Almost all of the Jarmul women took part in Saturday’s women’s marches: my sisters, my nieces, my daugher-in-law, even two of my granddaughters. You can see some of their photos here. Our friends were protesting, too, in North Carolina, New York, California and elsewhere.
Not Champa and me. We are in Moldova. We sent messages of encouragement but felt like we were missing in action.
I’ve written previously about how hard it is to be away at moments like this, noting after the Orlando shootings in June that “it’s strange to be so distant when something momentous happens back home.” Champa and I felt this frustration even more on Saturday. We were eating placinte and preparing lesson plans in Ialoveni while our family and friends back home were out in the streets.
Here in Moldova, there were no protests in solidarity with the Washington march, as there were in Sydney, Berlin, London, Paris, Nairobi, Cape Town and other cities around the world.
On the other hand, how many Americans noticed or cared who was standing next to Vladimir Putin at his press conference this past Tuesday during Putin’s widely reported remarks about Russian prostitutes? It was Moldova’s new president, Igor Dodon, visiting Putin at the Kremlin. For people here, Dodon’s trip was a big deal. (Even if you don’t speak Russian, watch his amusement when Putin is asked about prostitutes.)
One of the great gifts of Peace Corps is perspective. I am reminded every day that people around the world care about different things, even though they are connected in more ways than they may realize. Through Peace Corps, we and our fellow volunteers are trying to promote friendship and understanding among them. We also remain nonpartisan in our official roles.
So, although Champa and I wish we’d been there on Saturday, we hope our American friends will give us a pass. We were quietly cheering for you. Perhaps you heard us.