The following is a letter from Ferrum grad and now Peace Corp volunteer Cristy Hickson. she has been in Moldova for a year now, and is clearly having a positive impact -- taking the Ferrum motto of Not Self, But Others to the other side of the world.
It’s summertime, and boy oh boy, am I happy! I LOVE Moldova in the spring and summer. There is new life everywhere: little chicks, baby goats, cows, and horses! I LOVE IT! It is so cool to see a baby horse attached to his/her mother who is pulling a wagon or to watch the mama goat encourage her baby to walk through the big, scary puddle that is separating the baby goat from the rest of his group. My tutor’s cat just had kittens, I could watch them play all day! Literally. And there is green everywhere, just absolutely beautiful.
It is hard to believe that I have been here a year, and that I will be leaving in a year. I am looking forward to coming home, but at the same time I know there is so much I am really going to miss about Moldova - my new friends and family, my students, the fresh fruits and vegetables, the singing and dancing at every party, my host mom’s sense of humor, the endless fields of sunflowers, and the kids all saying “good morning” to me as I walk through the village at six in the evening! Moldova has become my home away from home! I am going to make sure I enjoy every lasting minute I have here! I am hoping to come home a better and stronger person who lives a healthier life and who tries to live in the moment.
Vice President Joe Biden was in Moldova in March! In his speech, he discussed how the U.S. wants to continue it’s partnership with the Moldovan people and government to work towards democratization of not just Moldova, but the whole region. He also brought up the issue of human trafficking, a huge problem in Moldova. After his speech, he met with Peace Corps Volunteers and individuals who work for the U.S. Embassy in a small meet-and-great event; this was my favorite part of the day. He said our work in this country is very important and that we need to ensure three things in this country: 1.) a transparent government without corruption, 2.) an end to the human trafficking crisis, and 3.) free press. I don’t think I will ever forget this day!
One of my favorite topics to talk about with anyone who is willing to listen is the kids in my club! They have worked so hard this year and I could not be more proud! After their last presentation about diabetes, I asked them what they wanted to do next. They decided to prepare skits about the fact that we are all different and unique! I loved that they chose this topic. Their skits were awesome and the audience really enjoyed the whole presentation. Check out our blog and website, http://brav-sanatate.blogspot.com/ and https://sites.google.com/site/bravicea2010/.
On April 16th, everyone was encouraged to come together to clean Moldova in an event called “Hai Moldova”. I worked with the Principal at my school to organize this clean-up event in our village. Every student participated and I think they really enjoyed it! It was really cool to see everyone work together towards a common goal. The village looked great after the clean-up, I could not believe how much trash we ended up collecting. I am certain we will do this again next year, and I am hoping they will continue it after I leave.
By far, in Moldova, Easter (Paștele) is my favorite celebration! Most people head to the church between 10pm-3am to pray and give thanks, they then head home, grab the food they have been preparing for the past week, and head back to the church around 4am. Everyone forms circles surrounding the church, each family prepares a display on the ground or in a basket which includes special sweet bread, red colored eggs, wine, a lit candle, and the food they have been preparing for the past week. The priest then walks around the circles chanting and blessing the food by splashing droplets of holy water over the people and their food. Everyone is supposed to eat the blessed food first thing in the morning for three consecutive days. It was such a beautiful ceremony, I didn’t take any pictures of it this year (a big mistake!), but next year I will definitely take pictures.
The Sunday following Easter is known as Memorial Easter (Paștele Blajinilor). On this day, people go to the cemetery with food and wine to remember those who have passed away. Everyone surrounds the graves of their loved ones and eat, drink wine, and tell stories about the person who they have devoted this day to. Many people even bring tables and benches. The priest also chants and blesses every grave on this occasion; he does this by pouring a dash of wine alongside every grave. I visited my host mom’s husband and son. Her husband died 13 years ago, I believe he had liver problems; her son died as a young boy, he drowned in the bath tub. I loved listening to her talk about her husband and son, she loves them very much!
I am involved in a group called GLOW (Girls Leading Our World), and I love working with this group. I helped organize a training a few weeks ago, it was a big success (in my opinion!). We invited Volunteers and asked them to bring 2-3 students from their school. We ended up having around 15 Volunteers and 30 partners, which was a great turnout. We talked to the participants about how to organize a summer camp. The girls I brought with me said they really enjoyed the seminar and they are looking forward to organizing a summer camp in our village. Our hope is that these girls will develop many skills, self-confidence, and will continue organizing events in their villages even after a Volunteer no longer lives there. I am looking forward to helping out with some of the camps other Volunteers are planning!
The last day of school was today! It’s so unreal how fast this year has flown by! As some of you know, we won a grant to paint a mural! Yay! So I will be working on this for a few weeks with my students. The new Volunteers will arrive on June 8th, so I will be really busy helping them feel welcome their first few days in country. I can’t wait to meet all of them! I will admit I have been Facebook stalking them! ;) Our summer camp will begin at the end of June, it is for girls in grades 5th-7th. I am most excited about this! And then we are starting a girl’s club in July, I am hoping it will turn into something like Girl Scouts! My Mom will also be here in July!! Woohoo! Other than these plans, I just hope to help my host mom in the garden, play with the kids in my village, travel around Moldova, and enjoy the nice, sunny weather!
That’s all! I didn’t write about everything, in hope that you will stay interested, I hope you found some of this interesting!
Love Cristy :)
Health Education for Schools and Communities Volunteer
Peace Corps Moldova
Str. Grigore Ureche #12
2001 - Chisinau, Republica Moldova