The big day finally arrived last week. Site placements were announced for all 68 trainees in our group. It was at the end of a long day of presentations on our weekly HUB day in the capital city, Chișinău. A lot of current volunteers came for the announcements, so it really felt like a big celebration.
So, we have been placed in… NISPORENI! (Nisporeni on Wikipedia). Neither of us had heard of it before, but our initial reaction was good, as it is near the Romanian border. It is in the central part of the country, about and hour and a half west of Chișinău. We were told that the area is very nice and that there are forests in the area for hiking as well as rolling hills… All good news for us.
For two days after site announcements, Allison had conferences with the other Health Education volunteers, the directors of all our schools, as well as with the program manager. Once the conference was over we both left with Allison’s director to travel to Nisporeni.
The ride was hot, as is typical for bus rides in Moldova. Many countries in Eastern Europe, have a cultural fear of the “current”, which is basically a breeze within a confined space (a house, a bus, a classroom, etc.). The current can be blamed for a variety of sickness, including back pain… The current was even blamed when the kittens at Allison’s house had goopy eyes. This means that in crowded buses on hot days, it can be unbearable, as there is zero breeze.
Once we arrived in Nisporeni, we met one of Brian’s future work partners and then we got a mini tour of Allison’s school. There is construction going on in the part of school where she will be teaching, so we didn’t see that. We just saw the entrance, the gym, and the director’s office. Allison will be working with two different teachers, teaching across four different grades (5th through 8th).
Then we all headed to the business incubator where Brian will be working. The incubator is in a new and modern building. New businesses are able to rent office space in the incubator for three years at a low rate. Brian and his partners will be working with the businesses to advise them as they get started/established. The best part of the incubator for Brian was the ping pong table in the building 🙂
After our tour of the incubator, we were taken to a possible host family, which consists of a mom and her two sons (aged 22 and 15). They are nice family that lives on the outskirts of town, about a 15 minute walk to the town center. Their home is nice, and somewhat modern. Although they are a nice family, there was not much room/privacy in the house and we are hoping to find a different host family situation in Nisporeni (Peace Corps requires volunteers in Moldova to stay with a host family for the first three months at their sites). We’d like to find a host family that we can stay with for the full two years, as it will be beneficial for integration in the town, our Romanian language acquisition as well as fun.
On our one full day in Nisporeni, we went to the big outdoor market. It was a Sunday, which is the biggest day. There were hundreds, if not a thousand, people out for the market that day and several dozen stands selling a variety of fruits, vegetables, clothes, shoes, cheese, household stuff, animals, plants, honey, and
even bike repair stuff. There will be a lot available to us in Nisporeni at that market. After the market, we went to the monastery that is close to Nisporeni. It is the oldest monastery in the country. We got to go inside and look around and all of the space on the ceilings and walls covered with colorful artwork.
We went home, had lunch, took a long nap, and then went into the town center and met with Brian’s partner, the director of the business incubator and a Juliana, who is a current volunteer in town and will be finishing up her Peace Corps service later this month.
Allison headed back to her training village the next morning. Brian spent the day with his partners at the business incubator, where he was able to sit in on a consulting session with a couple guys who have a computer business in the incubator. Later, Brian went out for lunch with the business incubator director, played ping pong with the director and others at the incubator, and tried to track down another possible host family.
The next morning Brian headed back to Chisinau with his counterpart from the business incubator and had some training sessions with the other Small Enterprise Development trainees and their partners.