Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Season's Greetings

Can't think of a gift to give this holiday season? Donate to my local water and sanitation project! 

Peresecina Public Bathroom Project - Moldova

Peresecina Public Bathroom Project - MoldovaLocation
Peresecina, Orhei, Moldova
Community Description
The village of Peresecina is nestled between the municipality capital, Orhei, and the capital city of Moldova, Chisinau. The community is deemed by many citizens of Moldova as “the biggest village in Moldova,” boasting (on paper) approximately 8,000 inhabitants.
The reality is that many of the community members between the ages of 20 and 50 are living and working abroad in order to provide for their families in Moldova. The majority of inhabitants left in Peresecina work in either Chisinau or Orhei. Very few find work locally unless they are teachers or local government employees.
Peresecina Public Bathroom Project - MoldovaThe community’s main economy is agriculture, boasting a mushroom factory and agricultural cooperative which provides services and supplies to local farmers. The other major businesses consist primarily of small stores along the road which connects Orhei to Chisinau.
Aside from the main highway, the infrastructure consists of washed-out dirt roads and unreliable electricity. It is surprising however with all of these negative factors, the people of Peresecina are very happy, hospitable and open to new ideas.
There is a public office building, used as a building for several public and private organizations and businesses, occupied by 25 employees who service an average of 1,000 people per month. Activities include meetings for several clubs, community meetings, and seminars.
Peresecina Public Bathroom Project - MoldovaThe nearest bathroom facility, an existing outhouse located a 15-minute-walk away, is shared by an auto repair shop, and all of the offices in the building. It is located inside a locked fence and during the winter months this can be extremely challenging as it is up hill, through brush and mounds of unused sand, dirt and stone from the nearby construction site. There is also a large dog that guards the area and if someone is not there to chain the dog and unlock the fence the bathroom cannot be used.
Project Description
This project is to construct a community bathroom in a public building in Peresecina. The bathroom will be located in a building next to the mayor's office, attached to the post office and situated in the middle of town. The building houses the gas office, where all patrons must go to pay their bills, the public library, a second-hand clothing store, a hair salon, an agricultural extension organization/business information center, and an agricultural store.
Every Sunday the local outdoor market where farmers go to sell their harvests occur directly outside of this building. In the hallway outside of the agricultural organization's office there is a location where running water can be hooked up. There is a well with a generator outside the building to the west, and a link to the waste water collection/sewer system that the mayor's office is connected to.
This bathroom will essentially be connected to already existing fresh and waste water systems from within the hallway of a building. Three walls will be built around the bathroom to enclose it, with only enough room for a sink and a toilet.
Piping from the well into the building and from the toilet and sink out to the waste water collection tank (which is then dumped and taken to the waste water collection plant near the capital city of Moldova about 30 minutes away) will be purchased and installed.
Project funds will be used to purchase the sink, toilet, piping, wood and drywall for building walls, tiling for the floors and walls, toilet paper, hand soap, and a door.
A local carpenter and plumber will complete the project on a volunteer basis (as he is frequently in town and often having to relieve himself in the field).
Project Impact
The project will benefit the 25 people employed in the building, the 1,000 people per month who use the services, and possibly an equal number of people who visit the market.
Peace Corps Volunteer Directing Project
Emily Getty
This bathroom provides critical services for employees in the public building, along with people who visit the building for services, to attend the market, or patronize the stores in the center of town. It will greatly improve the sanitation and hygiene of the community, decreasing illness and providing comfort to the people.
Dollar Amount of Project
Donations Collected to Date
Donations of any amount will be appreciated. The full amount will give you "naming rights", if that is something you would like.
Any contributions in excess of the Dollar Amount of Project will be allocated to other projects directed by this PCV and/or projects of other PCVs in this country.
Dollar Amount Needed

To donate CLICK HERE

Monday, November 14, 2011


 Today was a bit of an oddity (which is a bit of a  redundant expression here in Moldova).  I spent this morning with a fellow Peace Corps Volunteer's girlfriend.  Her name is Irina and she has become a bit of a staple in our group of friends.  Jobless and with no prospects of meaningful work in the near future, Irina began looking for inspiration from her environment and she found it.
I met Irina yesterday to make some connections and plan for today.  Although she kept saying she needed my help... all she really needed was reassurance.  She had not only created a plan but also came up with the idea all by herself.
We met on Sunday at the Peace Corps Office, made some copies of a list of questions (mainly just for reference) and we set off to the "Unauthorized or Illegal Market" (often referred to as the Soviet Piata near the train station).  Her brother borrowed a video camera from a friend and the interviewing, explaining, sharing, storytelling began. 

