Best Friends

Me with my host niece and best friend, Valerica, last spring

Life as a Peace Corps volunteer challenges a lot of notions we have about how life should be.  One example: my best friend in Moldova for the past two years? She just turned 8 yesterday. A lot of other volunteers’ best friends in Moldova are also much younger or much older. In a lot of Moldovan villages and even larger towns, there aren’t a lot of younger adults, since many of them are working and living abroad. Since the majority of volunteers are in their 20s (though there are also others in their 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s!), this means that most of us have friends that are either kids or significantly older than us.

For many of us, some of our first friends at site are kids. Why? Kids don’t see the barriers that many adults might- they are open, friendly, and don’t care how well we speak their language. Play, whether tag or hide-and-seek, is an international language. Kids are also patient and naturally helpful. And so many of the first relationships volunteers develop with locals are with kids.

In my case, my best (and first) friend at site is my now-8-year-old host niece Valerica. She was six when we first met, on the day I moved to my village. She came to pick me up from the capital with my host mom (her grandma).

When we arrived in my village, she took my hand and said, “Let’s play!”. My host mom often tells others about how she was so nervous when I first moved in, saying “I thought she [me] would be so bored and lonely. And she only spoke a bit of Romanian! But Valerica just started playing with her, and it wasn’t a problem at all!”

She doesn’t live in my village, but visits during the school breaks and spent much of last summer here. She is cute, funny, smart, energetic, and loves to spend every minute with me. One of her favorite activities is to pretend to be a fotomodel or model and have me be her photographer. I usually indulge her.

I will miss her so much when I leave, but I hope she’s old enough that she will remember me. And I hope that someday she can come visit me in the United States!

Life Lately

Last weekend was pretty uneventful.  I did some homework, started packing (not much, but at least it’s a start) for home, and did some laundry and such.  On Saturday night, I went to this place called “Harris Hill”- it’s this mini amusement park of sorts.  Before I went, someone had told me that whenever they go, they feel as if they have been transported back to the 1950s or something, and I agree that it has that sort of feel.  There are some small rides and such, ponies, a golf hitting range, go-cart racing, and a mini golf course.  At dusk, we went up to the overlook, where we watched the sun set.  I then rode around town with some friends, getting a tour of all of Elmira.

I continued my fieldwork this week.  It was a rougher week, but I’m still really enjoying it.  I didn’t get as much sleep this week as I have been getting, which means I’m pretty tired.  I had an art show, which opened on Thursday night.

Last night, I played the game Quelf with some friends until very late.  I wish I had more to tell about, but it was a pretty uneventful week.  I head home on Wednesday- I can’t believe I’m almost finished with my freshman year of college- it doesn’t feel like it’s been that long!

Have a wonderful weekend and week!

Planting Seeds + A Weekend Home

This past weekend, I went home once again.  It was weird to be home two weekends in a row.  Although I did not get much sleep over the weekend, it was certainly nice to be home.  Friday night, my mom and sister went to a mother-daughter party at a friend’s house, so my dad and I went out for dinner, which is something we rarely do.  It was nice to sit and talk for quite awhile (and eat some good food).  Then Saturday morning, I went with my sister to get her alterations done for prom.  The alterations were done at our local fabric shop, so I also looked around at the beautiful fabrics.

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My mom’s one request while I was home was to start peppers and tomatoes inside in preparation for our garden.  Although we have plastic containers for this task, we decided to use the many old egg cartons we have saved over the year instead.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn case you’re wondering how to do this, I figured I would share the (very easy) steps.  First, you want to tear the egg carton in half as shown above.  If you want, you can cut off any excess that’s on the sides.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThen, you fill each of the holes up a little over halfway with potting soil.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANext, place one seed in each circle (some people put two seeds in and then thin to just one plant, but we didn’t want to bother with that later on, so we just did one seed).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThen fill each hole up to the top and lightly water. And you’re all set!  Really easy, right?

After planting our seeds, I decided I should go on a run.  I forgot that I haven’t been doing any hills while at college (it’s pretty flat here, but not at home), and almost died, but I made it up the hill to my grandparents’ and visited for a short while.

Saturday night was spent hanging out with my best friends from high school- we didn’t get to sleep until about 4 AM, then got up early that morning.  I’m still recovering from the lack of sleep.  Sunday morning, my family went to church, and then we returned home to start our Easter dinner.  We considered not making a dinner because it was just the four of us, but my sister insisted that we have a full meal.  Once the ham was in the oven, we decided to go for a hike up on the hill.  It started raining just before we got back to the truck.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter a delicious dinner, I snuggled up on the couch until it was time to return to college.  I have to keep reminding myself that it’s less than 2 weeks until break- I cannot wait!