During my site visit, I met a University student, Caterina, who works for another NGO in Balti and is a friend of both my partner and my host mother. While she was showing me around Balti, she told me how much she wanted to have a ‘Free Hugs’ booth here; she’d seen it done on a video blog online and wanted to bring it to Moldova.
A month later, during my first weekend at sight, I was showing another PCV around Balti and he commented how central Balti would be the perfect place for a ‘Free Hugs’ booth. I connected the two of them and this past Saturday there were lots of ‘Free Hugs’ given in central Balti.
When I told my work partner about the event she suggested that all the participants wear t-shirts from our organization to promote awareness of our organization. Caterina and her friend Igor, both of whom are former FLEX students, made the banners. (FLEX is a program that brings high school students from former Soviet states to America to study for a year in an American High School.)
Saturday, we arrived in the central square in Balti around five and it wasn’t as crowded as we had hoped. We met a Czech couple who were backpacking through Moldova, took pictures with a wedding party and had a Russian gentleman ask us to tell Obama not to bomb Syria. The event also gave me a chance to interact with some new Volunteers and helped me find two interns. Overall the event was a success – the youth involved had a good time interacting with their community, a lot of hugs were given and we discussed what could be done differently next time.