Irina wanted to document the stories of the retirees or pensioners that sell their housewares daily at this market in order to just make ends meet.  The women we had spoken to the day before had their faces all done up, dressed in their finest winter ware they were ready to chat with us.  With her brother behind the lens, Irina took to asking questions like a professional.  Smiling, encouraging our old lady friends to share some of their most intimate opinions, fears and financial information with us.
Irina has this way about her.  She finds art and beauty in things that most people consider to be eye sores.  Standing there watching them (Irina and her brother) work together to document the stories of these poor people was truly amazing.
After we all parted ways at the end of a days worth of filming, I began to think about how all of us humans.  We are all consumers.  We facilitate and create the cycle that is capitalism.  We demand products, quality products and when we are done with these things where do they go?  The system is always making more products, more things for us to consume.  We are always buying new... but where does all the old stuff go?  At what point will our production reach saturation.  When we all are satisfied with the "stuff" we have accumulated? 
As I walked around that market, I kept thinking to myself that one person's trash is another person's treasure but at what point does that idiom stop being true?  Used goods and markets like these make me think of accumulating wealth and economies of scale (I know, I'm not as artistic as Irina) and I began to dream of a world where a complete redistribution of wealth, accumulated material items and everything occurs.  How would our socioeconomic lives be different if that occurred?  I am not talking about communism or socialism because in both of these cases the government "has more" whether it be power or control and the people "have less."  What I am talking about is a sort of utopia.

Anyway, I also started thinking about types of products.  How food is the one product that is consumed and can't be sold "second hand."  It is either eaten, stored for winter or breaks down into organic material and nourishes the crops for next year.  It seems that the only industry with a need for endless supply and efficiency is food and crop production.  Just some thoughts from a day with a friend.
I hope that my friend Irina keeps inspiring people to tell their stories.  She reminds me of Edie Sedgwick (minus the tragic story and drug problems), the way she looks at the world as such a gloriously fun place to be and seeks joy and beauty even in the saddest of situations.  I encourage all of you to watch the movie Factory Girl... if you haven't already.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Peresecina Public Bathroom Project

Hello Friends, Family, Colleagues: I am asking for your help to raise money for a project with Appropriate Projects Water Charity to build a public bathroom in my office building! You can donate here! http://appropriateprojects.com/node/894

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

From goats to heated blankets... boyfriends in Moldova.

Explaining to the vast majority of Moldova men, women and children that I am 25, without children and unwed can be a difficult task.
In this country and culture where one of the most treasured (and expensive) moments for a family is the marriage of their child, the buying (or more often building) of a house and arrival of grandchildren on the scene.  It is part of what keeps Moldovans happy.  Part of what they live for are the celebrations in their lives.  The fact that I willingly am rejecting celebrating those things in my life is extremely puzzling to them.  It's not as though I am against marriage... if you love someone and wish to consummate that love under religious law that is fine.  If you invite me I will even attend to help you celebrate the union between you and your new spouse.  My personal beliefs aside, in order for me to answer the constant questions regarding my ring-less finger or empty baby-bearing hips is to make it humorous. 

First my partner had baby goats born; two boys and two girls.  She let me name them all "American names" Billy Boy, Brownie, Daisy and Cinnamon... which was quite an honor as Moldovans typically name the animals based on the day of the week they were born.  Regardless, I started telling everyone in town that I had a boyfriend, his name was Billy, and he was goat.  For a while the questions subsided about my state as a single woman as did the suggestions for me to marry every older woman's single son "about my age."  I thought I was in the clear until we ate him for Easter.  Then I had to explain that my boyfried was deceased but was also delicious. 

My second and still current relationship is with "the road."  It's hard to explain that rather than settling down I want to travel the world.  See the Great Wall of China, cross the Bering Strait, eat sushi in Japan, dance with the tribes of Sub-Saharan Africa and go sailing in the Caribbean.  I must tell a lot of people about this boyfriend because even the Priest in my town knows about him.  He came to bless our house and when he was throwing the water all of my room and drawing the cross with oil on the wall he kept saying "This is for Emily and her road." Here is the deal, I haven't seen the whole world so how can I know where I would want to settle down?  I also don't think I've met the love of my life yet and so how could I even think of settling for anything less?  So my relationship with "the road" will probably be a marriage for life... which is fine but then came along this hot Turkish guy...

With winter coming my host mom and I set out to find a heated mattress pad for my bed.  She was convinced we had to buy a Russian-made one but all we could find at the market was Chinese or Turkish brands.  She decided I should buy the Turkish one.  The first night I turned it on she came to get me for dinner and I told her I didn't want to leave my new boyfriend.  As I was on my computer she said... "Oh can I see him are you skyping with him?"  My response?  "No of course not Zina... I'm sitting on him!!!  This heated Turkish mattress pad is my new boyfriend.  He's hot and sleeps with me all night."  She and I giggled and then we went to tell my host dad who roared with laughter. 

It is the little things that get you through living in a new culture.  When the redundancy of questions start to get to you just turn them into a joke or ask the same question to them.  It's important to share culture but it's also important to respect the cultural customs and beliefs of others. Sarcasm and humor are sometimes hard to communicate but when you do get through be ready to share a beautiful moment of laughter (the one universal communication medium for happiness).  I know that my ramblings are only from one perspective, I am sure that the married couples and single men or married persons who left their spouses at home are all asked different and interesting questions but this is just about me and how I have chosen to deal with culture clash in my village.  Now if you will excuse me there is a Turkish guy warming up in my bed...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A jog down memory lane...

