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.