I learned about your blog from my friend, when I asked her if there are many foreigners in Moldova.
She told that there are few of them: mostly students or volunteers.
And here she remembered about your blog:)
I wanted to ask you why did you decide to come to Moldova? Did you know about the country before?
What did you expect to see when coming here, and what surprised when you actually arrived?
Wish you a nice stay in Moldova!
Tatiana, thanks for your message. Peace Corps Volunteers normally don’t choose their country, but I requested to come to Moldova, for a couple of reasons. First, the human rights issues here interested me — in particular the problems with domestic violence and trafficking in women for sexual exploitation — and I wanted to see how I could help. Second, the idea of living in the former Soviet Union has always interested me, and I wanted the chance to learn some Russian.
As for what I expected to see, I can’t really remember! I didn’t expect all the wonderful fresh fruit in June and July. I was surprised to see that so many young people are so desperate to flee the country for work. I am also continually impressed by how much everyone seems to take care of and responsibility for their neighbors, sharing and helping when it’s needed, which in my opinion is something we lack in the U.S.
I love reading about your experiences in a country that I quite honestly didn't even know existed. Ashamedly ignorant but happy to be educated on it. What gave you the idea to organize a charity run and is that something that is done very often there?
Also, I'm from Tennessee as well. I lived in Chattanooga for about 10 years, Go Vols!!!
The run wasn’t my idea; it was the brainchild of a Moldovan girl I know who has been an exchange student in the U.S. (Huntsville, AL of all places) and a bunch of other Moldovan kids who have studied in the U.S. None of them had ever run in a real race, though, and as a runner they wanted my advice on how to lay out the course, where to have water, etc.
Running in general isn’t very popular here — though it’s more popular in Chisinau with the younger generation — and when I go jogging I get stared at like I’m from another planet. The stares are pretty unnerving, and as a result I find it difficult to motivate myself to go running, which is frustrating for me because I loved running at home.
I’ve got family from Soddy-Daisy and I worked in Chattanooga for a summer, so knowing how small the place is I’m sure we know some of the same people.
MOST victims of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact are pretty clear about what happened to them in 1940. But Moldova, once a province of Romania (and before that part of Czarist Russia) has taken a low-key, some would say muddled, approach to its history since 1991.Last month the acting president, Mihai Gimpu, designated June 28th ”Soviet occupation day”. That infuriated Russia, which prefers to highlight Soviet sacrifice in liberating eastern Europe from fascism, rather than the Stalin-era carve-up with Hitler that preceded the war. Vladimir Socor at the Jamestown Foundation summarised the reaction:'In a commentary issued on June 25, Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs characterizes the Moldovan decree as “pseudo-history” and a move “directed against Russian-Moldovan partnership, harmful to the [Moldovan] state’s national interests.” Condemning the decree as “sacrilegious” (a term previously applied to Estonia’s relocation of the Red Army monument from downtown Tallinn), the Russian MFA warns of possible “confrontations in Moldova’s multi-ethnic society” in this connection. Instead of a “so-called occupation,” Moscow advises Chisinau to speak about “the history that we and the Moldovan people share.” The document puts Moldova’s governing Alliance for European Integration (AEI) on notice that Moscow “expect[s] pragmatic approaches to prevail in the Moldovan leadership and the AEI” (Russian MFA Commentary, Interfax, June 25). 'The Duma’s international affairs committee chairman, Konstantin Kosachev, characterized the Moldovan presidential decree as “idiocy” and “historical illiteracy.” Kosachev also insinuated that Ghimpu was contradicting the “international community’s” position on the Russian troops in Moldova (Interfax, June 25). Well-known Russian Television pundit Vladimir Solovyov proposed calling on a “psychiatrist, to assess this document as part of Ghimpu’s medical history” (Moldova Suverana, June 25).'Officials in Moscow impounded Moldovan wine imports. Russia’s chief sanitary official Gennady Onishchenko said it was only good for “painting faces”. He threatened a total ban on the wine, Moldova’s most important export.Moldova hastened to negotiate. And on July 12, the country’s constitutional court cancelled the presidential decree, saying that Mr Ghimpu had “no authority” to institute the day.The row comes in the run up to the referendum on September 5th which will introduce a direct election for the presidency, ending the year-long constitutional deadlock in parliament, where neither the government nor the opposition has enough votes to get a head of state elected. Keeping the economy afloat until then probably matters rather more than symbolic and divisive gestures about history, however justified and overdue some on the centre-right of Moldovan politics may find them.
This last Saturday I helped organize a 5K run to raise awareness about domestic violence in Moldova. The first one hundred people to register received a free t-shirt, and the race was followed by an award ceremony and a barbeque. At the link above, you can view a news report on the race (it’s in Romanian, but you’ll get the gist of it). My own pictures from the race are to follow.