So I've been seeing a lot of interesting things on my runs lately through the hills and valleys around my house.  The problem is I don't run with my camera and so the scenes that pass me by and visions that take my breath away, I can not capture for all of you.  Let me paint you a picture from yesterday's run.

I ran to the lake that is about 3Km away from my house and then ran around the lake to take in all the sights, smells and greet the fishermen hanging out on the shore... waiting for the days catch.  As I rounded the end of the lake and made it to the other side where the little villas are all stacked on top of each other (like a Moldovan gated community)... the geese run from my path, roosters perk there heads and crow at me, men stare and skip a puff of their cigarette - shocked by my spandex shorts and I smile and wave (stupid American).  Then I see this red car slowly making it's way down the road.  It stops abruptly and I wonder if its overflowing with teenage boys up to no good or an old man who missed the clutch.  Then as the car and I approach each other the abrupt halt is clear.  In the drivers seat is a young girl wearing bright shorts and a tank top with curly blond hair and blue eyes. With a look of worry in her eyes.  In the passenger seat is an older man with white hair, wrinkled and worn tan skin wearing a linen short sleeve dress shirt.  He is thin except for his large belly that juts out in front like a pregnant lady. I smile and wave.  And as they pass by me I stop and turn to watch the old man continue lecturing the young girl and helping her shift the lada into a lower gear.  Surround the dirt road are fields of sunflowers, corn and grass, willow trees, a lake in the distance and few country homes.  As I watch them slowly drive off into the distance the whole scene changes.  It's no longer an old Russian red lada but an orange Volkswagen beetle.  The young girl is me 15 years ago.  We aren't on a road but a path along the hedgerow in an alfalfa field that my dad has just cut with the mower.  The man to my right is my grandfather, Norman and he's not lecturing but rather watching me try to figure it all out myself.  He then gives me pointers when I look up at him with earnest blue eyes and my pin straight bobbed blond hair.  He's telling me how different is to drive a car than a tractor and how much more efficient a standard or stick shift car is than automatic. Once we reach the path in the woods we park and walk through the woods.  He points to a jack-in-the-pulpit and tells me these flowers are endangered and shows me the protective shield he made for the frosts. We then walk further into the woods where he has planted blue spruce and evergreen trees of every sort. He says one day we can use them for our Christmas tree. Then I snap out of my trip down memory lane.  Watch the red lada drive down towards the lake and I turn and continue my jog up and out of the valley back to my village.

I miss my grampa.  He was truly an altruistic man.  I just wish I could converse with him now.  About the world today... my life... my thoughts on various topics.  He continues to influence my decisions and ideas so in a way I guess he lives on through me. 

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Folkloric Competition Orhei: Bastina

This is the video of the local Folkloric group competition in the municipality center of Orhei.  This video is of the Folkloric Group, Bastina from my village and their performance at the competition.  The word Bastina (Bah-shtee-nah) means motherland or homeland.

Completing the Third Goal

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps to promote world peace and friendship.
The Peace Corps' mission has three simple goals:
  1. Helping the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women.
  2. Helping promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served.
  3. Helping promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans
As a Peace Corps volunteer one of our three goals is to bring our host country's culture back to the United States of America to share with our family and friends.  One way to do this is to present at a local high school while you are vacationing or visiting the USA.  Here is my presentation that I gave to a 9th grade AP History class in Hudson Falls, New York, USA.

Goat Herdin' 2 (USA version)

Same video as Goat Herdin' 1 with better background music.

After a weekend filled with gorging ourselves at Easter celebrations, Emily and I decided to take a walk around her village of Peresecina for some exercise. We eventually found ourselves walking along a path discussing very important matters, such as the name of the strange bugs that kept buzzing around our heads, when we stumbled upon a herd of goats and their very enthusiastic shepherd. The shepherd was in a very festive mood and happy to meet the two of us and our camera. It was a few hours before the goats needed to be taken home but the shepherd allowed us to help him bring in the herd of goats immediately. Our job was to walk behind the herd and say "nya" at the goats so that they would continue to walk. Along the way we picked up some more help from some of the village boys and girls who were very curious as to why we were helping with the goats. We arrived at the "pick up zone," where the villagers take their respective goats from the herd and lead them home. Although we were about an hour early and anticipating a goat stampede, we were surprised to find the villagers gathering their goats with minimal chaos. Once the goats were all safely on their way home and we promised the shepherd repeatedly to bring him the photographs of our hard work, it was time for us, the newest shepherds of Peresecina, to put to rest our amateur herding staffs, wash the goat manure from our feet and come to the realization that we are just not cut out for this line of work.

What my host family means to me...

