Meet my new language teachers, cousins Marcu and Ovidiu, both ten years old. Saturday afternoon I walked with them through the village where I will be living with their family for the next two months.
Along the way they taught me the Romanian words for tree, dog and other things, like this village well adorned with religious figures.
You can see vines behind Ovidiu and Marcu. Many Moldovan families grow grapes to make their own vin, which means … did you guess “wine”? Well, then, as my Peace Corps language teacher Diana likes to say: Bravo!
It’s hard to believe we were in North Carolina less than a week ago. We had two busy days of staging in Philadelphia, then traveled by bus to New York, where we waited for several hours at JFK before boarding Lufthansa flights to Munich and finally Chisinau, Moldova’s capital. Some of the current Peace Corps volunteers greeted us at the airport with cheers and signs. We drove through the city, ate pizza outdoors at our hotel and held our first orientation session before finally being allowed to crash.
The next morning we began intensive language lessons, which some volunteers continued late into the following evening with a vocabulary contest in the hotel lobby.
The orientation was nonstop. We received briefings about health, safety, money and local customs. We visited a local lab to provide blood samples. We walked around the city. Here’s one of our teachers offering advice about how to interact with our host families. Moldova is still very new to us but, so far, we love it.
The 59 volunteers in our group are divided among four programs: education, health, small business development and community/organizational development. Champa is in the first program; I’m in the last. Since each program is staying in its own village or two, Champa and I are living separately during the week and seeing each other on weekends.
My new home is just beyond the outskirts of Chisinau. Since Moldova is only the size of Maryland, Champa’s village isn’t far away. With local Sim cards in our iPhones, we can call each other easily. Here’s the home I’m sharing with the two boys and the rest of their family. I have my own bedroom, a good Internet connection and a house full of friendly teachers, some of whom don’t even ride bicycles.