another that a person's opinion is allowed and though we are a family, we can have different opinions. Then someone said that they wished Japan would invade Moldova, to colonize it, because Japan is a rich country. Then there were talk that if one were to become president that they would declare war on America and then when America's soldiers arrived, they would act helpless and have America take care of them.

The concept behind all of this is ridiculous to me, really. I don't really know what to think or how to react, thus I remained quiet at the table. Somehow I can understand that the morale's for one's own government is down and the never end search for an outsider's help is needed. However, I don't ever think that I would want my country to be colonized and taken over by another's empire. But then again, I am not Moldovan. I can't possibly know the depths of what it's like to be Moldovan, ever.

This want to be colonized talk makes me ponder, and that paralleled with the talk of not going in to vote this next time around, because "why should the citizens vote, if Parliament couldn't do so in the decision of getting Moldova a president?" question is still a defensive reply I get.

Another puzzling situation, yet another subject altogether:

I was in tutoring earlier today. She asked me how is work? I replied that I am in the process of planning a Project Strategic Planning seminar for my Mayor's office, and I will invite two volunteers to help me with it. Her sudden reply was, "You really want to do a project before you leave, huh?"

That totally caught me off guard. Am I hear for my own ego, or am I here to help? Shouldn't her reply be, "We should get all your help before you leave, huh?" But that was not the case. This has put me in my place, yet again.

My reply was that my goal in being here is not to finish a project before I leave, it is to be better prepare, equip the Mayor's office and my village with resources for better development in the future.

That sounds awefully broad doesn't it, but that is what I am here to do. I am not going to beat myself upside the head everytime when my very ambitious thought in trying something fails.

I need to remember that it first need to come from my community, as a need, a want, a desire to work with me to get to those places. There needs to be an cooperation, a collaboration.

Lucky me, I have a list of the keys to a successful collaboration with me. I am going to list those things, so I can make sense of all of this:

Keys to successful collaboration

Take time to understand each other

Not every person has grant writing/project development experience

Every volunteer and every parnter has a different set of skills. Find out each other's strengths and weaknesses and build from there.

Agree on expectations that you have from each other.

Make lists of tasks and assign responsibilities.

Share responsibilities.

Create a work schedule.

Agree on times when you work together and keep to them.

Notify each other of any changes.

Does the organization that is applying for funding have the capacity to implement the project?

If not, work with the parnter to build the capacities of the organization so that future projects will be attainable.

Work together to train implementation team.

Be open to each other's opinions and ideas.

Be realistic about the project.

Be flexible.

A change of course is not necessarily negative, but it is important to discuss it.

In conclusion, this is a contract that involves two different sides to be in agreement to work together. I have my side, ready and now let's go!

The best thing happened today: My Mayor and I actually sat down for over 20 minutes looking over a funding website and wrote an email and made phone calls together. Now that is progress!! Yeah!

Signing out!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Lose Yourself to Gain Some

I know this is far gone from a normal blog update lately, however today I am committed to try and let you in on what is going on.

As I am sitting here in my yet again empty office with nothing else to do, except entertain my lack of amusement, here is my attempt to dig deep:

After a strenuous Taebo abs boot camp workout last night, the big bulky Billy Blanks said during one of his encouraging pep talk:

"Remember, in the military you gotta lose yourself to gain some."

Then he went on, in a rather lousy attempt to explain himself, only to continue to say something along this line:

"Getting into an exercise program, sometimes you can't do it by yourself, if you ever want to give up, you'll quit. You have to lose who you are as a person. What do I mean by that? I mean you CAN DO IT, but you can't do it unless you lose yourself! If you lose yourself, you'll reach your goals!"

Ok, I do this exercise video perhaps twice a week and a continuously I hear his "so called" pep talk. It wasn't until lately that I took what he said to thought. It makes me wonder if he is referring to the ideals that with anything there has to be a support factor, thus in his point of view, "buy my video so we can do it together!"

Or is he referring to the fact, that within all endeavors, that are strenuous (which I do admit, his workout video kicks my ass every time), require a form of reestablishing the basic foundation that you once thought structured your fundamental self identity as a person?

Then it makes me think of how this could pertain to my service here in Moldova. I can't exactly call life here strenuous, but sometimes life here (for me) is vigorously tiring. More so my first year. The constant thinking and evaluating and comprehending did do my brain its own workout session. Even now, the balancing act of knowing what is acceptable in another culture is still a workout, I have to force myself into, and mostly I tumble upon the knowledge via mistakes. But that is okay, I am learning.

Therefore, I think Billy Zane is right, in whatever terms or level he was referring to, I take away from his message that I sometimes need to leave my standards, my expectations, my rules and regulations that I once thought were so black and white, my roles in society, my definition of all that stands for justice, my out look at how the world function, behind me. I do need to lose myself. All that I once knew, to relearn and be open to what is, most times redefining my perspectives.