Host families are a big part of our lives here in Peace Corps Moldova.  Fun fact: not every peace corps country utilizes host families and I think this is actually a huge positive part of being a volunteer here in Moldova.  My host family is more than a family.  My host family members are my friends, my link to the community, my sounding board, my support and everything in between.  Having a great host family can make your service in Peace Corps an amazing experience.  That add depth, laughter, and love to your time living in another country.

This slide show was made for the families that will be hosting the new volunteers that arrived in June. This was playing in the background while we talked about the importance of a host family as a key tool for community integration, cultural education, and friendship in a strange new country.

Team Xtreme in Rezina, Moldova!

While visiting my friend in Rezina, Moldova we were invited to attend a seminar/performance at one of the local high schools.  This was a REALLY great organization that works throughout the world to spread the positive messages of love, tolerance, patience and kindness through Xtreme sports.  It really had an impact on the young men in the audience that is for sure!!!  The man who organized the competition asked me to translate for them but instead we asked one of my friend's best students to translate to give her an amazing opportunity to show off her English and Romanian/Russian skills in front of all her friends.  Afterward she said it was "such a rush!"

Team Xtreme is part of Youth with a Mission.
Youth With A Mission (YWAM) is an international movement of Christians from many denominations dedicated to presenting Jesus personally to this generation, to mobilizing as many as possible to help in this task, and to the training and equipping of believers for their part in fulfilling the Great Commission.
As citizens of God’s kingdom, we are called to love, worship, and obey our Lord, to love and serve His Body, the Church, and to present the whole gospel for the whole person throughout the whole world.
We of Youth With A Mission believe that the Bible is God’s inspired and authoritative word, revealing that Jesus Christ is God’s son; that people are created in God’s image;
that He created us to have eternal life through Jesus Christ;
that although all people have sinned and come short of God’s glory, God has made salvation possible through the death on the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ;
that repentance, faith, love and obedience are fitting responses to God’s initiative of grace towards us;
that God desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth;
and that the Holy Spirit’s power is demonstrated in and through us for the accomplishment of Christ’s last commandment, “…Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation”


March 2011 Folkloric Competition Orhei "The Competition"

Watch my awesome new video on youtube about the Folkloric Music in Moldova!  Also, you should subscribe to my youtube channel: egetty05

Monday, April 11, 2011

Sniffle. Sniffle. Ahhhhchooo. Allergies got me again.

So as I sit here in the apartment in Chisinau that is the designated "sick bay" for Peace Corps Volunteers.  I am here because the change in seasons has brought on yet another nasal congestion, yellowy green mucous dripping from my nose into my throat (thank goodness for Claritin-D).  As I sit here resting.  The lady who cleans and takes care of the apartment for us sickies comes in and tells me "drink more."  Her English catches me off guard and so I look at her and she says it again, "drink more!"  And so I go make my self a tea and come back.  She enters the room again hearing me sniffle and says "We have an expression in Russian... the cure for your cold is hot tea with lemon and a night with a hot man."  Giggling I respond "Well, the lemon I think I can do but the hot man might be hard to find."  She laughs and then goes about her work.  There may be some truth to her expression.  For now, I think I'll just go to the store to buy some more lemon and tea.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The art of naming animals

Who knew that there were rules to naming animals in Moldova?  I sure didn't.  I figured it worked the same as in the USA... we name our pets with funny names or even human names or adjectives that suit them, like fluffy or yippy.  Well apparently in Moldova there are rules to the naming game when it comes to animals.

Rule #1: You DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT give animals human names.
Rule #2: You name every animal after the day it was born on and based on it's gender.
For example if a baby calf is born on a Thursday and it is a girl it will be Joiana or if it is a boy it is Joionel.

Now you may be asking yourself how I came upon this knowledge?  Well last Thursday I helped birth my first Moldovan calf.  He is a tall red and white bull born from a very narrow-pinned mother.  Helping with this really made me miss my farm at home, the smells and sounds of the baby calves and working with my family (I know I must be going crazy).  The mother's first milk, colostrum is not only used to feed the newborn calf, the cats, dogs and goats but also to make a special sweet bread which was quite tasty!  Okay, okay, I know you want to meet the little guy... so, poftim:

Want to know what I did today? Check out my awesome Youtube video.

January 18, 2011 marked the inception of my local English Club. Building up to my English Club I posted announcements on the bulletin board outside the mayor's office, at the kindergarten, outside my office, at the school and even the discoteca. My announcement advertised a fun way to learn English in a less formal setting. The first class included 13 participants with an age range from 8 - 55 and professions from student and librarian to NGO director and farmer. There was definitely a distinct line between those who have no knowledge of the English language and those that are more advanced and so my English Club now meets twice a week and continues to grow. Tuesdays are for the beginners (a core group of 10 young kids) and Wednesdays for the more advanced group (includes a core group of 8 high school kids and one university student). I try to find creative ways to teach English vocabulary including games like "Red light, green light," "What time is it Mr. Fox?," dominoes, Go Fish! and even Frisbee. Today, we had a bit of a different lesson. They learned the vocabulary necessary for our project to pick up plastic bottle caps and then in Romanian we spoke about what it means to be a volunteer as well as the three goals of Peace Corps. After collecting the caps we counted them and found we had collected 778 bottle caps and doing the math (60 caps = one loaf of bread for the poor) we found that we had helped about 13 people! Click on the video and come along with my English Club and I on our adventure in bottle cap collecting for a cause!