The Romanian Embassy is not giving visas to Moldovans as easily as you think. Just last week, I spent several hours at the embassy with my host sister waiting for her to get her visa. She was applying for one in hopes of traveling to Romania this past weekend to apply for Romanian citizenship (which she is guaranteed, as her grandparents are Romanian). However, after several hours, she was rejected for no apparent reason. Earlier, she had tried applying by mail for citizenship, but each time, she would get no response. She has also had friends who had lots of problems getting into Romania in order to obtain citizenship. Right now, she feels very trapped here, and is losing confidence that Romania truly wants to get closer with Moldova. Why were you at the embassy?
That’s unfortunate about your sister’s story; I’ve heard plenty of similar stories and by no means do I think that such visas come easy for Moldovans. I hope she has better luck in the future.
As for your question, I wasn’t at the embassy, but I do walk by it every time I go to the Peace Corps office in Chisinau.
Moldoveanca:No. We have lived in this village and two more villages that are nearby.
A:Was it hard to move that much? I've noticed that Moldovans don't usually move that often.
M:It wasn't hard to move, it was hard because my parents split up, my mother moved abroad for work and my father remarried. All of the things my family has had to bear have made it difficult, not the changing places.
A:So you stay with your dad now?
M:No. A year and a half ago someone murdered my father.
A:Oh my God . . . . I'm so sorry. I didn't have any idea.
M:Don't worry about it. Are you going to the disco tomorrow?
ON THE HARSH REALITIES OF MOLDOVAN HIGH SCHOOL EXIT EXAMS
In order to graduate from high school, Moldovan students must pass the Baccalaureate exam in a number of subjects. Which subjects a student must sit for the Bac in depend on a student’s course of study, ‘umanist’ or ‘real.’ The former course is more language and social science based, while the latter concentrates more on hard science. All of my graduating students were umanist students, which means that they had to take the Bac in English or French, Romanianian Literature, and Geography, as well as in a subject of their choosing, such as Math, Physics, or History. The students’ grades on the Bac determine which universities in Moldova (or perhaps abroad) they will be able to attend, how much they will pay, and what course of study they can choose; in short, these tests determine these kids’ futures.
Because of the high stakes, cheating is common. Students will bring in laminated, pre-written essays that have been shrunk to credit card size using a copy machine; they will give up a dummy cell phone at the door and use a hidden one to receive answers via text, often from their teachers (whom they’ve paid for the help); they will bribe people along the way to get advance notice of questions and answers; they will pay the proctors to turn a blind eye, as need be. I taught close to forty twelfth graders, and I suspect that out of all of them, perhaps one girl didn’t cheat at all on any subject, and she’s a social outcast for it. Even some of my brighter students told me offhand that they had planned to cheat on the Geography test specifically — according to them, the test just isn’t passable by itself.
On the English Bac, first there is a text three-quarters of a page in length, followed by a number of questions about the text and vocabulary used therein. These questions are worth a grand total of forty points. After that, the students must write a letter following a prompt, which is worth twenty points. Finally, there is an essay that is worth forty points. Mistakes in grammar and orthography aren’t counted against the students in the questions after the text, but are in the letter and the essay. Each test is separately graded by two different teachers in Chisinau (who are apparently paid by the number of tests they grade, so there’s an incentive to fly through the tests without giving each one the attention its due), and the scores these two teachers give are then reconciled with each other. The grades are on a scale from one to ten. Nine and ten are comparable to A’s, and a five is just barely passing.
My students’ grades came in on Monday. No one failed, which is wonderful. I had a few surprises, though: three of my best students, all of whom did Odyssey of the Mind with me, got below an eight. They were all really disappointed, and rightfully so. They refused to cheat — in part because they didn’t think they needed to on English — and because they didn’t cheat, they suffered for it. Meanwhile, one of my students who doesn’t know the personal pronouns, ‘hello,’ or ‘please,’ managed to get a seven because he came in with a prewritten essay. He’s a nice enough boy, but he certainly didn’t deserve a passing grade. Another student who is about a seven student made a five; he told me he didn’t write much on the essay because he was helping the boy who got a seven instead. Thankfully, the students can contest their grades — the low grades my stronger students were given on their essays were rather arbitrary — and I think they stand a good chance of improving their marks on a second review.
Another girl I taught, who took English as a second foreign language with me and thus didn’t have to take the Bac in English, made three fives and a six on her tests. She may be one of the brightest, most creative girls at the school, but she didn’t put a whole lot of effort into cheating. Yes, she barely passed, but her example along with the others shows how difficult it is to create meaningful change in an educational system that is structurally crippled by bribes and apathy. It’s sad that you can tell who the brightest students are not by their grades, but by who is lined up at the school trying to file appeals to the Ministry of Education to have their tests reevaluated.