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.