A couple of days ago, I reread a journal entry from exactly last year this month, and I realized how much I've made a turn around. I am not by any means, a different person, I am still the same me. I am, though, a better person. That I can say for sure.

In my last journal entry I wrote elaborately about my personal growth. I complain heavily sometimes about not seeing the impact in my service here. I forget to look inside and see the personal developments, in which I've gained. It's okay that I came here to give, but ended up coming out of it more selfish in that Moldova, Peace Corps, Moldovans, my Moldovan life gave more than I can give it. That is ok. So ok.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

My 1st Moldovan Wedding

My friend Olga had her wedding recently. It was my very first Moldovan wedding! I had a blast experiencing the traditions and customs.

Here is a break down of the events:

At 3 pm we arrived in north of Moldova to Mihaileni (4 hours drive from my village) after a masa at the bride's house. When we got to Mihaileni we were received by an array of guests and a marching band (coolest thing ever). Then we went to the Mayor's office to see them get registered.

Then we paraded over to the restaurant and started with the Hora right away. Then another, and another and 6 hours later, we were still dancing the Hora. This took place outside, without any chairs for resting purposes, but occasional wine shots to get energized again.

Here are some Hora dances:

The best part was when the villagers came out to celebrate as well. They brought their dinner and stood with their family and observed the festivities.

At 10pm we went inside and sat at the masa as the bride and groom's family danced around us. Then later there were a lot of gift exchange between the two families.

Here is a traditional dance with knotted bread to open up the gift exchange.

The celebration ended at 4am for us and then another 4 hours down south back home. I had a great time and so much fun. My feet were not so happy, however.

Here is me with the bride and groom.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Critical Periods in the Life of a Peace Corps volunteer

I had some down time today to clean out all my papers, manuals and books today since my social assistant borrowed my laptop. I figured, If there isn't anything to do, what is better than to clean right?

Well I ended up finding a piece of paper that shows all the stages that a Peace Corps volunteer goes through, which made me think...a lot about what the stages I've gone through and what I am going through now.

I think the most important thing for me to remember is that I am going through what is the norm. I am not alone! I am so much I hate to be so NORMAL at times, however, right now it is almost soothing to know this.

So I don't have time to post all the stages, but maybe I will one day so you can know what the ups and downs are like for volunteers, but today I'll share with you the stages I am at right now....

Month 7-10

Mid-service crisis
Doubt about program, role, self, government
Various Failures over time
Reflection: disillusionment, confusion in resolving frustrations vs. victories
New trainees arrive (June 11)
Holiday/vacation/break (Rome)

Behavior/ReactionImpatience with self, program, system
Blame on the program
Constant complaining

Holiday planning/Mini-vacations
Review work plan; set new goals
Plan vacation
Celebrate one year anniversary
Develop new recreation options
Write long-lost acquaintances
Explore better in-country relationships
Return to language study and practice

Month 16-20

Increased/more defined work pace(still in waiting)
Project work (yet again, still in waiting)
Awareness of time constraints
Realization of own limitations
Post PC considerations

Hyperactivity or apathy
Downgrade achievements
Over-identification in behavior

Visit new volunteers
Physical acitivity: "Get in shape"
Focus on relationships at site
Re-examine goals and time frame
Apply for GRE, write grad schools (check)
Explore work possibilities locally or in-country

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Zuia Mamelor!!

To celebrate Mother's Day I bought champagne and a box of chocolates, my host mom prepared an excellent dish of baked curry chicken and potatoes (yummmm) and we had a masa to honor all Mothers.

We sat outside and had a beautiful meal.

Host dad pouring the champagne!

Here we made a toast to all mothers and wishes of great health and love.

Hramului Gura Galbenei

Hram took place in Gura Galbenei on May 6th to celebrate when my village got settled, also representing when the Orthodox church in the village was built on St. Gheorghe's day. Among different activities, such as, a concert displaying Moldovan traditions, a wrestling match and other sport competitions for a prize of a roster, a goat or a turkey, there was also the dancing!

Here are some pictures I have to share:

In Moldova, where there is Hram there is a Hora dance!!! Here, it took place in the center of our village. It was great to see so many people come out and about to celebrate our Village's Birthday. It made me realize how big my village really is.

This gentleman is walking over to invite his wife to dance.

Here they are heading towards the dance floor.

Jamie (left) and Teresa (right) came out to celebrate Hram with us! My host mom is in the process of cutting into her wonderfully made chicken liver baked cake.

Here is the infamous liver cake!! It was very delicious!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Easter of the Dead

On our way to the cemetery packed full of people. My host brother is the one carrying a bucket full of tulips and host cousin is carrying the basket full of goodies to the right.