Books for my library: Thank you Darien Book Aid!

This winter I received a shipment of books from Darien Book Aid for my local library.  The shipment included much needed books in English for my local library.  The librarian, Maria was ecstatic as was my partner who enjoyed showing me the penguin dance when she saw the books on penguins.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Volleyball Equipment for Moldova

April 1, 2011 until May 15, 2011 I have begun efforts to help a very active women's volleyball team in the raion (municipality center) of Orhei, Moldova. This awesome group of competitive athletes lacks the proper equipment to practice as a whole team. I implore all of you to donate or ask your local school to donate either unwanted (yet still usable) equipment or a send a small sum of money to support my efforts (for shipping).  Want to get involved?  Join my Facebook Event!
Equipment Needed: Knee pads, volleyballs, practice jerseys, and anything else you are willing to donate!
To help with shipping costs make checks payable to Emily Getty and write the following in the memo: Volleyball equipment for Moldova.

USA shipping address:
Volleyball Equipment for Moldova
Attn: Emily Getty
3691 State Rte. 4
Hudson Falls, NY 12839-3707 USA

International shipping address:
Emily Getty PCV M25
Corpul Pacii
12 Girgore Ureche Str.
2001 Chisinau
Republic of Moldova

Thank you for your contribution!!!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Biden visits Moldova

For an excellent narrative on Vice President Joe Biden's visit to Moldova check out my colleague, Zachariah's blog post: http://zachstout.blogspot.com/2011/03/biden-visits-moldova.html

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Elderly in Moldova

The elderly in Moldova is a very interesting topic.  Although the elderly are respected (younger people should always greet the elderly with respect even when just walking past each other on the street) they are also often forgotten.  I have found that the majority of elderly citizens in my village speak poor Romanian (the most widely used language in my village) and use Russian on a daily basis.  This is probably mostly because of the hard effect of soviet times on these individuals.  Their lives have been hard and many long for the days of communist control when bread was received after waiting with crowds of other people in line for provisions and bus rides were free for university students.  These are the people that remind me how much it "costs" to become a democracy.  They remind me what my relatives and ancestors fought to achieve.  These are the pensioners (British term for retirees) who have to literally pinch pennies just to survive. 

I was at the town market with my host mother one morning and we bumped into her history teacher from high school.  After exchanging our greetings and thoughts on the beautiful weather our conversation (or rather their conversation) moved on to the pains of life.  As the old baba (derogatory word for grandmother in Russian) walked away she said something to the effect of "I hope to die soon so I won't have to experience another winter." 

Needless to say life for the elderly is tough and there is some support but it is limited as it is for any marginalized population.  For those that have family working abroad or have the privilege to live with their families they are well taken care of.  Those that are left here without anyone have to depend on social assistance and neighbors which can sometimes be lacking.  In such a destitute situation it is no wonder that the elderly population in Moldova has poor health, hygiene and tends to drink copious amounts of alcohol (whatever they can get their hands on really).  It's sad.  The government and the local communities need to take responsibility for their elderly. 

Some resources I have found:

Sunday, March 13, 2011

10 Women Scientists who should be FAMOUS!

In honor of International Women's Day I would like to share this Britannica Blog post with all of my readers out there about the top 10 women scientists: http://www.britannica.com/blogs/2011/03/10-women-scientists-famous-famous/

March 8, 2011: International Women's Day 100th Anniversary!

Annually on March 8, women around the world celebrate and are honored on International Women's Day.  This holiday was originally organized by socialists and was declared "International Working Women's Day."  This is a day for women around the world to raise awareness about women's rights issues and appreciating the accomplishments of the women who came before us as well as looking forward to our future successes.

This holiday is more ingrained in many of the former communist countries like Moldova.  I received gifts from my host mom and my partner for International Women's Day (a tulip, some chocolates, and a flowery mug) as well as gifted potted flowers to the women in my life; my tutors, host mom and work partner.  In American culture I suppose you could compare it to Mother's day but on this day it is customary to give gifts to all the important females in your life.   

A helping hand for migrant mums

"Almost 90% of abandoned babies in Moscow are born to migrant workers from Central Asia, Ukraine and Moldova, as well as from Africa, the Republic of the Congo in particular."  To read the full article click here.

Moldova on the MAP!

I am sure that you have all heard "the news," but if you haven't let me fill you in... Moldova received a visit from United States Vice President Biden.  Not only was I able to stand on the stage behind the Vice President the entire time, waving flags and smiling but the entire Embassy staff and their families as well as the entire Peace Corps family were all invited for a "meet and greet" following the public speech.  It was very nice being able to hear Biden speak so frankly with us about the importance of improvement on the issues of human trafficking, institutional corruption and free press.  He indicated that if Moldova's ranking on these issues continues to deteriorate rather than improve then any and all aide (fiscal or otherwise) from the United States of America can and will be stopped.

