So THIS is the Peace Corps

This is how it goes…Tuesday I find out that, in fact, my luggage and I will NOT be picked up at my current place of residence for transport by Peace Corps staff to my new site, which I have no clue how to get to and where I know not a soul (why in the world would I imagine that to be the case?)  In fact, I will be handed a piece of paper with contact information, a job description, and a welcome letter – all in Romanian – and told “Drum buna!” (Safe travels!) and expected to find my own way.

I am learning what is meant by the admonition: “Moldovans are not the best at strategic planning.”  Or any kind of planning, for that manner.  Things like directions, schedules, meeting times, and destinations are all very loose and ambiguous concepts for them.  Things will work out.  Or they won’t.  Que sera, sera (I wonder if they have a similar phrase?)  I found out quite by accident that the directions that were given to me by my LTI were incorrect and would’ve landed me at the wrong bus station in Chisinau this morning.

My agenda for the next couple of days: Find the correct bus to transport me from Stauceni to the Gara de Sud in Chisinau.  Tell the bus driver that I’m a dumb American who must be notified when I reach that destination.  Once at the south bus station, locate the trolly bus labeled “Hîncești,” find a seat and sit back for 35-45 minutes until the bus stops.  Disembark; look for someone who looks like she’s looking for me (my new Moldovan work partner.)  Hope that she is there.  Try to gather my rudimentary language skills together sufficiently to communicate my purpose for coming and enumerate the skills I will bring to her NGO’s endeavors (ha!)  Go find the apartment I will be sharing with a strange Moldovan woman for the next two years.  Work out cooking, bathing, laundering arrangements (again, all in another language.)

Go to my new office on Monday. Hope that I can find it. Meet a bunch of people who won’t understand me and whom I won’t understand.  Smile a lot.  Say “Dah,” (Yes) and nod like a bobble head for hours.  Try to appear as if I understand what’s being said and expected of me.   Go back to new apartment. Hope that I can find my way.  Eat what’s cooked for me (hopefully something is cooked for me…)  Collapse into exhausted sleep from the strain of trying to translate sense from the babble I’m swimming in.

Tuesday morning board the bus for Chisinau with my new work partner and travel to a conference that is supposed to teach us how to collaborate effectively, when we come from disparate cultures and I speak Romanian like a two-year old.  Smile a lot. Nod like a bobble head for more hours.  Spend the night in Chisinau at a hotel with communal showers (which I will be forced to utilize as it is 97 degrees here and I am running a constant river of sweat.)  Wednesday morning.  More training on how to work with Moldovan partners and ignore the abyss of cultural differences (like timeliness and clarity in directives) that yawns between us.

Go home to Nina.  Yea!  Strange that now it is her house that has become my haven…and that’s what gives me hope.  Not too long from now I am sure that I will be feeling the same way about a place and a group of people who are strange to me now.  Perhaps I will even come to love the abyss.  A very wise PCV advised me to “Just let the culture wash over you…”  Here’s to getting soaked.

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11 thoughts on “So THIS is the Peace Corps

  1. Wow. Since the best avenues for growth are the ones that make us uncomfortable I would say you are doing alot of growth these days 🙂

    Do you remember when I was studying Italian a few years back and compained that I wish I had paid attention in English class when they talked about verb conjucation? And prepositions. And nouns. And articles. Ai yi yi 🙂

    Love You.

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    1. You’re leaving soon for the mother country! Rhiannon leave in two weeks. How is the language going? Romanian and Italian are remarkably similar (nina speaks both, as well as Russian) so maybe we can find common ground…

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      1. I can ask TONS of questions about eating and drinking 🙂 My anxiety level is almost as high as my excitement. Ok, get ready for a shock…I’m traveling for a 2 week trip to Italy with only carryon luggage!!!

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  2. I think I might be Moldovan. This line appeals to me.

    Things like directions, schedules, meeting times, and destinations are all very loose and ambiguous concepts for them. Things will work out. Or they won’t.

    On the other hand, if things are being planned, I like them planned well. I don’t like planning poorly. Either plan well, or don’t plan and just let things flow. This is one of the reason I appreciate people who are driven to have a place for everything and everything in it’s place.

    Best of luck in finding your way to your new home. It will happen – eventually.

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  3. Hey Yvette: I am so enjoying your posts and thinking of you and sharing with others at 1st service. I will especially be thinking of you during this time of “adjustment” or maybe I should say “readjustment” since you have been doing this frequently. Barbara Moss

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    1. Happy to report I survived the initial journey and introductions! Full report at week’s end when I am back with computer. ( and have a cocktail for me…)

      Sent from my iPhone

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  4. You have always been an inspiration to me – embrassing the new – let the water rush over you and grab every drop you can!

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