Once we got there we provided our offerings of knotted bread, candles and good treats. Everything is arranged in little grouped together gifts, for towards the end of the day we'll give them away as gifts to relatives. I came out with a beautiful apron, a lilac coffee mug, and tons of treats!

This is my host aunt. The best part about this holiday for me is to get to meet all of my host family's relatives, sit at a masa and eat and drink all day in the sun!

I love how colorful everything is. It is such a beautiful tradition.

Posing with the family.

What is in the mysterious baskets?? See for yourselves...the red eggs are great, you get to knock it open with another person and make wishes for well being and lots of happiness. Also, rub it against your cheeks for all kinds of great wishes to come true.

This is my host grandpa's grave.

This one is my favorite picture. On the table are the beautiful knotted bread, made especially for Easter, all offered to Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Easter Madness

I had the best 4 days of Easter holiday ever. The madness started on Friday after a medical midterm exam in Chisinau, where though I enjoyed a hot shower, some time chatting with other volunteers in the lounge, it was the worst traveling day ever. Everyone was in a hurry to go to the villages to visit their loved ones for Easter. I ended up waiting for a full 2 hours to get on a bus home and I also had to pay an extra 10 lei since the buses were taking advantage of the high traffic volume.

Saturday my host sister and brother came to visit and we pretty much spent all day cooking, cleaning and preparing for our big Masa. Sunday morning I ditched out on going to church at 4 am to get our food blessed, simply because it's 4 am. Though when I woke up I washed my face with holy water with money and two red eggs emerged in it. I then rubbed two eggs against my cheeks and made a wish. Then it was on for a day of eating. We went over to relatives' houses and sat and drink and ate all day long.

On Monday, we went over to my Mayor's house for a masa. I was taken away by how pretty the table was with the over flowing amount of food and drinks.

Throughout the whole 4 hours of sitting and eating and talking, I noticed something different about the dynamic of the conversation. No matter how many times my Mayor kept on saying, "Let's not talk about politics," the conversation kept on going back to it. It was very interesting to hear everyone's side of the story.

After the big meal, we ventured outside to capture the beautiful spring weather.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Zuia Ecologiei

We had a cleaning day in Gura Galbenei. Everyone at the school came out and picked up trash.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Ziarului Școlar

Here Presents an article about Me and Peace Corps in the school newspaper that I wrote (I got some proofreading help!). In the article I talked about what I came to do in Moldova, what are my roles in the village and a little background about me. Enjoy!

A New Beginning

The elections are over and my Mayor is back to work!! Last week I walked into his office to catch up. I tried to reach some leveling grounds, as to who is actually on board on this road project, when will we meet next, how we will approach this time around? I gave him two more potential donors, emphasizing that they are community orientated and we should have a general town meeting, or at least get a survey of some sort to reflect that this is what the community wants, and that they are committed to helping in this project.

After 20 minutes of drinking tea and discussing, I came out of the meeting with some tentative answers, such as: "We'll meet sometime next week, we'll go into Chisinau sometime next week to talk to one of the donors, we'll do it."

So here is to a new beginning, I'm excited to be on the wagon again.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Taking Inventory

After my big attempt to clean up our road, I got inspired to take inventory of the live animals I have around me.

Say Hello to our dogs. They are always alert and protective of the house.They still barks at me when I come home, I am taking it as they are saying hello. Maybe another year, they'll get used to me. Sometimes I wish I can let them run free, but here their function is to alert us of on comers. Still, I have a secret wish to take them out for a walk or a good run. That would be wonderful!

The baby bunnies...We have 16!

The baby chicks...25 or so of them.

The buzzing busy bees now excited it's spring, collecting pollen.

I do have to say, that once the sun is at a more constant shinning rate, I am a lot happier and more appreciative of the new life forms developing all around me.

Spring Cleaning

After work yesterday, I came home feeling all coped up from being inside in the office and wanted to do something outside, to be in the great sun. I decided while walking home that I will put on some gloves and hit the streets to pick up trash. I've been wanting to do so in a very long time. Compared to other villages I've been to in Moldova, I think Gura Galbenei is relatively clean, however there are still a lot of trash everywhere! I've talked with a lot of people about organizing a local clean up day, and everyone says there is already a day dedicated for that, but no one has ever given me a concrete answer as to when or how it's organized.

Well, after work I walked outside with my gloves ready. My host dad asked me where I was going, looking at me strangely. I told him, "I'm going to go pick up trash." At this, he blurted out laughing. He said that I can't do that. People would think I'm insane, even made a joke about a local lady who normally walks around talking to her nonexistence phone, is normally the one who picks up the trash. I got caught off guard. Really? Is it such an abnormal thing for someone to pick up trash? Why and how did that stereotype get placed? Now I know why the trash stays put, because no one wants to take on the responsibility to do anything about it. I held my ground, I told him, it's not such a crazy idea, I'm just going to be on our road, and besides I'm doing an ecological good deed. Finally he gave way, though he insisted that I restrain to just around our house.

