February 23, 2003 - Personal Web Page: Stephanie Lozeau's Moldova Peace Corps Web Site

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Moldova: Peace Corps Moldova : The Peace Corps in Moldova: February 23, 2003 - Personal Web Page: Stephanie Lozeau's Moldova Peace Corps Web Site

By Admin1 (admin) on Sunday, February 23, 2003 - 9:10 am: Edit Post

Stephanie Lozeau's Moldova Peace Corps Web Site

Stephanie Lozeau's Moldova Peace Corps Web Site

Welcome to my web site!

I am a Peace Corps volunteer in the Republic of Moldova. I live with a host family, I speak Romanian everyday and yes, I get my water at the well. My one year mark has just passed, and I have one more to go. Please visit my site often to see new pictures and letters.

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My parents came to visit in September!

Here we are at the top of the hill overlooking my village.

25 October 2002

Hi, The weather here today is crappy as usual, but what a nice day I am having. I talked to Kim and Mom this morning, in the dark at 6 am. I stoked up the fire for the first time last night in the soba, so it was toasty warm all night. This morning I had fresh warm milk with Hershey's cocoa with Nastia this morning, and as usual she talked really loud, and a lot, complaining about her no-good brother. "Da, Nastia. Da, da."

Then I went back to get ready for school. Outside is overcast but not raining. It's not that cold either, but there is mud EVERYWHERE because it has rained so much. Our school (and most buildings) are made of stone, so inside the school is colder than outside. So because I froze my little buns off yesterday, I put on two pairs of socks, thermals, thick pants, two shirts, a fleece vest and a warm sweater, plus my coat. Then I sweat walking to school. ha!

I was late to meet Nina at school (another as usual). But I found her just leaving, heading to the store. So I headed through the mud to the store in the apartment block, and chatted with her and a couple ladies for a few minutes about people stealing their chickens in the middle of the night, 3 times now. Then Nina said she was sorry but that she couldn't meet with me at school for a few hours as planned, she was running behind preparing a masa for her husband's birthday (which I'm invited to of course). I said "neech o problema" and that was that. But then she gives me this little smile and says "We serve ourselves a beer for George's health?" And I said, "Hey, high." (ok.) But then my American senses kick in and I say "Nina, naaa. Thanks anyway." Just can't do it at 10:30 am.

So I continue on to the polyclinic to announce to some doctors that I have organized a seminar on HIV/AIDS on Friday. A lady from "Centrul SIDA" in Chisinau is coming to do the seminar. There will be all the Health Ed. teachers and school nurses from the 14 surrounding villages (if everybody comes which would be an absolute miracle in this country), and hopefully a handful of doctors from our polyclinic too. I've prepared folders with pens, notebooks, literature from the net in Russian for everybody, tea and food... now all we need is for administrators to do their job and announced it to everybody. (By the way if ever any of you come to Moldova to run seminars, I advise you to double-check, remind, then double-check again, then also do it yourself.)

So of course on my way to school from the polyclinic I couldn't resist coming to Internet. I usually send off a message like this one when I come spontaneously. How do you like that?

At school I'll try to find all the primary grade classrooms and talk to each teacher today. Have to ask them if they'd be willing to allow my peer educators to come during their free classes to do their health lessons for kids. Make tomorrow's lesson for my 6th graders, do some other stuff and go home to eat. Then I'll go to Nina's at 4:00, to sit at the masa with her relatives, husband and drink and eat "for George's health".

I stop and chat with people on the road, find interesting strategies to keep my boots as clean as possible, and daydream about driving myself places and walking on pavement more often. I also think about how fast this year has flown by, and how "little" time I have to get the rest of my goals accomplished. Hmmm. Everything in its time!

Got to go to school. See y'all next time.


Where in the world is Moldova? The Republic of Moldova is a tiny country wedged in between its motherland Romania and the Ukraine. Moldova is essentially the part of Romania that was scooped up into the Soviet Union for 40 some years. But in 1991 Moldovans fought and won their independence from the USSR, the result being its status as the poorest country in Europe. Moldova isn't well known by many people; it's a small nation with an unstable future. But it is full of friendly, vibrant, hardworking people, and it has some of the richest rolling farmland in the world.

