Time is moving fairly fast. With packed days and brains full of new Romanian words, time is flying. This Wednesday, we even have our first oral language test to see how well (or not) we are learning Romanian.
In my Small Enterprise Development program, we have had some guest speakers and learned about programs that current volunteers have been engaged in. Some of the programs are quite surprising. One gal is working with a tourism organization, another is starting a resource center for fashion design, and another is working in a social enterprise where folks with disabilities (and would otherwise have difficulty finding a job) are trained and working in a catering business. Very diverse, and unexpected projects.
Language classes have been excellent. Our group of 7 in our part of town have classes with two wonderful women, Diana and Angela. Both are full of energy and good presenters. They are also quite experienced in working with Peace Corps trainees and are patient people. It appears that Peace Corps continues to attract great language trainers.
Health-wise, I have been struggling with a sinus infection. It was light when we arrived but has been exacerbated over the past couple weeks. I’ve been trying to rest and sleep as much as possible. Peace Corps medical here in Romanian has been attentive and helpful and I am taking some meds to help me through the infection.
One thing that is very different than our time during training in Tanzania is the frequency in which we are engaging with current volunteers. Most weeks, we have several presentations from current volunteers and we are able to socialize with them and learn about their living situations, partners in the field, their jobs, general outlook, etc. A highlight for me during my second week here was when 3 currently serving volunteers came over to my homestay’s house for dinner (2 of them stayed here during their training in 2013 and 2014, and the third also lived in this town during training). Hearing the current volunteers speak in Romanian very quickly, as well as fully engage conversationally was pretty awesome. I hope I can get to their level!
I continue to be quite impressed and inspired by the know-how and resourcefulness of my homestay parents. They grow so much of what we eat, and really put a lot of food away for the winter.
Allison and I have been able to visit each other 3 times now. Twice at Allison’s homestay in Stauceni, and once here in Costesti. The weekend she was here in Costesti, we were able to visit the fields outside of town where my host parents have their grape fields, and had a big dinner with 3 of my host mom’s sisters as well as fellow Peace Corps trainee Christian. Many of the different families which have a trainee staying with them are related. My host mom is the sister of Christian’s host mom.
Other news: I cut my beard. A couple of things led to this. Firstly, I must admit that I didn’t expect to cut it while being here….and PC didn’t ask me to cut it either. What I found here in Moldova is that having a big beard is very uncommon, but not uncommon in a cool way, rather in a weird, really strange, ‘what is wrong with that person kind of way.’
In Mexico or the US, I regularly received compliments or photo requests…here in Moldova, more weird looks, and I’d catch pieces of people gossiping about it. That’s fine. I can handle that.
However, when reflecting on our time in Tanzania, the hardest thing about being there was being the obvious outsider/foreigner all the time-just by being white. All of us who served there can relate to never ‘blending in’ and being a constant source of attention (commonly called ‘the fishbowl effect’). Here in Moldova, I can try to slip by as just another person without the beard…which is ultimately why I decided to liberate those coarse hairs from my chin. All-in-all, I am happy with the decision, and will probably start growing it back after a year. We’ll see.