This is such a WEIRD concept to me. Is it because I'm a lady and ladies do not steep themselves to that level of picking trash? Then how could they have ecological day where supposedly everyone goes out to clean the village, like everyone has told me? What is going on?

Towards the end of the evening I'd picked up a big bag full of trash and while doing so, several things happened: Several children passed by and contributed trash to my bag, one even kicked the trash all the way up the road to add it to my bag, and an old lady stopped to asked me what I was doing, once I told her, she came over to literally kiss me on the cheek!! OK, now I really don't know what is going on here?

My question then, why is it such a weird idea for me to go pick up trash when the people I encountered are very accepting of it? Is it one of those secretive deed that everyone have to pretend they have this prejudice towards, but wishes it gets done?

Wait, I think I might have an answer to that. When I was done and came back with my imploded bag, my host dad asked me, "So now what are you going to do with it?" I said I don't know, I was going to ask you the same thing. He then laughed again. He finally said that he will burn it.

In conclusion, I think the problem is not in the fact that it's a strange concept of picking up trash, but they really don't have anywhere to put it, besides burning, and that includes everything, plastic, styrofoam...things that are really bad for the environment to burn. There is another choice, it is to take it to the village dump, which is literally located on the other end of the village. No one without a car, or even with a car will go all the way to other end having to trudge through the lame roads. It's literally a hassle.

Here is how bad the trash pile up can get.

Here is my host dad burning my collected trash.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Testing, Hello Testing

I really feel like everything that is happening today is a test call for me to see how much endurance I can take. I am very touchy today, the sounds of people, me, myself, everything is really getting to me. I need a vacation from myself. I don't know what it is.

I am disconnected...not that person I wanted to be.
I am useless...not being used.
I am done...done with the same things over and over again.
I should be better at taking criticisms.
I need to have more trust in my own abilities to not let that kind of stuff get to me.
I need to not care about what other thinks, then I care that I don't care. Can I get away from that?
I need to hold others at the same level of expectations, and then know that it's not my fault.
Or maybe I need not have any expectations at all...maybe that is the answer.
Maybe I need not compare myself, my own situations with others.
Maybe I need to trust.
Somehow, I need to get over this ugly nasty funk, that I am in.
Who needs confirmation? It is not I...Or is it? done with it already. For the love of all things beautiful.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Starkling Contrast

I woke up this morning happy to see "Seattle" weather upon Gura Galbenei. It was pouring down rain with tons of wondrous clouds!! I loved it. A couple of months ago, this type of weather would have made me sad all day! It somehow doesn't have the same effect on me, anymore. I feel at home today! Yes!

Elections will be held this Sunday. I was invited to go to the Casa de Cultural to see how the voting process works, I had to decline, due to the fact that I am not suppose to be seen around any election activities. I am, however, in anticipation, who knows what kind of activities the result could contour up. I hope for a peaceful process and however, takes the lead, that they will help bring Moldova into a new era of development.

My host parents are still in the debate as to who they will vote for. It is a complicated process they have here, part of it is because they don't know who will be president. Right now they are only voting for the political party (28) that are running, and then based on the votes this April 5th, the results will decide how many candidates get to go into parliament and then the parties who will have the most votes, or jointed votes from other parties who do not have enough votes get to elect one person to be the President.

We will see how it turns out. It is already Tuesday, I can't believe how days are going by so fast. Yesterday I went over to Olga's and Liliana's house and we did Taebo together. It was a lot of fun. Here is to another day!

Friday, March 27, 2009


I am stuck, in my daily routines, nothing is no longer changing. I think it's hilarious how "out of it" I feel, then I remember how I complained so much before about how "tuned in" I was. About how much I think, how much I have to concentrate with the language, the surroundings, the constant changing of my emotions.

Well, now I am stuck in Limbo. I am neither there or here. I feel a bit numb, maybe that is how one should be feeling about this time into service, you know how you actually feel settled and nothing really surprises you anymore. The most bizarre things or rather behavior, that once I got caught off guard with, such as, finding a chicken heart in my soup, having people drink directly from the jar of pickles that the whole table shares, the peeing in the hole in the outhouse, the strange stares or questions that comes my way. Those things, effected me, in so many ways, good or bad, they effected me before.

Now, it's a rather different feeling, actually it's not a feeling at all, it's life. It's just how it IS. I go by with my day without thinking twice about it, but somehow, I miss those days when I have something going on, some connection to something. The numbness is getting to me. The question then arises, "Am I bored? Bored of the regularities?" Maybe, but that doesn't that mean it's bad? I am stable. I am not "up and down", the "walking and talking or non-talking bipolar dilemma case" anymore. I haven't cried myself to sleep in awhile. I have a routine that I've grown used to. I am living and not just analyzing. I'll take what I can get, right?