Moldova is ever so slowly regaining itself, but it is a questionable process since there are many factors complicating life here, the biggest being corruption. The major problem faced by Moldovans is the lack of jobs. I would say the majority of families in my town have at least one member of the family working abroad illegally. It's likely that more than half of my 250 students have one or both parents in either Russia, Italy, Portugal, Spain or Greece sending money home. Those who have jobs here earn very little; teachers earn an average salary of 25 dollars per month. It makes for a long day when you need to raise or grow most of what you eat, especially for women who have full time jobs.

But despite the plight of the average Moldovan villager, the odds are that villager has a good sense of humor, laughs from the gut and every once in a while says, "Ay, what are you 'gonna do?"

Moldovans as a culture are very hospitable, friendly people. There is no such thing as stopping by for a chat without something appearing on the table in two minutes flat. Some house wine or juice, a few slices of bread, homemade cheese, or Moldovan pastries and cabbage salad. They chat, gossip, talk about the crops, and wish each other health and luck a few times. I am now a "masa" professional. I still haven't made it by to visit all the families I want to in my town, but in one year, I'll make it. Moldovans are also humorous, hearty people and are self-proclaimed optimists. I have never seen a Moldovan completely stress out over anything. Nothing is worth getting yourself that worked up over. They also freely admit that they are a passive culture lacking unity and initiative. It's clear to me that of course communism and the country's long political history breeds this mentality. This is ever-present in my work here day to day. But for every handful of villagers whose minds travel no further than their village and simple lifestyle, there are others who are open-minded, well-educated and motivated to learn new perspectives. Especially now that a sizeable percent of Moldovans are seeing what growing on the other side of the fence, the younger generations in particular are being influenced by other cultures, and this change can be seen here. It's amazing to think that a short decade ago, there was no such thing as commercials on television, just happy Russian films shown from start to finish. This former Soviet republic is changing so rapidly, and it's a country with many diverse levels of society. I live in a village with no running water and 98 % dirt roads, but I can go to the capital anytime and see a movie in English, eat out, or go dancing at a club. The capital of Moldova is virtually a separate society than the rest of the country. Some people are actually loaded; they have money and they spend it. It is bustling and prospering, with Western European influences popping up everywhere. But the black-market economy is centered around the elite, and is not reaching the heart of Moldova - its people in the towns and villages.

So here I am, along with 98 other Peace Corps Volunteers, living in Moldova, taking it all in. Before I came here all I knew about Moldova was that it is located somewhere in Eastern Europe. Now I speak Romanian, walk everywhere, wash my clothes by hand, and I can "drink" a glass of house wine. (But I still don't eat slices of pig fat.) Next summer I will return home with both feet forward, but I can sincerely say there are many things about this place that will be hard to leave. When it's time to go, there ends my experience living in Moldova, and I'll miss it.

On any given day in my town...

I pass by a group of men hanging out on the front stoop, sharing a pitcher of house wine.

Five of my students race down the hill on their bikes with huge piles of grass fastened to the back. They're bringing it back from the woods for the cows.

I see a lady chasing a piglet that decided to take a stroll up the main street towards town. She recruits a little boy to run after it.

I walk by the store/bar and hear traditional Moldovan music blasting, along with lots of yee yeee yeeeee's! Someone in that bar spots me, runs out and physically pulls me inside. Yikes.

I take an hour to walk home from school, as I stop at people's gates and chat.

At least one person tells me there's no way I'm leaving this country without marrying a Moldovan guy.

I develop more and better strategies to make it look like I'm still eating.

I choose my outfit for the day upon which building I will be in the longest, how muddy it is outside, and what's the farthest from needing to be washed.

I get a ride home from school on the back of a 9th grader's bike.

I join a group of ladies chatting on the street corner, we eat sunflower seeds and wait for the cows to come home.

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This is where I wait for the bus at the north end of town. Img_0140.jpg (298513 bytes)

This is the polyclinic where you go for check-ups and appointments. It might have heat this winter!

I run into these two guys probably the most often in my neighborhood. They were so excited that I took they're picture. They gave me walnuts in exchange for making them copies. Store_Openinga.jpg (37791 bytes)

Here's a store opening where they did a little more than sell goods. Can you tell who the American is?

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This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Moldova; PCVs in the Field - Moldova; Photography - Moldova



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