Tag Archives: Liuba Chitaev

In the Spotlight

When one of my fellow volunteers was highlighted on the Peace Corps Moldova Facebook page a few days ago, her grandfather responded: “So proud of our granddaughter making it a better world!”

Screen Shot 2018-05-07 at 4.33.00 PM

When the page highlighted another volunteer, a friend of her mother posted: “You have a very special daughter!”

Screen Shot 2018-05-07 at 7.26.20 AM

For another volunteer, the comments included:

  • It’s young people like you who do make a difference in this crazy world.
  • That’s our grandson and we are so proud.
  • That’s my son. I am so proud of the work you’ve accomplished and know that you have more to offer in the future. Great job!
  • Awesome. Keep up the good work!

 

During the past several weeks, the “Spotlight” series on the Peace Corps Moldova Facebook page has told the stories of these and other volunteers. Each entry briefly describes what the volunteer did previously in the United States and how he or she is now serving in Moldova. Two photos illustrate “then” and “now.” The stories appear in both English and Romanian, and sometimes in Russian, so local audiences can enjoy them, too.

Screen Shot 2018-05-07 at 7.27.53 AM

Liuba Chitaev, who manages communications for Peace Corps Moldova, came up with the idea and has been updating the series regularly with my assistance. She conceived it as a way to “put a human face” on Peace Corps programs, reflecting our shared belief that people often learn best through personal stories. We didn’t fully anticipate the heart-warming responses the posts would elicit from family and friends back home:

“This is absolutely wonderful,” wrote the cousin of one volunteer. “Congratulations on a job so well done!”

Screen Shot 2018-05-03 at 6.17.32 PM

“Congratulations to my lovely niece,” wrote the aunt of another. “I’m so very proud of you and your accomplishments. Well done to your Mom and you.”

The articles have also attracted attention from Moldovan readers, helping them understand the diverse backgrounds of Peace Corps Volunteers and their motivations for leaving home for more than two years to serve abroad. The articles are read by others as well, such as potential Peace Corps applicants back home.

For both Liuba and me, putting these volunters in the spotlight has been a labor of love. All of the posts and comments are public on the Peace Corps Moldova Facebook page, which will be sharing more of these features in the future. We’ll leave the light on for you.

Screen Shot 2018-05-03 at 6.17.13 PM

Advertisements

Peace Corps Stories

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.

Screen Shot 2017-06-13 at 3.07.43 PM

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.

Screen Shot 2017-06-13 at 3.08.32 PM.png

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.

Screen Shot 2017-06-13 at 3.09.49 PMMy 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.

img_2593Together 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.

Screen Shot 2017-06-13 at 3.10.37 PM

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.

Super Moldovans

 

Has someone ever inspired you? Inspirational people exist not only in America but here in Moldova, too. A few weeks ago, Peace Corps launched a social media campaign on Facebook to honor some of them as Super Moldovans.

Celia Joyce, a Peace Corps volunteer from Ohio, selected Ruslan Bistrița, a science teacher from her school with whom she’s posing in the top-left photo. Celia said all of the students and teachers “admire his dedication, kindness and willingness to help. I feel the same way and am lucky to work with him.”

screen-shot-2017-02-10-at-8-52-03-amIn the middle photo on top is Donna Barnes, formerly a professor at Howard University, who called her school director, Eudochia Babalici, a Super Moldovan for working “so long, with so little. She is a true inspiration to me.”

Champa is posing with our host family grandmother, or “bunica.” She wrote: “Nadejda Ciornea is my ‘Super Moldovan.’ She inspires me with her hard work and cheerful spirit. She is 86 years old and travels on public transportation every day to Chișinău, where she sells goods in the outdoor market, even during the winter. It is amazing how much energy she has. ‘Bunica’ is a caring person who makes me feel like a member of her own family. I am so lucky to know her.”

As you can see in the example from Haley Bader, volunteers are posting these salutes in both Romanian and English, with Peace Corps staff providing some translation help. Then the volunteers share the posts within their communities. Facebook is popular in Moldova, so local people see the nice things being said about their neighbors.

 

The response has been gratifying. Donna wrote: “When I showed the Super Moldovan page to my director with a picture of the two of us, her face lit up as though I had given her a pot of gold. I swear I made her day. She began sharing it with friends and family. She recently lost her husband and this is the first time in weeks I have seen her grin from ear to ear.”

Chris Flowers, in the maroon shirt above, got a similar reaction from his Super Moldovan, Ana Mirza, one of the leaders of Diamond Challenge in Moldova. Chris said Ana’s “face absolutely lit up. We often tell each other how much we appreciate the work we both do on the project but this gesture seemed very important to her and I’m very happy to have acknowledged her publicly.”

In the middle photo above is Peace Corps volunteer Alex Bostian, with his host mom, Valentina Efticov. On the right is Katrina Broughman with Nadejda Stoica, an English teacher and community leader.screen-shot-2017-02-05-at-4-47-00-pm

One of the first posters was Michelle McNeary from California. She’s honoring Rodica Novak, in the striped shirt, a senior in her high school whose “enthusiasm never ceases to amaze me.”

The Super Moldovans project began after our Peace Corps country director, Tracey Hébert-Seck, challenged Liuba Chitaev and me to think of a way to attract moreimg_2593 attention not only for volunteers but also for the great work being done by some of our Moldovan partners. Liuba manages communications for Peace Corps Moldova and, at Tracey’s request, I recently began working with her and others on communications projects, drawing on my own background in the field.

That’s Liuba at her desk in the photo. She helped to initiate the Super Moldovans campaign and has been doing a great job of managing it. She’s also planning some other new ways for Peace Corps Moldova to reach out to  various audiences.

It’s been a lot of fun to work with Liuba, who is full of energy and good ideas. She’s Moldovan, of course. Come to think of it, she’s pretty super, too.