Monday, March 23, 2009

A Nice Visit

David and Jamie came to visit me in my village yesterday. I had the opportunity to see my village through their eyes, as they took pictures after pictures of it. I guess being here day to day for over a year, takes the magic that I once used to have for my home away, that I once used to have.

After visiting with them and sharing some cognac shots and some mixed with coffee (an experiment), we reminisced about old times, such as, what kind of furniture we sold before leaving home, experiences, and funny stories from the last year, and new plans for during the rest of our time in Moldova and after. I am glad they made an impromptu visit, I surely needed it!

A Gentle Reminder

Yesterday I received an email sent to me from Cross-Cultural Solutions, an International volunteer program I'd looked up before joining Peace Corps. In reading their thesis of persuasion in asking people to join their program, it made me realize somethings about already being abroad and doing particularly the exact job they are talking about. To be honest, I do get immerse in my own day to day routines and frustrations, and from not being able to see results (what ever those might be) immediately, I get discouraged about my presence in Moldova.

I know a lot of volunteers feel this from time to time, that we are not needed here, projects are hard to come by, host country nationals are not as eager as you thought they would be in working with you, or even the fact that you up rooted your life, to do nothing for 2 years (or you think it's nothing), but the truth to the matter is:

We MATTER! We are NEEDED! We are making a DIFFERENCE, no matter how small those little changes are, we are doing SOMETHING.

Below is an excerpt from the email:

"The world is facing challenging times and our leaders are asking for your help—calling for us to take action. There is a growing need for mutual understanding between people of all nations to bridge the gap between cultures, take control of our collective destiny, and gain a sense of our shared humanity and purpose. And today, understanding the perspectives of people overseas is a critical first step.

As we enter this "new era of responsibility," it's an exciting time to get involved and make a difference. International volunteers are ambassadors of change who represent hope, goodwill, and a commitment to valuing cultures different from their own. International volunteers reflect a new type of leadership—global citizenship. You can join this movement. You're needed now, more than ever."

Thank you, Cross-Cultural Solutions for this reminder to millions of volunteers that WE already ARE the "AMBASSADORS OF CHANGE".

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Youth Seminar = Success!!!

There were some misunderstandings, but that all comes with the job! Around 20, 9th-12th graders showed up. The Seminar was on leadership, they had a discussion group about what it means to be a leader and then they went through some activities. At the beginning some students left, by the end around 14 remained.

By the end, they were so interested in the NGO, activities for teenagers and wanted further information. In my eyes it was a success! I was the middle person, the resource! I believe that is one of my role in being here.

I am tired and oh guess what, I also taught a class of English for Olga with the 2nd graders today. She came to me last minute, that she has to go to the doctors and if I can teach the class. I was caught off guard, I'm am not all all qualified to teach! But what was I suppose to say...well I guess I can say a lot of things. Instead, I asked her what does she want me to teach, she said, they are learning how to sing the ABCs. I was like, well that's not too hard...I can do that! So I sang the ABCs with the 2nd graders for 45 minutes today! I also broke it up and had them write the ABCs on the board, I think it was a major big deal, cause they don't get to write ever on the board, I didn't know that until they made a big fuss about it once I asked them to.

What is even more interesting is that the ABC song they have in their text book is completely different than the one we learn in school. So I taught them the one I know...Oh, another weird observation, I took a look in their books and under each alphabet there is a word for the letter, such as, A for apples. Guess what they have for X....Xmas!! Serious! I busted out laughing and the children all looked at me with weird stares. I let it go and told them that X can be for X-ray.

Well, I have one more hour of work, which is code for existing in my chair for another hour. I am satisfied with today. I am, really am!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Youth Seminar

It is scheduled for tomorrow. I talked to the Assistant Director today and she hasn't even announced it to the students yet, and even asked if the NGO I invited to come present tomorrow are even coming!! I don't have a great feeling about this, I would totally be embarrassed if they show up and no students come.

The presenters are coming all the way from Chisinau (and hour and a half away) by bus, and even on a weekday, because my Director said the students won't show up on a weekend. They are committing, and here I am not at all sure if this will happen. I am literally worried, I guess this is what happens when things are not in my full control. I am learning to let it go and trust that it will all fall into place!

Please all cross fingers for me and let it fall into place!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

My schedule

I get a lot of questions on what I do on a daily basis as a Community and Organizational Development (COD) Peace Corps volunteer in Moldova. To give you a clear cut example of what I do on a daily basis, here it is:

7:30 AM
My eyes open as I curse myself back to sleep

8:00 AM
Alarm goes off, I push snooze

8:30 AM
I threaten myself to get out of bed, wash up and get dress

8:45 AM
Find my cup of coffee my host mom made for me every morning, and enter the casa mica to have breakfast, in which my host dad prepared for me (I know I'm spoiled)

9:00 AM
I go into work (5 mins walk): at work I get online if there is internet, make copies when people come in for them, work on my grant list, or answer emails. Prepare for Romanian lessons, if I was given homework.

