We carried flags for Moldova and Nepal in Philadelphia’s big Independence Day parade. There was a “small problem” with Champa’s flag. Video also online at YouTube.
We brought some homemade Moldovan wine back to America for a family picnic. Here are the results of our taste test. Also online at YouTube.
Champa and I are coming home for a short vacation with our family. While we’re in Durham, we will be giving two presentations about our Peace Corps experience:
- A private talk for Duke University friends at 4 p.m., July 10, Office of News and Communications. RSVP (required) to Sakiya Lockett.
- A public talk at 4 p.m. July 11 at the East Durham Regional Library, together with Chris Cardona, a returned volunteer (China) who is the local Peace Corps recruiter. See the poster below for details.
Earlier during our visit we will be joining returned volunteers from the Philadelphia area in marching in that city’s Fourth of July parade. If you’re watching in front of Independence Hall, check out who’s carrying the flags for Moldova and Nepal.
Please come join us if you are in the area!
On Monday, the library where I work in Ialoveni, Moldova unveiled an exhibit about North Carolina — the home state of “Domnul David” and “Doamna Champa.”
The exhibit features brochures about the Wright Brothers monument in Kitty Hawk, the Biltmore mansion in Asheville, the NASCAR museum in Charlotte and attractions across the Triangle. It also offers information about where to taste wine, go fishing or ride a hot-air balloon in North Carolina.
Before we came to Moldova with the Peace Corps, I gathered these brochures at the North Carolina tourism office on Route 85, just south of the Virginia border. I brought them with me and now finally put them to good use. As I described in an earlier post, Champa and I have also shared souvenir postcards about Durham.
My library colleague, Doamna Stella, and her daughter did a great job of arranging the new exhibit, which is in the center of the library. It’s the latest example of the close ties between Moldova and Carolina du Nord, two places I’m proud to call home.
Champa and I are among the people featured in a new article from journalist Kim Painter about how Americans are navigating the second half of their lives. There are many possible transitions, she writes, but the “big one” is usually leaving one’s life’s work for whatever comes next. Painter also interviewed my sister Nancy Collamer. Her article for Vested appears below and is online here.
Churches and monasteries across Moldova were destroyed or severely damaged under Soviet rule. Today many are flourishing. We recently visited three of the country’s most famous and beautiful monasteries with a group of Peace Corps volunteer friends.
Orhei Vechi, Curchi and Tipova are quite different from each other but are all powerful illustrations of the importance of faith in Moldova, especially the Orthodox Christianity practiced by most people.
Orhei Vechi, or “Old Orhei,” above, is Moldova’s most famous site. Located less than an hour’s drive from Chisinau, it is both a church and an archaeological complex, with caves, grottos and religious structures that reflect different civilizations. They are situated on promintories overlooking a spectacular view.
The Curchi Monastery was founded in the 1770s and became one of the largest monasteries in Moldova. Foremost among its buildings is the imposing red baroque church you see here, dedicated to the virgin birth. When we visited, we were lucky to hear a priest ring the church’s bells and fill the air with music.
Located along the Dniester River, the Tipova Monastery has a lovely church dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. Much older and even more striking are the cave monastery and stone cave cells reached after walking down a steep path. A community of monks worshipping here dates back centuries.
Hiking down to see the cave monastery at Tipova took our breath away. For that matter, so did all three of the monasteries.
Many of my fellow Peace Corps Volunteers in Moldova have inspiring stories to share.
Katrina Broughman and Bartosz Gawarecki, for instance, guided young people to organize recycling projects and reduce trash, an effort that has begun spreading nationwide.
Anne Reid, a former dancer and choreographer from Harlem, launched an African dance class at her local library, leading to other worthwhile projects in her community.
Chrystal Wilson joined with other volunteers to bring young people and others together to talk about sexual assault and harassment, calling attention to the problem of “blaming the victim” when women suffer abuse.
Their stories and others have appeared recently on Peace Corps Stories, which highlights the experiences of volunteers worldwide, from an innovative malaria project in Rwanda to an older American who followed in her daughter’s footsteps and became a volunteer herself as an English teacher in Indonesia. I’ve been helping some of my colleagues here to put their stories into words.
For many years, the Peace Corps communications office in Wahington took the lead in reviewing and editing all of these articles, which volunteers submit from more than 60 countries. Volunteers in Moldova have been among the contributors. “HQ” recently arranged for individual country programs to edit and post articles on their own, to appear on their sections of the site — “Moldova Stories,” “Nepal Stories” and so forth. HQ still edits some articles directly but now also oversees the “local articles” and picks some of the best to feature internationally.
My country director asked me earlier this year whether I might want to assist with this editing and other communications initiatives for Peace Corps Moldova, as a secondary project to complement my primary job. I’ve been happy to help, working most closely with Liuba Chitaev on the staff, pictured here.
Together we helped launch a new Peace Corps Moldova Instagram site and Super Moldovans on Facebook. Earlier this month, Liuba and I gave the first-ever presentation on communications for the newest group of trainees.
Volunteers here are doing other kinds of outreach as well, from blogs and videos to projects such as Jessica Randall describing in 100 Instagram posts and on Peace Corps Stories what she likes about Moldova. Clary Estes has been documenting the stories of Moldovans deported during the Stalinist era. Mark Gilchrist has produced a series of newsletters in English, Romanian and Russian.
Our new projects complement these and other communications efforts, advancing the Peace Corps goals of sharing our American culture with others and expanding understanding among Americans about life in other parts of the world.
I’ve written some “Peace Corps Stories” myself but, just like back home, I enjoy editing as much as writing, especially when I’m working with someone who has a great story but just needs a little nudge, tweak or feedback. There are many more volunteers here with great stories of their own. I hope we’re just getting started.