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.
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.
Thanks! I can’t tell from your blog: are you going to Siberia or have you been there already?
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.