11:00 AM
Everyday except for Thursday, I go to the school (10 mins walk) for my Romanian lessons

12:00 PM
I go home for my lunch break and sit in the sun if it's out, read or watch EuroNews or CNN on our satelite dish, if I don't get internet access at work, I connect at home at this time via our phone line if no one needs to use the phone and tolerate dial up frustrations.

1:00 PM
Monday-English Club with the 12 graders & Wednesday-English tutoring with a 6th grader

2:00 -5:00 PM
I go back to Primaria (Mayor's office) and do more internet serfing if there is internet, if there isn't, I work on translating the info in which I gathered for my grant list into Romanian. I read info, in which I downloaded off line, usually about NGO in Moldova, what type of activities they have going on. I prepare for English clubs and make more lists of things I would want to do. During this time more xeroxing takes place and sometimes people ask me to type up documents for them.

3:00 PM
We used to have this time scheduled every Wednesdays to discuss the Road Repairing project-however, we haven't done so in awhile

4:00 PM
Monday and Friday-visit the Art club and spend time with the children

5:00 PM
Tuesday and Thursday-Computer lessons for people at my Primaria at the school's computer lab

Monday and Wednesday-Taebo and Yoga, or if it's nice out I take a walk around my village and sometimes get invited in for tea at people's houses. Or If I don't feel like exercising, I go over and visit Olga and Liliana.

6:00 PM
Freetime: usually spent writing or listening to music or watching something, or painting

7:00 PM
Dinner with my host family

8:00 PM
Free time until 11 or 12 when I go to bed, which lately I've been spending either reading the Twilight series or watching Battlestar Galactica (I'm on the 4th season btw)!

That is my day in a nut shell, basically I go back and forth from the school and the Primaria. What I do love about my schedule is it's up to me, unlike other volunteers in English or Health teaching programs. This was definitely something hard to get used to, before when I didn't know where I should be spending my time when I first got into site. Now that I've developed a rountine for mysef I've grown to love this flexibility.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

"Weekend Cu Coada"

Having finally made a full calendar run around here in Moldova, there is one thing that I can not help but take note of the fact that Moldovans have a very long list of celebrations. I am not kidding, there seem to be something or other just around the corner and without a doubt an opportunity to gather and party.

This is including all Saints day, which we all know, well now I know, there are around 1000 saints or something. I also inherited a saints day, since I am known as Irina (pronounced Erena in English), whenever that day comes around I would be counted upon to throw a party (masă) for my friends. Then do it again on my birthday.

Moldovans celebrate International Women's Day (though not that international, because the States do not celebrate it) and International Children's Day (again we don't). They also celebrate thier Independence Day, Language Day (where Romanian was made the offical country language), Men's Day (or rather Soviet Union Vetern's Day), not to mention Christmas (according to the new and old calendar), and New Years (same thing, according to the old and new calendar).

Then there's the big celebration, which is creeping up soon. Easter! On Easter Eve, Moldovans go to church until 4 am to get their food blessed, then again the next day for Easter Day service. Then there is Easter of the Dead following two weeks later in April, where they all gather at the cemetry and get blessing for family members.

I feel like with all the birthday parties along with all the other celebrations, I spend so much time at a Masă. when my work put on a masă for the females in the office for Women's Day on March 8, I was literally sitting at the table eating and drinking for 5 hours straight!! You have to understand, that is a lot of interrupted Romanian, my friend!

Okay, with that said, I've been rubbing off on my host parents with English words and sayings. They know perfectly well what "OKAY" means, I didn't realize that I say that word as much it is brought to my attention here. They also know words, such as, "training" and lastly, "weekend". I laughed so hard when my host dad started to say it. So there is a saying that he loves to say when it comes to how much Moldovans celebrate. He calls it "Weekend cu coada", which means "weekend with a tail" From now on when I try to explain to them that I have to go into Chișinău for the weekend, he'll undoubtedly say his saying and crack himself up. I love it.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

My M22 Award!

When we had our 1 year Anniversary dinner in Chișinău, everyone were granted a memorable award in being a righteous member of M22 Peace Corps Moldova. This was my award.


Reporting from my room, drinking tea with honey, munching on sunflower seeds and watching a Russian music concourse, feeling content about my Moldovan life.

You wanna know something great? In my room I have my own TV where the satellite is hooked up to, but I have to watch whatever my host family have it tuned to on their big TV in their room. So here I am watching Russian TV, the channel and volume changes on it's own. It's so awesome! I don't have to find my remote when the annoying ads come on.