This visit was a great honor for not only the Peace Corps volunteers but the entire country of Moldova.  With the recent negative coverage on Moldova regarding their unhealthy drinking habits, this visit has put Moldova on the map in a more positive light; not only regarding politics and foreign relations but also in relation to their wine industry!

Moldovan TV coverage (with video of me in the background)
Radio Free Europe coverage (video and article)
Wall Street Journal coverage
More Wall Street Journal coverage
Reuter's article
AFP article
Yahoo! article

"Meanwhile Biden's wife Jill and granddaughter Finnegan visited the famous Cricova wine cellars just outside Chisinau, in an apparent effort to highlight the country's ambition to raise its profile as a wine-exporting nation." - AFP article (sited above)

Drinking Culture
Moldova wines in the United Kingdom
Exclusiv vodka made in Moldova makes a damn good dirty martini

I am so proud to be a Peace Corps Volunteer in the tiny landlocked nation, the REPUBLIC OF MOLDOVA!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Based on her work with UNICEF...

I recently finished reading the book "Ana's Story: A Journey of Hope" - Jenna Bush.  If you are a health educator or interested in reading personal stories about the affects of HIV/AIDS in the developing world, then this is the book for you.  It is written at a reading level for children in Middle School and highlights the importance of being open about your disease, practicing safe sex and the trials of growing up in a poor neighborhoods in developing nations.  At the end of the book there are several sections available for book club questions, more information on HIV/AIDS and tips on how to get involved. 

This book got me thinking about HIV/AIDS in Moldova.  Anytime, I speak with one of my English Club students they deny the existence of the disease.  And once I show them news and information acknowledging its existence they then continue to explain that if HIV/AIDS is here in Moldova it must have come from the USA.  Americans certainly brought it here.  This week I am going to bring this book to my English Club and hopefully one of my students will want to read it.

In my search for more information about HIV/AIDS in Moldova I found a website with some resources: http://aids.md/aids/
Another with information: http://www.usaid.gov/locations/europe_eurasia/countries/md/index.html
And finally an interesting article from the Economist: http://www.economist.com/research/articlesBySubject/displaystory.cfm?subjectid=348867&story_id=17572252  

The article from the Economist was most eye-opening.  Apparently the HIV/AIDS situation in Moldova is "stable" (according to their map) but many of the other old soviet republics and neighboring nations have no data available.  Interesting.  I suppose it is just something to think about.  How many people do you think are living in this country with an HIV/AIDS secret?  I also wonder how many people do not even know that they have the disease...

Monday, February 28, 2011

Woman of the forest

This post is long overdue.  In Moldova, when it rains in the fall and spring people flock to the forests to gather mushrooms. Now the funny part is that we have a mushroom factory in my town and so I asked my host mom and the hairdresser why exactly we gather the mushrooms from the forest when we should support the business in our town.  They promptly replied that there was not an economic reason for this, but rather to enjoy our afternoon together picking mushrooms.  Enjoy?  Enjoy bending over for 5 hours to pick two measly bags of mushrooms?  Enjoy scavenging through the woods?  I did enjoy the small talk with my host mom and walking through the forest taking pictures. Meeting other scavengers from the village was fun as well.  The mushroom picking... well that I could have done without.
Here are some awesome photos from the day:

Celebrating Spring on March 1

Long, long ago the sun would descend into villages as a handsome brave young man so he could dance at wedding parties and holidays. One day a dragon ambushed and jailed him. The whole world grieved. The birds forgot their songs, the murmur of spring ceased, and the singing of young girls and laughter of children turned into deep sorrow. No one dared fight the terrible dragon. However, there was one man brave enough to attempt to set the sun free from the dragon’s prison. Everyone gave him their strength to help in this difficult task. He walked through summer, then through autumn, then the entire frosty winter, until he found the castle of the terrible dragon. A dreadful fight for his life began. They hit each other mercilessly, shedding blood and sweat in the crystal snow. Both the dragon and the man were very strong, both wounded across their chests, arms and shoulders. At last the brave man gained victory as the cruel dragon fell to its death. The victorious man broke the walls of the prison and set the handsome sun free. The sun sprang into the sky. Nature began to revive, and people were glad, but the brave man did not last to see the spring. His warm blood dropped on the snow that began to thaw in the flowers that were growing. The snowdrops gently rocked their petals, heralding the beginning of spring. The last drop of strength and blood fell from the young man’s arm on the first of March, and he closed his eyes and stopped breathing.  Since then, in his memory, all the girls knit two tassels, a white one and red one, as a sign that spring is beginning. The girls present this token to boys of whom they are fond. The token is named Mărţişor, which is the diminutive form of Martie, the first month of spring. The red color stands for love of everything that is beautiful and is the color of the brave man’s blood. The white color symbolizes happiness, health and purity like a gentle and fragile snowdrop, the first flower in spring.  People give each other the Mărţişor on March 1 as a symbol of new life and love. Everybody wears it for the first week of March, though it is not uncommon for it to be worn the entire month. At the end of March the Mărţişor is put on a tree. They say that this will bring a good year and good crops. 
Snowdrop, the first flower of spring.

