I was inspired by another volunteer in Moldova, Kate, to collect and begin posting interviews of fellow Peace Corps Volunteers from Moldova, so you can read more about the Peace Corps expierence in Moldova, and so that you (and I) can compare the answers between the volunteers. Over the next several weeks, I will post one interview per week of a different Peace Corps Volunteer in Moldova. To start this series off, see my interview below:
Intro: tell me a little or a lot about you. Up to you!
Hi! My name is Leah and I grew up in Fairfax, Va. I graduated from the University of Mary Washington in 2011. After graduation I worked in Washington, DC and until June of 2013, I had never spent more than two consecutive weeks outside of Virginia. Now, I have been living in Moldova for over a year – a country I had never heard of before my Peace Corps nomination arrived.
I live and work in a city in the northern part of the country, Balti. Most days I’m the one walking around with the gradually unzipping backpack, dreaming of guacamole, trying to form Romanian phrases and wondering how I can improve Moldova (and myself).
1. How did you end up here? In this moment, in this time, in this place?
Tough one. I don’t want to sound like Jaden and Willow Smith here, so I guess I would say simply – hard work, luck, great family and friends. Or maybe even less philosophically, I applied for the Peace Corps, got accepted, and after months of agonizing my decision, took the leap and got on the plane.
2. What’s your favorite thing about Moldova?
Easy. Fields of Sunflowers in the summer.
3. What’s your least favorite thing about Moldova?
Harder. Depends on the day, but probably the winters here – it’s not so much the cold, its more getting dark so early and then the mud and dirty snow.
4. A story or lesson from your service?
This question could probably be an entire interview in its own right – but I will keep it brief and go with two things that strike me as important lessons today.
Speak up. Don’t be afraid to be seen as annoying, aggressive or what others will think of you – do what you know is right and get things done.
The importance of communication. The beauty of being fluent in a language. The importance of fluency in more than one language. The difference between understanding words and meaning. Communication without words – just understanding some people.
5. What do you miss most about “home” wherever that may be?
The den and specifically the couch in the basement of my mom’s house in Virginia. That room and couch specifically, signifies this overwhelming sense of home.
6. Knowing what you know now, would you do it all over again?
Yes – 150%, yes. This is an experience that is an undressing – of what you thought you knew, of your ability to communicate freely, of your work, of your social life, of all aspects of your life.
They say some of the most stressful things in life are moving and getting a new job, but neither of these really compares to losing the ability to communicate freely.
When you get here and at different moments just about everyday of your service, you’re stressed on all levels and eventually you realize there’s a lot you can’t control. And you learn to live with it or work around it or prepare for it. And you make it work or you don’t. And on the days you make it work, there’s really nothing more rewarding.
7. Quote or song or picture that sums up your service?
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead
Before I joined the Peace Corps and came to Moldova, I had never had a job that involved a lot of working with youth and had you asked me if I anticipated working with youth to be a defining part of my Peace Corps service, I would have certainly answered probably not. However, now, one of the best projects I have been involved in, is Salut, Balti. This is a municipality wide volunteering initiative that has become so much more than a simple program, it is a result and a catalyst for changing mentalities about volunteering in Balti, if you want to read more, visit here, here or here.