I think even amongst all the abnormally different environment I find myself in these days, I finally see how normal I feel within it all. If it's as little as trusting that my email will get a response from a loved one and knowing that I will undoubtedly get a text in response or as big as finally getting to successfully complete a work related goal, there is no longer a hectic feeling of being outside of my skin.

I've established a routine, there is no longer that feeling of boredom, I have given myself a list of options whenever those thoughts come along. It goes something like this:

If Eden is bored here is what she can do?
1. Taebo or Yoga
3.Read a book
4.Listen to music and write in her "Free It" notepad
5.Watch a movie or shows
6.Talk to host parents
7.If it's nice out: Take a walk even if it's to the store to buy fruit
8.Visit Olga and Liliana
9.Text loved ones from home
10. Visit Gigi

It's hilarious how OK I am with the pace of life here. It's okay if what I get accomplished in a day is to have Internet function correctly at work to be able to send an email to plan a youth seminar for the High School children. This task, the me, a year ago would never ever think of as a big accomplishment for the day, but here, you have to understand what a miracle it is just to have the Internet function and have communications be in accord with different people. That, today was my biggest accomplishment! I've come to terms with it. I believe that is the explanation, the reason, the very foundation of why I feel so normal. Comfortable. Situated.

Another thing I've also come to terms with is the fact that right now, my work can't exactly proceed, if I don't want to venture into the dark pools of Moldovan politics. Having my mayor running for office and having a village that is divided among different parties, I finally understand why certain people aren't exactly jumping on the wagon to have projects running. Those who are not supportive of my Mayor's particular party do not want any major improvements brought upon under my Mayor's term as Mayor and as a candidate for Parliament. This would be something that would help out his candidacy. That would be the reason why he's not at the office, and also why I have nothing going on. I understand that, and I have come to terms with it. I just wish that Peace Corps would have warned me about this, I would have perhaps been a little bit more settled with this circumstance earlier.

Tomorrow, I have another English Club meeting with the 12th graders. I am going to have them divide into groups, give them a list of vocabulary, and have them pick out two strange items I've found around my house and come up with a skit involving the list of vocabulary and items. It'll be fun! I hope they'll think so too. Before this, we were mostly in a circle with mainly me speaking in English, answering their questions and then harassing them with questions. I think this way, everyone will have more fun and get to contribute their creativity into learning English.

After a year, I can finally say that I absolutely and completely feel safe in my own skin in Moldova. I do not live inside of my head, constantly beggaring myself with "Why am I here?" questions. I've settled. Situated. Simply living with what I have.

My Music Mania

1. Put your music player on shuffle.
2. Press the next button to answer the questions.

Gong Endir - Sigor Ros

Miniature Diasters - KT Tunstall

Pizza Pie - System of a Down

Life in Technicolor - Cold Play

Color of Dreams - Axiom of Choice

All You Need Is Love - Beatles

Chronometrophobia - Andre 3000

Where Are You? - Zap Mama

Aqualung - Jethro Tull

WHAT IS 2 + 2?
Ways and Means - Snow Patrol

Mad at Jesus - Trwst

Coma - Aesop Rock

Stop Complaining (Remix) - Lyrics Born

Punky Reggae Party (w/Scratch) - Bob Marley

Drum Machine at Cam's - Tyler Brownfield

Ain't So Lonely - Lucero

Freedom of Speech - Immortal Technique

Black Wreath - Paper Bullets

Highing Fly - Digable Planets

Jacob Song- Mugicians

Stuck In Between - Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley

I'm No Heroine - Ani Defranco

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Technology Mishap of my life

The story goes somthing like this: On Sunday I came home to find my AC adapter for my computer wouldn't charge up. I freaked out, but after an hour of messing around, including stomping on the chord to get it to hook better together, I finally got it to work and thus was successful at using skype. At the moment that was my number one concern, to be able to call home. It worked and boy was I revived, then come Monday night, the same horrid no blinking light indicating a no charging computer. This time I took it easy, I got it running before, there is no reason for it not to work this time, right. Well, it charged up again after an hour or two of stomping, unplugging, replugging, recovering my comp and near tears praying to the mighty god to help me. Then come Tuesday night, nothing. No more light, no more comptuer usuage and a very sad me.

I really hate to say how dependent I've gotten with my laptop. Everything of my past, present and future is in that silly thing. The one thing I would recommend future voluneers to bring along in that suit case is thier laptop. I literally don't know what to do when I go into the office without it. I don't have a way to connect online and talk to my loved ones. I have nothing going on. It is rather pathetic!

So I went one day without it, went into the office, cleaned my work area, threw out old papers then sat there with nothing to do. I ventured downstairs and luckily, my mayor's wife had the door to the NGO that donates clothes to people in my village open. I walked in saying hello and saw that they just recieved several big bags of donated clothes from America. I asked her if she needed help to sort through the stuff. She was more than welcome in letting me help her.

