Today half of the group from Stauceni took a field trip to a neighboring town to meet with the Mayor and see the work of the current PCV who is stationed there. Paulesti (Paw-lesht) is about an hour drive from Stauceni and luckily we had Peace Corps provided transportation and did not have to brave an hour Rutiera ride. This was a great opportunity to spend some more time with some of my fellow volunteers and one of our program leaders Anna, as well as an opportunity to speak with a Mayor from a different community and see more of the country.
Paulesti has a population of around 1,000 which is composed of mostly older people and children, since the majority of the people of working age, work abroad. (This is a common theme in many communities in Moldova and a problem for community development.) The village has three stores, a library, a casa de cultura (cultural center), the mayor’s office and a school. However as of this year the school is only a kindergarten and older children are bused to the next town over because the town could no longer afford to keep the school open (the school building can hold 650 and there are currently under 100 kids in the town).
The PCV, Ethan, discussed the work he had done in this community, especially his work with the library here. Through donations, grants and a program the Gates Foundation is sponsoring in Moldova called Nova Tech, Ethan was able to get new books and toys for the library, funding for a computer lab and begin to change the library from the soviet style model to an interactive activity and resource center.
After touring the village, we were invited to a masa (large meal, to celebrate an occasion, in this case our visit) with the Mayor, Librarian, Principal of the school and a few other community members. After we’d eaten more than our fill of the placenta, stuffed peppers, crudities, cookies, deserts and fresh made apple juice, we were taken to see the oldest tree in Moldova. It was great to hear about Ethan’s work in this village, see how enthusiastic and appreciative his partners were and get a chance to see more of the county, especially since on Tuesday we will be told our site placements (where we will be working and living for the next two years).