2009.05.10: May 10, 2009: Headlines: COS - Romania: Marriage: Hudson Hub-Times: Joseph Martin along with his wife Liz Monk are serving as members of the Peace Corps in Transylvania in Romania

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Romania: Peace Corps Romania : Peace Corps Romania: Newest Stories: 2009.05.10: May 10, 2009: Headlines: COS - Romania: Marriage: Hudson Hub-Times: Joseph Martin along with his wife Liz Monk are serving as members of the Peace Corps in Transylvania in Romania

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Joseph Martin along with his wife Liz Monk are serving as members of the Peace Corps in Transylvania in Romania

Joseph Martin along with his wife Liz Monk are serving as members of the Peace Corps in Transylvania in Romania

Life in Romania, which is about the size of Oregon, "may not fit the profile that many people may associate with the Peace Corps experience." He and his wife don't dig wells or live in huts, but serve in other ways. "However, we have found many challenges lying under the surface," Martin said. " While Romania is developing, it still retains many of its traditions and old-world roots." He added that along with the old-world roots and farms mixing with "beautiful rolling green hills and mountains, speckled with small villages," there also is a blending of modern society and brick apartment buildings. "It is not uncommon to see a Volkswagen or even an Audi driving on the same street as a horse-drawn cart," he said. And while Martin said the people are the same, there are some differences. "We have observed a great sense of connection between people and the source of their food that is sometimes lacking in the United States," he said. "Another large difference between Romanians and Americans is that there exists in Romania a strong and direct connection with the land and agriculture -- many people living in towns and villages live entirely off of home grown vegetables and locally raised meats."

Joseph Martin along with his wife Liz Monk are serving as members of the Peace Corps in Transylvania in Romania

Hudson grad travels to Transylvania for Peace Corps

by Tim Troglen
Reporter

Caption: Hudson grad Joseph Martin and his wife, Liz Monk, both members of the Peace Corps, pose for a picture with the Romanian landscape as a backdrop. Photo By Special to Record Publishing Co.

Some would think that people who hail from a region known for vampires would be just a bit different than Hudson folks.

But not according to former Hudson resident Joseph Martin, who, along with his wife Liz Monk, are serving as members of the Peace Corps in Transylvania in Romania.

"People are people," Martin said.

Both husband and wife work close with the populace, with Monk teaching English and environmental education to children and Martin putting together a softball club in area villages and developing a project to assist victims of human trafficking.

"Generating interest among the public has been extremely challenging," he said. "Human trafficking has proved to be a very sensitive issue and many are reluctant to acknowledge the extent of the phenomenon in Romania."

Martin, 27, lived in Hudson for 13 years, attending kindergarten at Evamere Elementary School and graduating from Hudson High School in 1999. Martin's parents, Bob and Judy Martin, still live in Hudson, he said. Monk, 28, grew up in Ithaca, N.Y.

"Joe and I both considered the Peace Corps individually before we met," Monk said. "It worked out perfectly that we were both excited for the chance to continue working in our respective fields while seeing the world at the same time."

He said for all the differences that exist between the United States and Romania "there are as many similarities."

"We talk about our families, complain about bosses, and laugh together over a meal and a drink," he said. "At the same time, as every individual is different, it is hard for me to get very specific about similarities and differences."

According to Martin, the couple met while working in Rhode Island "at a wilderness therapy program for adjudicated teenage boys working through anger management and various other emotional health issues."

And about the legend of the infamous Dracula, Martin said it "is not a big deal in Romania in general, besides as a marketing ploy to attract tourists to certain areas."

Martin said they have been in the corps for one year, with one year remaining.

"We have been in Romania the same amount of time as we have been in the Peace Corps," he said. "We live in Turda, Romania, which is a former salt mining town in Transylvania."

Martin said they joined to not only help people but to see the world while being "immersed in different cultures."

But he added life in Romania, which is about the size of Oregon, "may not fit the profile that many people may associate with the Peace Corps experience." He and his wife don't dig wells or live in huts, but serve in other ways.

"However, we have found many challenges lying under the surface," Martin said. " While Romania is developing, it still retains many of its traditions and old-world roots."

He added that along with the old-world roots and farms mixing with "beautiful rolling green hills and mountains, speckled with small villages," there also is a blending of modern society and brick apartment buildings.

"It is not uncommon to see a Volkswagen or even an Audi driving on the same street as a horse-drawn cart," he said.

And while Martin said the people are the same, there are some differences.

"We have observed a great sense of connection between people and the source of their food that is sometimes lacking in the United States," he said.

"Another large difference between Romanians and Americans is that there exists in Romania a strong and direct connection with the land and agriculture -- many people living in towns and villages live entirely off of home grown vegetables and locally raised meats."

And while they spend time as observers of the Romanian culture, their work also extends to being sort of an ambassador for America.

"We are frequently asked questions about life in America including our holidays, the climate, food, sports, etc. -- and we do our best to share our culture," Martin said. "[In] November, for example, we introduced some of our Romanian friends to a traditional American Thanksgiving meal."

But it's not just Martin and Monk doing the teaching -- it goes both ways.

"At the same time, we try to learn as much as we can about Romanian culture by learning the language and getting to know the people," he said. "We integrate in simple ways like helping people in the garden, sharing meals and just hanging out."

Martin said the country, which revolted against communism 20 years ago, still feels the effect of the former rulers.

"As we speak with different people, we have found greatly varying opinions about the quality of life before and after communism, he said. "And, while it is hard for us as outsiders to sift through and differentiate the many cultural differences, we understand from speaking with locals that the 'communist mindset' still has a great affect on politics and the work environment."

But Martin also called members of his Romanian community "very open, accepting and friendly."

And while Martin said he and Monk are able to keep in weekly contact with their friends and family back home via Web cam, "being away from our family and friends has been difficult."

"Last July, we were unable to make it back to the U.S. for my sister's wedding, and last January we missed the birth of my niece," he said. "We also have two young nephews who we miss very much."

When their service in the Peace Corps is over,

Martin and Monk plan to live closer to family.

"I am looking at master's programs in public policy, and Liz wants to continue working in agriculture and environmental issues," Martin said.

The couple are documenting their time in Romania on their blog at www.
easternramble.blogspot.com.

E-mail: TTroglen@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-688-0088 ext. 3146





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Headlines: May, 2009; Peace Corps Romania; Directory of Romania RPCVs; Messages and Announcements for Romania RPCVs; Marriage





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Story Source: Hudson Hub-Times

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