For the next 5 hours I sorted through clothes as people came and picked out stuff. One thing that seemed rather interesting was how the mayor's wife was giving out voting advertisment (My mayor is running for parliament)and keep on saying to people that Veronin do not want them to bring in more clothes, so they need to vote for my Mayor's party if they want more clothes to come in. I'm not sure if this is at all correct, but from what I know, the NGO does not have any affiliation with Veronin. The donations are given from a Christian Church out of Philaphedia via an NGO ran out of Chisinau. However, like I said, I am not all at certain, but thought it was interesting.

Well, so I guess I ended up finding work after all, and I rather liked it, a different experience than sitting in the office with my laptop.

However, the idea of no computer tugs at my heart so lets just cross some fingers that I am able to get my computer up and running again. It is for the goodness of my soul and happiness for the rest of my time here.


Sunday, March 1, 2009

Month of Marțișor - Spring is here!

It is Spring!! It might not feel like it as this morning there were frozen dew on the ground. The sun is out and it is March! In Moldova, the 1st of March is very significant, it represents anticipation of the beginning of a great harvest. Everyone buys Marțisor and give them to loved ones wishing health and well being.

Below is a history of the meaning behind Marțisor:

"Long, long ago the sun would descend into villages as a handsome brave young man so he could dance at wedding parties and holidays. One day a dragon ambushed and jailed
him. The whole world grieved. The birds forgot their songs, the murmur of spring ceased, and the singing of young girls and laughter of children turned into deep
sorrow. No one dared fight the terrible dragon. However, there was one man brave enough to attempt to set the sun free from the dragon’s prison.

Everyone gave him their strength to help in this difficult task. He walked through summer, then through autumn, then the entire frosty winter, until he found the castle of the terrible dragon. A dreadful fight for his life began. They hit each other mercilessly, shedding blood and sweat in the crystal snow. Both the dragon and the man were very strong, both wounded across their chests, arms and shoulders. At last the brave man gained victory as the cruel dragon fell in death. The victorious man broke the walls of the prison and set the handsome sun free. The sun sprang into the sky. Nature began to revive, and people were glad, but the brave man did not last to see the spring. His warm blood dropped on the snow that began to thaw in the flowers that were growing.

The snowdrops gently rocked their petals, heralding the beginning of spring. The last drop of strength and blood fell from the young man’s arm on the first of March, and he closed his eyes and stopped breathing. Since then, in his memory, all the girls knit two tassels, a white one and red one, as a sign that spring is
beginning. The girls present this token to boys of whom they are fond. The token is named Mărţişor, which is the diminutive form of Martie, the first month of spring. The red color stands for love of everything that is beautiful and is the color of the brave man’s blood. The white color symbolizes happiness, health and purity
like a gentle and fragile snowdrop, the first flower in spring.

People give each other the Mărţişor on March 1 as a symbol of new life and love. Everybody wears it for the first week of March, though it is not uncommon for it to be worn the entire month. At the end of March the Mărţişor is put on a tree. They say that this will bring a good year and good crops. Celebration of Spring (Mărţişor) – March 1. During the first week of March, many concerts, musicals and entertainment take place to celebrate spring. As a token of love, friendship and greeting, people give and wear small red and white lapel flowers, mostly a handmade decoration, to signify the legend of Mărţişor."

On the streets of Chișinău people were lined up to sell these flower pins. Among many things I did while in Chișinău this past weekend was buy several of these Marțișor to give away.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

M22 Sworn IN

I present you a list of all things that I still miss

Even after a full year there are still somethings that I miss:

1. Hugs and kisses from my loved ones
2. Hot steaming showers at whatever hour and not have to wait for showering night
3. My charcoal pencil to depict my imagination
4. Fresh fruit when I crave it
5. The ability to take off with my car to any destination I want to end up
6. The ability to pick up the phone and be able to speak to loved ones without having to calculate the hour difference
7. Than Brothers' Pho, Thai, Vietnamese and Indian food
8. Going to the movies and seeing all the new releases
9. Times when I always know what is going on and what is being said
10. Situations where I do not have to wait for others to help me complete my goals

One year down

February 28 will be my one year mark here in Moldova!!! Just got me thinking that on 24th of Feb last year was when we (M22) met up in Philly for training. When we embarked on our journey. It gives me all kinds of mixed emotions. Ones that take you by surprise. For some odd reason the night of 24th in fond memory of leaving home, I sat and had my long crying session, like it was an anniversary of saying goodbye to my loved ones.

On the split side, I am so happy to have made it this far. All things aside, whether or not I have work, or how many projects I have going, I have evolved so much from the 24th of February, 2008.

To celebrate our one year anniversary some people are meeting up this weekend. I can't wait to see everyone again, especially those that live very far from the capital and never really get a chance to come into town. I feel so connected to my group, we've been together thus far...I am proud!