Celebration of Spring (Mărţişor) – March 1
During the first week of March, many concerts, musicals and entertainment take place to celebrate spring. As a token of love, friendship and greeting, people give and wear small red and white lapel flowers, mostly a handmade decoration, to signify the legend of Mărţişor.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Cold hands, cold feet, my office is a refrigerator!!!

I love the winter.  I do, I swear. And I am very glad that I grew up in a cold climate and had the common sense to bring amazing layers.  I have silk long underwear, cuddle duds, winter and summer under armour, thick socks, wool socks, wicking socks, hats, gloves, mittens, down feather coats, and the list could go on and on.  I am to say the least prepared (probably overly prepared).  The sad part is I don't take many of these layers off once I enter my office.  Our only source of heat is a small gas heater located on the wall near my desk, thankfully.  It puts out a lot of heat but it's located just below the windows and on a wall that is not insulated.  We also have 12 foot ceilings.  My partner at work understands that all the heat escapes through the windows, wall and up to the ceiling, but what can we do?  Hopefully this grant I am writing to make repairs in the building will fix the windows, get us a carpet and maybe a ceiling fan.

Anyway, today when I was really cold my partner came over to stand on the heater and grabbed my hands and said (in Romanian) "Wow!  Your hands are so cold, like an icicle.  You're husband will be very handsome.  We say that people with cold hands will have handsome husbands."
My response (in Romanian)?  "Well, I'll wait for him.  This handsome husband."

Everyday, I learn something new about the culture.  So now, I begin my search for a trophy husband.  I better start working out a little more if I think I'm going to attract someone so "frumos." 

Friday, February 11, 2011

U.S. Senator Wants Trade Sanctions Lifted On Moldova

Interesting news tidbit...
A senior U.S. senator has introduced legislation in Congress that would life a set of U.S. trade restrictions on Moldova that were imposed in 1975. 

The Ash Garden by Dennis Bock

I just finished a very interesting historical fiction novel by Dennis Bock, "The Ash Garden."  Bock does a beautiful job of capturing the reader's attention with the book's opening sentence, "One morning toward the end of the summer they burned away my face..."

This novel offers three diverse perspectives on the bombing of Hiroshima.  A German scientist, Anton Boll, who contributes to the building of the A-Bomb.  His wife, Sophie, an Austrian Jew who sails on the St. Louis bound for Cuba and ends up in a refugee camp in Quebec, Canada.  Emiko, a you Japanese girl who witnesses the bomb dropping on Hiroshima. Through colorful illustration and historical fact brings these characters to life and allows the reader to walk through the creation of a scientific wonder to the felling of devastation and pain in it's aftermath.

It's a read I would suggest others to absorb themselves in.

Challenge: Live like a Peace Corps Volunteer

I recently came across a really interesting blog.  So here is my challenge to all of you.  I have no microwave or toaster at home.  Only a stove top and an oven (both gas).  So I challenge you and your friends/family,  try living without a microwave and a toaster for a week!  Please let me know how it goes... how long until you cave or any challenges or funny stories you can share.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Foreign Correspondent for Pink Pangea

Hello readers!

I just wanted to let all of you know that twice a month I will be featured on Pink Pangea a blog for women travelers.  It is a great resource for women travelers with tips and tricks for destinations "off the beaten path."  You can also check out their Facebook page.

Anyway, I just thought I would let you know that I hope to get Moldova on the map by writing for this blog!

Peace and love,

Friday, February 4, 2011

New Project

Today, my partner approached me with a new project.  Apparently Moldova does NOT have a digital database of people's addresses and phone numbers.  Don't get me wrong they do have a yellow pages website but this does not include a search for "people" like we have in the USA.  This makes finding someone's telephone number, address, email address or contact information almost next to impossible... unless of course they have a Facebook page, which is not exactly common in the rural villages.  So today, I downloaded a Phone and Address Book template from Microsoft's website and using a barely legible hard copy list of names and addresses that my partner somehow procured (without permission) from the local phone company, I am making a sustainable, digital version of a town phone book for a community of 8,000 people.   Wish me luck!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A recipe for flatulence: Christmas in Moldova

Now before you all judge me for the title of this post, just read about the cuisine and condition I am living with here in the magical land of cruciferous vegetables.  Since returning from my travels in India in 2008 I have had issues with my stomach and digestion.  The medical community diagnosed me with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).  So with this condition I am more apt to have discomfort when eating certain foods.  You'd think I'd be fine here with all the potatoes, bananas, oatmeal and basic BRAT diet needs but the influx of cabbage in my diet has certainly had an affect.

