July 29, 2020. This was a day marked on at least 6 individuals’ calendars. For 6 Peace Corps Moldova Volunteers, this was supposed to be our last day of service. July 29th, we were supposed to be having our Closing Ceremony, to ring the bell; a sign of our successes in educating and learning from others, a sign of our own personal growth and deeper understanding of other cultures, a sign of friendships made and families formed.

For me, July 29, 2020 was a day I was looking forward to and dreading at the same time. The joy of finishing my service was to equate to many things. By this time, I (along with many hardworking colleagues and local friends) was going to have two projects completed: an updated library and a new outdoor workout area. By this time, I would have celebrated Easter, birthdays, Memorial Easter, Village Day (hram), many other celebrations, and spent many more hours with my Moldovan family. I dreaded this day because that meant I would be leaving Moldova, my wonderful Moldovan family, my work partners, and my friends.

Four individuals (two male and two female) smile at the camera. In the middle of the group is a sign that reads "Adio Moldova" and "I'm going home on July 29."
Four friends from their training days to their Close of Service Day.

Way back in January (it sure feels like years ago and not just 6 months), my cohort of volunteers had a meeting to decide when we would be ending our service. (We were choosing from a specific set of dates.) I had picked this day, July 29, with some good friends. We all had been in the same training village and had Romanian Language lessons together and despite being together for well over 500 hours in a 10 week period, we became (and stayed) good friends. Thus, we had decided that today would be a great day to close out our service together. Following our end of service, we had planned to go do some traveling together before we made our way back to the States.

But sadly, none of this happened. As I’m sure you are well aware, COVID-19 changed everything. Peace Corps HQ made the hard decision to pull all volunteers throughout the world home in late March. At the time, I was already back in America for my grandmother’s funeral. Even now, months later, I’m still trying to process the drastic change this nasty virus has caused. And even outside of Peace Corps, I recognize that we are all dealing with and living in a very historic and unprecedented time. I think for most individuals, we won’t be able to fully process everything for quite some time, and I believe that is ok.

Even though these last few months have not been what I was expecting, I have been able to find many positives and many things I am grateful to have gotten to experience. I have been able to spend time with family, celebrated holidays and birthdays, helped out in the family gardens and canned vegetables, and helped make spaghetti sauce. These were many things I didn’t expect I would be doing in America in 2020 (or at the very least not until late August for most of these things). Out of all these things though, the one that I am most grateful for, is being able to meet my new niece just a few days after her birth. (As you are reading this, if on the 29th, then at this moment, I am visiting her for the second time.) Had the virus not have forced me home, I would not yet have gotten to meet one of the newest members of the family. And so, even with the craziness and all the uncertainty that we are living in, I have at least one (really cute) reason to be happy. (No seriously, my baby niece is super cute!)

So, even though lots continues to happen in life, now with schools soon to start, and for me starting a new job, I’m finding that little things like reading and writing are helping me process everything we are going through. I am hopeful that’ll mean new blog posts (many still about Moldova, but maybe other things too), and I hope that you dear reader, find some solace and peace someway, during these trying times. Until next time.

Colorful flowers found at my aunt and uncle’s house.

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