I loathe Maxi Taxis (a.k.a. Ruiterez). This is the public transportation system of Moldova. They are oversized Mercedes Vans with 8-10 seats in each. There are no seatbelts, speed limits, or maximum occupants. Many times we pack on 45-50 people in each van and truck our way through villages and busy highways. The temperatures inside reach sauna levels and if you have enough room to lift your arm above the sweaty man pressed against you, you’re in luck. Just when you think the van has reached its limit, four more people appear at the next stop and somehow force their way into the crunched “bus”. It’s truly an unbelievable – although not enjoyable – sight. However, our 30-minute ride to the Hub Site in Chisinau costs us 7 lei, roughly 85 cents.
As we enter our third week of PST (Pre-Service Training), we have gotten to the grit of our technical job training. Our brilliant mentors and program managers are teaching us about child development, our “in the spot light” role in the school and village themselves, and the possibilities of teacher partners and secondary projects. While we may be focusing on conquering the language, the excitement of being the lone American in a village and bringing in fresh ideas to a whole new set of people is kicking in. Soon, the Health Education trainees will enter practice school in which we will have to instruct via our new lesson planning skills alongside a Moldovan partner that may or may not know any English or anything about a truly healthy lifestyle (or professionalism for that matter). Yet, it is our monumental job to work with this partner side-by-side to create a new curriculum for the school highlighting the most visible health issues. We will work to implement the program for our respective school over the next two years and hopefully educate enough students and staff to leave an efficient health education program behind for years to come.
The job may seem even tougher than we originally thought, however. It has come to our attention that Moldovans are so uneducated in this field that they believe things like the flu is caused by drinking cold water, vitamins can be obtained by means of homemade red wide, and that homosexuality is something that isn’t even a consideration in country. My mind is rustling with ideas. If there is one thing I have learned, though, it is that we are not coming in to change the country and impose our views on an un-expecting village but to work along side the civilians to learn from each other and to possibly introduce scientifically based ideals and theories – possibly that in fact body image isn’t just the reflection God intended to create but the sum of fatty foods, surplus amounts of alcohol, and zero intent or awareness of physical activity.
In the meantime, I fill my re-worn clothes with sweat and hike to and from my host family’s home where they are usually working in the gardens until they can pause to feed me more. I complete my language homework, read a little, work on my technical projects, then prepare myself for the next day: boil some water to prep it for filtering, help my tata gazda (host dad) take care of – for lack of a better word – the former pet that will be served the following day for dinner, and climb into bed because by that time the water has usually run dry which means no shower for me. While parts of this life in the early going seem radical, I can already see what a drastic change I have the ability to make and it is awe-inspiring. My month or so “off the grid” is certainly getting to me, as I am considering shaving my head and only relying on 3 pairs of outfits for the remainder of the summer.
Bare with me, as I must resort to writing these blog posts in word documents, saving them to a flash drive, and finally uploading them onto my website at whatever chance I get to enjoy internet, but I promise to keep updating as long as I can. Te iubesc Corpul Pacii.