Christmas in Moldova is an interesting celebration.  It is celebrated in the old Orthodox tradition with Christmas day being January 7th and New Year's Day being January 14.  On Christmas eve my host mother and I were greeted by several children reciting poems in sing-song voices and opening their bags for candy.  I caught myself trying to ask the question, "Trick or Treat?" as the tradition of going door to door for candies is more of a Halloween thing for us Americans.  After this, the eating began.  And oh did we eat.  We had bread, boiled rooster meat in a rooster-stock-jelly, cold potato salads, layered salads with fish, potatoes, carrots and red beets topped with may-o, small meat burgers (much like meatloaf).  And then came all the hot foods: soups with cabbage, sarmale, sausages, etc.
I ate once with my host mom at our apartment, then we went to my partners house two hours later to eat more, then on our way home we stopped at my host mom's cousin's house and ate more dessert and drank more wine.  I ate very little at the last stop and the Moldovans could not understand why I was full, uncomfortable and just wanted to go home to sleep.

I really want to share with all of you the local foods and to do so I will be uploading the recipes to allrecipes.com and posting the links on my blog!  Above you will find the link to the traditional sarmale, enjoy!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

5 Free Texts to ME!!!

Hey guys! Want to send me up to 5 free texts a day?? Now you can!
Go here.
Then, under TO, choose the option: +37360
Then type: 069709
(+37360069709 is my number... I get free incoming calls... skype is super cheap, if you don't already have an account, you should get one then add money and also me!)
Then you can type your message! I probably won't respond, but if you want me to, I will email you when I get back home, so please leave your email address if I don't already have it. Also, in the FROM, please put your name so I know it's you!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Reflecting on 2010

2010 was just another year for me.  I moved an average amount (twice).  I finished my last semester of graduate school.  Traveled to Aruba and landed in Moldova. I also found myself relying on my family and friends more than ever.  As I look back in all that I have accomplished this year I think the most important has been my increased respect and appreciation for my family.  I have not always been the most excited for family gatherings and usually brought a bottle of wine to help "cope" with the situation.  I think mostly I felt like an outsider in my family.  I don't exactly follow the path to "success" that is expected of the children in my family.  I think it's mostly because the components that I would utilize to measure success vary greatly from almost everyone in my family.  All that aside, I am learning to respect the differences that we all possess and even if I have to smile and laugh my way through ignorant conversations or tyrannical rants, I can appreciate the fact that my family is the way it is and the environment I grew up in has made me the way I am.  So, thank you to my fun and fruity family.  I love you and miss all of you.  Now get yourselves over here and visit me!

Historical digestion

I have much to tell you as I have just returned from Christmas vacation in Germany and for the last two days have been preparing for and celebrating the Orthodox Christian Christmas.  I promise that I will update you on all of these things complete with photos... but for now I want to tell you about someone I met.

Yesterday, I met my host mother's eldest living relative.  He is a medical professor at the state medical college in the country's capital.  A very intelligent, down to earth and emotional man.  He had been celebrating Christmas with his family in my town all day and the mixture of wine, food, family and darkness had left all of us in a physically uncomfortable and emotional states (literally, my belly was bloated and hurting).  As always when I meet new people they begin bragging about their own families and their successes.  His sister's daughter is a physician's assistant, his son-in-law works for this company, his granddaughter is going to be the best artist in Moldova, and on and on.  I enjoy these rants as it opens up another world to me.  I am just a foreigner here and the more intimate details I learn about my community the more I begin to feel a part of it.  He then began to speak about politics and economics (try explaining economies of scale in Romanian to a half drunk crowd of citizens angry about their economic status) and finally landed on the story of his family's history in Peresecina (my town).

Apparently, my host mother came from a very prominent family in my town, I believe her roots trace back to both Russia and Romania.  In the late 40's when the communists came to deport the more "threatening" individuals from Moldova in order to import specialists to help Moldovans build a "brighter" future, members of my host mother's family were deported including this elderly gentleman.  He told me he was five years old at the time when his mother, siblings and father were all deported.  He remembered the train ride was long, grueling and smelled.  He also remembered that his own mother gave birth on the train and his little sister was born.  As he began to cry he told me that he spent 10 years in Siberia before the communists would let him come back and that everything was changed when he returned.  The animals they owned, the land their family had, everything was gone, destroyed.  As he cried, my host mom and I tried to comfort him as his sister poured everyone another glass of wine.  We toasted to the future of Moldova and the historical discussion stopped.  He then began quizzing me about my family, my life and of course... why I wasn't married.

It's moments like these that I realize how very little I understand of the history and the terror that these people have lived through.  I tried to explain the irony in that the people of this country have a rich history and yet their nation is so young, and evolving.  I wish that in school I had learned more about this time period from a more personal perspective.  I think its the historical facts told from a personal point of view that help us to remember that we must never forget the terror that has occurred in the past so as not to repeat these actions in the future.