It’s hard to believe how quickly these past eight weeks have flow by, but somehow in a blur of Romanian, technical training – on everything from grant writing to workplace norms, seemingly endless Peace Corps information sessions, laughter, new friendships and experiences my PST has gone by in what seems like a blink.
I can still vividly remember my last few days at home – celebrating my last weekend in DC with so many amazing people and the most perfect buttons. I remember the last delicious meal from Taylor, the goodbye hug with my mom in Virginia. My father’s goodbye in Philadelphia, complete with pictures of every moment of check in. I can almost taste that last strawberry mojito, while laughing over way too much food at California Pizza Kitchen, with an old friend, on my last night in America.
I remember the bus ride to New York, waiting in JFK and finally arriving in Moldova – getting off the plane and just being so grateful to be able to rest, shower, unpack, breathe and then being whisked away to host family’s house formy first night. I remember that first dinner, how strange it was to be unable to be verbally communicate even the simplest things and quickly we all began to adapt to this hurdle. I remember how welcoming my host family was, how quickly they adopted me, how much I felt like I was not some foreigner in their home and how little the language really mattered in understanding each other.
I remember the first day of classes, meeting my classmates, LTIs (language teachers) and taking a rutiera for the first time with 12 other Americans and three LTIs – an experience I hope to never repeat. I remember meeting our program managers for the first time and instantly loving them. I remember the first I went to the grocery store, how nervous I was to do anything.
This morning, eight weeks later, it was a bit of deja vu, in reverse as we were picked up, with our growing amount of luggage, from our host family’s in Stauceni in rutieras rented for the occasion vans and brought into Chisinau. We were met in Chisinau by our LTIs (language teachers), Peace Corps staff and either our work partners or our new host families. After a short ceremony, I took the same oath as the President of the United States and was sworn in as a Peace Corps Volunteer. (I am officially a Peace Corps Volunteer!!) After the ceremony, we had a small reception with everyone.
The volunteers had a break while our host families met with Peace Corps staff to discuss living arrangements and expectations. During the break I went to the park nearby the university, with several other volunteers and played chess; suffice to say I need to practice before I play chess in public again. We returned to the University, signed contracts with our host families and then I said goodbye to my fellow volunteers as they headed off to site.
My new host mother, Rodica and I headed off to explore Chisinau and go to a meeting for Rodica’s NGO. Rodica is the Director of another NGO in Balti, that works to promote ecologically friendly practices throughout Moldova and currently is working on a creating a green school in Balti. I will be attending events for my host mother’s NGO tomorrow, Saturday and Monday and then beginning work Tuesday.
Around five my work partner’s husband, Stefan, came and picked Rodica, myself and all my luggage up from the University. The journey to Balti from Chisinau took four hours, instead of the usual two because we stopped for Stefan to drop off contracts several times, for placinata and tea once and then when we finally arrived in Balti we stopped at a grocery store called Metro, that is amazingly similar to Costco. (Seriously, I felt unbelievably at home, even though there were no samples.)