Holy hell, I am in my 8th month as a Peace Corps Volunteer, as a citizen of the Republic of Moldova, as a crazy American living the strangest, most exigent life imaginable. Conclusion drawn, we are almost the veterans as PCMoldova staff has shifted their attention to the new group (M28’s) arrival in country. Gazing at a calendar is like playing a game of Russian roullette, some weeks are brutal hell and others, such as this past week resembled a form of delight. How do I perceive the timeframe? Should I scrutinize the detail that I have yet to fulfill one-third of my commitment, or do I rejoice over the “soon-to-be” completion of my first year as a teacher?
Let’s proceed on a weekly basis, shall we? I declared an American holiday, the Superbowl (and the proceeding day for that matter). Collectively, volunteers found a basement bar that we bargained for about 30 lei, or $2.45, would televise the big game. As we watched, yelped, and drank from the hours of 1:30 to 6 in the morning, we verbally auditioned the future of this holiday in Moldova. I returned to show my hungover, lethargic face at school Tuesday to start my week and find out that my partner will be absent for the 5 day stretch. This information was proceeded with the schedule change announcement. How wonderful. Thus is life in other parts of the world, no concrete routine to fall back on.
Seemingly with things only operational if to my disadvantage, you would expect a third consecutive debauched week. Nothing is as it seems. Nuh-uh, this was my world today. Henceforth, I will occupy a fresh persona. Let’s call it arrogant-optimist. Whether thanks is due to the Baltimore Ravens, the Jack Daniels factory, or just a bullish attitude, a gyration of my foxhole was impending. I held my ground and conducted 4 full and unaided health lectures. While proud, I realized why I was never bred to be an educator. When I said cheolți (kelotz = underwear) of course the 4th grade burst into laughter, a contagious effort that launched Domnul Brett into a red-faced gasping for air kind of laugh. When I caught students passing notes, and all i did was applaud them for their sneaky technique. I am too fresh off from the life as a student to be a discplinary figure in a classroom.
Still flabbergasted, I fulfilled my hours and even tackled another two feats: I was selected for a position I applied for within PC and I assembled my team to begin our grant. The position, „mentor coordinator”, will put me in command of the incoming group of volunteers’ communication with existing volunteers, as well as their transition into country. Will I treat them as freshmen boys entering my old fraternity or equal, justifiably nervous colleagues? With a hidden grin on my smug face, I have yet to decide that. The second, was no easy task. Getting a few Moldovan counterparts to sit around a table and not only discuss a project and its’ primary process but to understand the nourish and feasibility of its long-term existance was just a thing of beauty. Very grateful for the progressive and positive people in Lăpuşna.
I met with the mayor of my village, and convened with my newly amassed team. I sat down and thoroughly declared, in my broken and increasingly slang Romanian, I have some ideas. An owner of matching hearing aids could have heard the audible swallows and groans. Pouring on charm like liquid butter on movie theater popcorn, I spill one idea after the other. Here is this kid, never before a teacher, with his outside-the-box philosophy stammering in front of adults with 20+ years of experience from the branches of the Soviet era. The same kid who uses sponges to symbolize dehydration in his lessons and blindfold’s children during an „effective communication” demonstration. Yet, they listened, and we are progressing towards submitting this grant. As my actions begin to contest my level of aspiration, I note that every day is a learning process. Unlike in America, I cannot balance multiple projects at the same time. Due to the language barrier, the slower pace of life, and the deficiency of resources, we must take one thing at a time. This is how I was supposed to learn: practical application of knowledge with time for tons of self reflection and development.
I can honestly say that I admire 100% of my colleagues, a non-massaged statistic that hovers right above unbelievable in todays day and age. They all face this epic uphill struggle and surmount the blockage while finding humor in its absurdity. The tasks that have me ripping my hair out, they have done while being the coolest, world traveling people I have met to date. Good ‘ol Moldova, you love the mind games. Good ‘ol Moldova, may the mêlée go on.