Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Salut! Noroc!! Hello from Moldova!!

Joseph/Ashley Teipel; PCV-26
Corpul Păcii
12 Str. Grigore Ureche
Chişinău, 2001
Republică de Moldova

Just a reminder on our address if anyone needs it :)

I can't believe how blessed we are to keep in touch with our friends and family back home so easily.  

We realized we haven't exactly touched on what our "jobs" are here in Moldova and now seems like the perfect time to give it a shot. :)

I (Ashley) am what you call a HESC volunteer, or a "healthy" as we affectionately call ourselves. :)  As a "healthy" I am required to co-teach 8 hours of health (sănătate) classes every week at the local high school.  I am teaching with two different partner teachers - one is the school psychologist and the other is one of the 4th grade homeroom teachers.  Both are younger teachers and seem excited at the prospect of teaching health and have had a lot (read: A LOT) of patience with my Romanian thus far.  :) 

I will be teaching 2 classes of 4th graders and 2 classes of 5th with Miss (domnisoara) Galina and 3 classes of 6th and one final class of 7th graders with Mrs. (doamna) Ana.  I am also required to co-facilitate with Ana an after school health club.  Although I was (and still am) intimidated by the idea of teaching in Romanian - starting tomorrow!! - I am also very excited to meet the kids and to get started! :)  

The health club is structured to the point of being effective, but also has enough give to allow us (the volunteers) to tailor it to what we want.  I am planning to err more on the side of community health, as I feel community health is an extremely important topic here in Moldova.  I want to try to get some of the youth here invested in Puhoi - and invested in a way that makes sense for them and is still fun!  There is a perfect spot for a mural that I walk by everyday on my way to the school, and I have heard of past volunteers doing murals with their clubs, but I suppose I'm getting ahead of myself a bit... :)  As they say here in Moldova, "o să vădem", or "we will see." 

As a "healthy", I think most volunteers seem to find more comfort in working either in the school or the local health clinic.  That being said I have absolutely no idea what my role is going to look like with the community health clinic, but as always, I am hopeful.  

Now to Joseph...

I.e. 'now to the better program'... hehe, just kidding. I'm an ARBD (PC loves their acronyms in case you haven't noticed), or Agribusiness and Rural Business Development Advisor. Although it sounds official, no one here is really sure what exactly characterizes an ARBD from a COD (Community and Organizational Development volunteers), as we often overlap work placements and types of projects pursued. I am, however, in a bit of a unique placement for PC Moldova (as I mentioned a bit in our July blog post).

My placement with Asconi winery is a bit interesting. Although I have a desk in their extremely nice offices and can go there and work and eat the free lunch that is available to all the factory employees anytime I want, I'm not actually working on anything to do with the factory. I've met with the Director a few times and I gather that he does indeed want to help the local farmers and/or community, but that either he doesn't have any ideas about how to do that, or he hasn't told me yet and is letting me settle in a bit. So although I do go to the factory to use the internet and work on other things a few days a week, most of my energy has been devoted to my other two 'partner' organizations.

One of which is the local ACSA office, basically the agricultural extension office for the town. ACSA is government funded and provides resources for farmers in the area as well as helps organize seminars about different topics that farmers need help with, thereby making experts available to the farmers. In Puhoi, the office is staffed (read, was staffed, the gentleman I've been working with has now officially started as a teacher full-time and therefore there is a search on for a new ag agent) only part-time by one person who earns about $80/month. Since the agent has been in transition away from ACSA towards the school, I haven't really been able to see what I can help the organization with yet, but I have, with his amazing help, met and interviewed a few farmers, and I'm hoping to visit their farms to better understand what issues and problems they're facing.

My other 'partner' is the mayor's office. There was an election in early July and a new Mayor was elected here: Domnul Petru (Peter). He is an amiable guy but very young (26, hmmm, does that mean I'm 'very young' too?) and I get the feeling that, although he really wants to do good, he doesn't have many firm goals with specific objectives and plans to achieve them yet. He initially wanted me to 'just go find an international donor who would pay for redoing all of the town's roads'. Easy peesy. So I took the opportunity to tell him that any international donor agency would want to see a lot of things in place (like mission, goals, strategic plan, demographic information on the town, project costs and timeline, SWOT analyses, etc) before thinking about funding anything. So we've since scaled back and now I'm about to work with him to develop some of those things with the goal of writing a project to repair and rehab one of the local kindergartens. 

So, long story short, I'm not completely clear on what exactly I'll be working on nor how or with whom I'll end up working with the most. Ash and I have both been brainstorming a lot of ideas for projects that we'd love to implement here, but all of them are 100% dependent on the relationships we build and whether or not anyone here is actually interested in any of them. We're trying to work on our patience (which takes on a whole new meaning when we're talking about having patience with how our daily lives look over the span of months), and our Romanian (by finding new ways to study through watching dubbed Disney movies and reading children's books), but we're hopeful that we'll understand things a bit better in a few months.

That's it for now! Pa! (goodbye!)

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