After flying to Moldova, my parents drove their rented car to my village, where we spent the next three days. This was one of the best parts of our trip, not because of all the cool sites we saw (although there were visits to our public library, my school, and walks to some sunflower fields) but because my American parents were able to meet and spend time with my Moldovan family and see the place that has been my home for a year.
They got to see what my daily life is like, see firsthand how lucky I was to be placed with my host family, and visit the places in town I see every week. They got to experience the joy of no running water (I usually do have running water and since living here, my host family has even installed an indoor toilet and shower, but there was a problem with our village’s water system while my parents were visiting, so it was all outhouse and bucket bathing for us!), eat the food my host mom prepares, play with my host nieces, and drink house wine.
Three of my young host nieces (ages 2, 4, and 7) were staying with my host parents when my parents were here, and we spent a lot of time playing with them and coloring. Each night at dinner, I could barely get a bite to eat because I was so busy translating all of the conversations from English to Romanian and Romanian to English. There were exchanges of gifts: my host parents gave my actual parents bottles of wine to take home and some little trinkets, my actual parents gave my host mom some oven mitts and an apron and my host dad a multi-tool.
We visited the public library, where my parents were treated like honored guests. The librarian and an assistant presented them with the customary loaf of bread with salt, welcoming them and wishing them health and happiness. We also toured the entire casa de cultura (cultural house), including the auditorium, music and dance school, and wedding hall, as well as the library. After, we shared tea and cookies with the library staff. Later, we visited my school and I got to show them where I spent a large chunk of time each day during the school year.
We walked through my village, and I showed them where the stores are, as well as the mayor’s office, preschool, sports fields, post office, church, and cemetery. On our last evening, we walked to some fields at the outskirts of town to see the views of the village and the never-ending fields of sunflowers and wheat. As we returned, we ran into one of the women who cleans my school and we chatted for a short while.
Though it was wonderful to see my parents interact with my host family, it was also a bit bittersweet. When it was time to say goodbye, there were plenty of teary eyes. We all knew that this is likely the only time my real parents and my Moldovan parents will ever meet. I’ve been so incredibly lucky to have a host family that truly treats me as if I am their daughter. As we said goodbye, my host mother thanked my parents for raising me in the way that they did, and my real parents thanked my host parents for welcoming me into their family and treating me so well. And then we went on our way.