This is another in the series of interviews from other Peace Corps Volunteers in Moldova. The interview below is with a Volunteer named Trish, who lives in a village just outside Chisinau.
1. How did you end up here? In this moment, in this time, in this place?
This answer will be long, but I hope interesting. I had been interested in the Peace Corps since I was a teenager. It sort of stayed in the back of my mind. Several years back I “lost’ my job in advertising. That is a description that people can relate to but I like to say it was time to move on and explore my new life.
In my somewhat more free state I went to school for hypnotherapy and began a part time practice, studied for a master’s degree at Gonzaga in organizational leadership, had my own radio show, wrote and produced a couple of plays, did some acting, co-authored in a few books, took some new leadership roles, developed an awards program in the theatre in Los Angeles, became friends with several celebrities, ran the LA Marathon—make that walk the LA Marathon, traveled with my mother. Well, I did a lot of things on my life list. I had a number of accomplishments. Received several awards. A few things seemed to sort of magically come to me in the couple of years prior to the Peace Corps. Things that I had wanted to do or pursue. There are always more things you want to do, but finally I knew that it was time for the Peace Corps. It was now –or never.
The Peace Corps was still on my life list. I had begun to explore it and give thought to it for a few years or so. On June 2, 2012 I was walking home from the gym and thinking about life. I decided when I got home I would go to the Peace Corps website. They website stated they would have a hold on applications after June 17 in order to revise the website. Probably the perfect time limit. One week—too short. A month –too long. Two weeks—just right.
On June 17 I had the Lakers game on the television while I finished my last piece of the Peace Corp online ap. I was interviewed in July and a couple of weeks later received an invitation for Europe and the COD program. I said I was willing to go anywhere, but secretly hoped for Europe. Also, I wanted COD. I don’t think I knew at that time how often these initial invitations were changed. Only a small percentage of PCVs are in Europe and CODs. So I felt I was a lucky minority.
I attended a presentation in July prior to my interview and the PC staff member had served in Moldova. Moldova! I had never heard of the country and was surprised. When I went home I did a search and became familiar with this country. One former volunteer that I had been talking to had served in the Ukraine. I was hoping to be assigned there mostly because she wanted me to go there. All things considered I am glad I did not get Ukraine. So Moldova was a perfect fit.
The Peace Corps process moved through various steps and in late January my file went to the assignment desk. I checked in and they said they had not even gotten to my file as yet. On Saturday February 9 I had a hypnosis client at 1 pm. The appointment was for 90 minutes. Shortly before two pm I had the client placed in the recliner with lights down as I guided her into the hypnotic state. I was up close to her near the recliner and then went back to the office desk. Suddenly from the small mirror on the wall a “light show” started to flash out. It was like shooting stars and swirling lights all around me. I had never experienced anything like that. Then the light moved back into the mirror and swirled there and then to the wall next to it and then went away.
I had no idea what it was and what it could possibly mean. I had never experienced anything like it. When I got home I went into the computer and had several emails. One subject line said—Your Invitation to the Peace Corps. I was a little nervous and opened some other emails. I said a little prayer and opened up the PC email. Lo and behold it was for Moldova that same country that had been a mystery to me. Then a bit later I noticed the email had come in at 2:04 pm and that was the same time as the flashing light. So I took this as a message that this was the right time, the right place and I was the right person. This did not mean that I would cure cancer or baldness, or save the world in any big way. If I would have had any fears or misgivings such as concerns for my mother, the light served to be a guiding force.
So, since this journey has taken me since childhood I do know now that this moment, this time, this place are right. It has been a nice perk that PC celebrated 20 years in Moldova and that Moldova is taking steps toward the EU that adds to my thoughts that I told one of my friends that I will know when the time is right. Never exactly a perfect time, but perfect enough. This has clearly been the right time for me.
I feel that I have had a lot of serendipity that makes it feel that this was always going to happen.
2. What’s your favorite thing about Moldova?
The children. They are so delightful in so many ways. It is fun to just see them walking around. They have been very respectful to me. It is nice to feel like a celebrity in their midst. I enjoy their excitement when I visit a class or an event. I wish I could touch the lives of many more in a variety of ways. I love their school pageants and programs. I love their mostly unspoiled nature. I love the way they recite poems and their pride in what they do as students. There have been many fund and special moments with children at many schools and varied activities. I consider myself very lucky in that regard. My best friend is an eight-year-old. Lucky me.
3. What’s your least favorite thing about Moldova?
The roads and sidewalks and their bumps and disrepair make it hard to move and navigate.
4. A story or lesson from your service?
When I was a child in grade school I was especially interested in the Soviet Union. Some of the photos and graphics in the book stayed with me. I could not imagine some of the experiences. Some of the information may not have even been accurate. I especially related to a cartoon type of graphic of a crying child from the Soviet Union and the blackboard and the teacher saying—“THERE IS NO GOD”. It seems as if life came full circle from that point for me as I came to a former Soviet Union country. I have especially “enjoyed” hearing stories from those that were in school before and after the fall of the Soviets and the quick changes and differences. I found there to be a sort of “special spiritual connection” for lack of a better term to work on having my site city of Durlesti to be the first former Soviet Union city to become an International City of Peace. It created in me a feeling of you just never know where life will take you.
5. What do you miss most about “home” wherever that may be?
I miss food. Sometimes this is food that I would not consider to even be a favorite. We can get certain things here, but never quite the same. When I see scenes of things perhaps in a movie or something in the news, I miss the ocean and mountains of Los Angeles. I miss the theaters. I miss the vibe of life. From my birth state Ohio, I miss just a lot of everyday life things. I have missed seeing my mother. When I moved to LA, I “vowed’ to be sure to see my mother in every calendar year. I will be going to Ohio for Christmas. I have not seen my mother since I left for the Peace Corps. We also have a couple of new babies I have not seen. So I miss the “little” people. I miss just some regular things about American life. The way you change the bed, putting clothes in the dryer, jumping in the car, the simple ins and outs of life. I miss being on the same time schedule as most of the people I have known for years.
6. Knowing what you know now, would you do it all over again?
Yes. I feel I would have always wondered had I not come. I frequently say “It is not perfect. It is perfectly interesting.” There has been a lot of serendipity for me in the experience.
7. Quote or song or picture that sums up your service?
Photo above, is the Peace Bread that the little children gave to me at the Day of Peace. I chose this because it was a tie-back to the children from the Soviet Union I experienced in geography class as a child, because I chose the kids at being the best thing and also ties in with one of my big projects.