All of us might wish at times that we lived in a more tranquil world, but we don't. And if our times are difficult and perplexing, so are they challenging and filled with opportunity.

Robert Kennedy

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Weekend...

Today was another long day at Hub Site. It’s a love/hate relationship to be honest. It’s a long hard day of seminars but I do like seeing everybody and especially getting to use the internet. The morning was okay. I got to sit by my ‘team building’ buddies so they made it fun for me. The afternoon was all about safety and security.
So, a few months back there was this story on Dateline about Peace Corps volunteers who had been sexually assaulted and they weren’t happy with the response by the Peace Corps. I know all about this because pretty much everyone told me about it before I left thinking they were giving me information I didn’t already have. I will tell you this now without a doubt; I don’t know if it is because of that report or what but they are VERY serious about safety and security. If you don’t believe me, then YOU sit and listen to the policies and procedures for 5 hours in a lecture hall. They are incredibly serious about it and it is no joking matter. We have to go through many hours of training on safety procedures. Some volunteers spoke out who had been assaulted and all sang the praises of the Peace Corps staff’s response to their issues. So let me assure you, do NOT worry about my safety. I promise I will be careful and always do my best to keep safety at the top of my list. And if something were to happen, please know that I am in the best hands possible.
With that out of the way, after the long day, Andrea and I decided to go over to Headquarters and use the internet for a while. It’s less busy in the afternoons and we were able to spend over an hour on it. That sounds like nothing but to us, it is golden. We didn’t get home until like after 8:00 but it was overall a nice day.
The start of a new month. The first time ever I am beginning a month away from the U.S. The one thing that is tough about being here is that when you have a bad day you can’t show it. I mean I can vent to other volunteers but on the outside, I have to pretend everything is all right. I basically woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. Just one of those days where every little thing is extra annoying and on the inside I’m screaming like a spoiled brat. I was tired, could not focus in language class and just wanted to crawl back into bed. But I couldn’t. I had to go to school and smile and laugh and pretend all was well. Lyndsey and I did the usual walk home rant and rave but it was still a very long and frustrating day. We have traveled into the city 3 out 5 days this week and maybe it’s starting to take its toll a little bit. And we’re going in tomorrow too. I am pretty grateful that Michael is in my language class. He makes us laugh all day long. I know we may not be as far along as the other class but we sure do laugh and I’m pretty convinced that keeps us sane. Learning 4 years of language in 8 weeks is enough to make anyone lose their mind. For lunch I sat quietly with Eugen and ate my warmed up borscht (still not my favorite). Lyndsey and I went to the Magazin for some ice cream and headed back to school. I mentioned to Rodica casually that Eugen never talked to me. I have a feeling at some point during the day she spoke to him because at dinner he was a chatty Cathy. We sat and talked for 2 hours. It was very uncharacteristic but very enjoyable. Not only was I speaking a lot of Romanian, I was teaching him a lot of English. So I think we were both pleased. (But I’m still going to ask Rodica if she said something to him because that was really out of nowhere!) Tomorrow the US Embassy is throwing a 4th of July party for the Volunteers, Ex Pats and US Government workers here in Moldova. I’m excited because I finally get to have a hamburger. I was fascinated to learn that with all the things that I have seen my host family eat, red meat grosses them out beyond belief. I sat in the kitchen last night and watched my host mother chop up, clean and start to cook an entire pig…but red meat? Blech! It’s a fascinating cultural difference.
ANYwho, I’m excited to hang out with all the volunteers again and for once in a social setting instead of a seminar. I even shaved my legs! If I break out the mascara…look out!
I cannot even begin to describe what a day yesterday was. I’m still smiling. We had a brief language class in the morning and we were unusually full of energy. After our first break we had our usual Saturday cultural lesson. Today’s was a history of the deportation to Siberia during WW2. It was an interview with a few survivors from such camps. It was incredibly sad and depressing. I realized how little I know about Soviet history or Eastern European history. It’s very interesting but very sad.
We were let out of school early at 11 and went home for lunch. I took a nap and got ready for the big 4th of July party in Chisinau. We all took a Rutiere into the city and along the way met a young man who was Moldovan but had just returned from studying for a year in the US. He spoke perfect English. It was amazing.
The party was thrown by the US Embassy at a local golf course. It was an outdoor barbecue so the threat of rain was worrisome. When we arrived we mostly just ate. There were chicken wings and potato salad but I was still hoping for a cheeseburger. We all wandered around and took in the sights. I found a guy from my hometown, Rich, who works for the US Embassy in Moldova but graduated with my brother John in 1984. He has mostly lived overseas since the mid 90’s but we chatted about home and it was really nice to see a semi-familiar face.
I walked around and found Jesse and Jeremy, naturally, since they are always amusing to me and we hung out. I can’t really explain why, but the party was just a lot of fun. It was finally a day for us all to hang out without rigid schedules, without chaperones and just having a lot of fun. We were there for 7 hours and it was a total blast. We danced, we sang, a live band played, we had some beers, we took tons of pictures and just really all enjoyed each other. There were over 200 people there including PC Volunteers, Embassy workers, Ex-Pats, students, etc.; it was a great mix of people and so much fun. It was the most I’ve smiled since I have been here. We had a ‘private’ Rutiere for a drive home and 3 villages ours (Stauceni), Cricova and um…can’t think of the other one but it’s the one where the ARBD boys live all took the Rutiere. The driver played music and we all laughed and sang and it was wonderful. Never thought I’d have so much fun celebrating the USA Independence Day in a country so very far away from home, but it was amazing!
And now on a rainy Sunday afternoon, Christina, Lyndsey and I are sitting in a library in the middle of Chisinau sucking up all the free internet we can. I have downloaded 76 podcasts and 4 TV shows. It is an amazing way to spend a Sunday.

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