I awoke to the darkness of the day. The sun had yet to arrive, and I found myself struggling to get myself out of bed. But today, no delay was possible; I was headed to the capital and had to get on the 6:30 ruteria that left my village. Skipping the early route was no option; missing my ride would make me late for the conference I was to attend. And as I was to meet my partner at the conference, I could not be late.

I ate a hearty breakfast, made sure I had all I would need for the week, said good bye to my host family, and was out the door a little after 6. As I walked through the park to get to the bus stop, I felt the sting of the winter breeze. I climbed the stairs and waited for about 15 minutes at the bus stop. The bus arrived and I headed off to the capital.

After a little under 3 hours, I arrived to the capital. From my gara (station), I made my way to the Peace Corps office. I, unexpectedly, was able to say hello to a few fellow Community and Organizational Development Volunteers. We caught up a little, knowing we would fully catch up during the next few days at the conference. I was at the PC office as I waited for another volunteer to make her way from her gara. Once she arrived, we made our way for some coffee and then headed over to where our conference would be.

Project Planning Workshop

The Workshop (PPW) was 3 days of hard work. My Moldovan counterpart and I were overwhelmed with an abundance of information to help us with our project. I found it to be informative and filled with a ton of information. My partner felt the same and networked with a bunch of her peers (especially those in libraries).

Food during the Conference

During the conference, food at the hotel was traditional Moldovan food. Of course I did not take any photos, but lunches always consisted of a soup (zeama) followed by some type of meat with mamaliga. For one meal, we also had some sort of food that originated from Russia. It consisted of beets, cabbage, (maybe) carrots, mayonnaise, and eggs. Rest assured, I did not try it (due to my dislike of eggs). The closest thing I could find was what is pictured below. This is not exactly it and I did not recall any herring being in it, but this (picture below) is a somewhat good photo of what this side dish looked like. (The photo below is a popular salad dish in Russia and former Soviet Republics. It’s called Dressed herring or herring under a fur coat- Селёдка под шубой ).

Selidi pod shuboi.jpg

For dinner, we were on our own. For the first night, I went with a few other volunteers to eat at a sushi place. I ate sweet and sour chicken. And let me tell you, it was delicious! The second day, I joined a large group of volunteers and we ate at a restaurant (which was opened by a former PCV). There was trivia night going on, and I amazed myself with what I knew (and also, how much I did not). I had a chicken quesadilla there. It was good, but definitely not what I am used to eating back in the states.

What I learned from the PPW

The PPW was very informative. I gained more insight than I thought I was going to. It helped me see where our project strengths were and what area needs more work. Oh, I don’t think I mentioned what my project is. After conducting loads of surveys and interviews, we determined that the community wanted to see an updated library- specifically updating the furniture so that we will be able to utilize the space more fully and then be able to offer more programs and activities for community members. It will be a very good project and will positively affect the community for a long time.

Featured below are some photos from the week. Included are photos of volunteers with their partners.

Pictured below are some photos from a training (game) exercise we participated in. The goal was to have the highest structure that would not fall over and not attached to the floor or table. My group won, picture on the left. It might not look pretty, but it was the tallest and didn’t fall over. We received oreos out of the deal. My partner’s group (this activity split everyone and their partners up) had crafted a beautiful tower, but it did not match our height. The picture on the right is PCV James. His group had the unique idea to utilize his height as part of the tower. Technically, that should have counted, but the judge decided to disqualify (wrongly, in my opinion, but that’s worth another few paragraphs).

This was a busy week, but is only the start to an increasingly busier and busier calendar. For now, I’m going to go enjoy a cup of joe.

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