After being here just one week, I have way too much to say about the small country of Moldova. First off, let me say this: if you want to meet incredibly talented and kind people of all backgrounds… join the Peace Corps (or in Romanian, Corpul Pacii).
In our first week we have endured meetings out the “wazoo”, including but not limited to safety briefings, food and water preparation, what to do if (and when) you get sick, etc. The days are long, the lectures are longer, but there is no shortage of interesting moments. We have been toted around the country and loaded up on even more stuff to have to travel with. I showed up to my host family’s house with two suitcases, a backpack, and a newly acquired ram sack chock full of medical kits, fire extinguishers, forms, and devices of all sorts. I could rant about the amount of procedural things we have sat through and received, but I’ll just move on instead. My host family is wonderful. I am located in the relatively large village of Millicesti Mici (pronounced Mill-esh-tay Meech) and it could not be more beautiful. The roads are either completely dirt or cracked pavement and I must walk 20 minutes to and from my house everyday to get to school but its every bit of the Moldovan utopia I expected. My host mom, Elena (52) and Tudor (53) feed me constantly and speak to me despite the completely obvious language barrier. Their grandson is an eccentric 11-year-old named Valentine who I have come to adore. While his Mom is living and working in Italy (very common for Moldovan children), he lives here with his grandparents and constantly is out on the prowl. Thankfully, he is studying English in school and has become my main man at the dinner table while his Bunica (grandmother) is yelling at me to eat more in Romanian. There is more hand motions and body language than a silent comedy show but there’s no doubt that I am living with an incredibly kind and hospitable family – no words are needed to see that.
At first, I loathed my 20-minute hike down a mountain, through the woods, over a rusted suspension bridge, and up another mountain but now I have come to love it. On my trek to reach school, I can never know what to expect. I have passed stray cows, countless dogs and cats, a few goats, and a mass amount of shirtless people tending to their gardens and prized houses. Myself, and the 7 other health education volunteers located in Millicesti Mici, “enjoy” language lessons and technical training from 8:30 am – 5 pm Monday through Saturday but have already began to rely on each other for our sanity. While learning a new language and a new culture is incredibly challenging and presents more obstacles than I could have ever imagined, its pretty easy to see why people stay happy here. Despite the poor country, they live a completely sustainable lifestyle – Lunch and Dinner comes from the gardens (and the pets in the backyard), and they make every last effort to conserve every drip of water and bit of energy. This lifestyle is going to take some getting used to, for sure, but as I sit here typing my first blog post under an array of strung up grape leaves and homemade canopy’s, I can’t quite say that I am not happy with my new job.