Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Peace Corps: the NEWS!

Many (most?) readers have probably already heard the news, so I won’t bother with much fanfare: I’ve finally received my Peace Corps Invitation, and accepted a placement to serve as a Health Education Specialist in Moldova, deploying June 8!

Having expected my invitation to arrive in mid-January, I’m thankful to finally have it in hand and make it out of balmy winter Chicago before its boring summer scene moves in. Now that the sun has made an appearance the ice is melting off the windows, exposing me to such hardships as vitamin D and the glares of the woman “across the courtyard” (just far enough away to avoid the lethargic 23 year old tarantula Iged, with whom I share my desk). I’ll miss her presence, (the tarantula’s).

I kid because I love, and truly will miss Chicago. But that’s for a future post. Peace Corps: the details.

First off, Moldova is a small country sandwiched between Romania and Ukraine. I’m not mentioning this to be condescending – most people I’ve told so far have had to look at a map. (Worry not dear reader, you aren’t alone…looking at a map is a sign of curiosity, not ignorance. Even if you have to check where Romania and Ukraine are). Moldova is slightly larger than Maryland, and the primary language is Romanian. In fact, it used to be a part of Romania, but after WWII, it was annexed by the Soviet Union. During this period, the official language was Russian, and Romanian (typically written with the Latin alphabet) was written with the Cyrillic (Russian) alphabet. Russian has remained a common (though fading) language in Moldova since its independence from the USSR. A fuller history of Moldova will be coming in a future post.

As a Health Education Specialist, I will work on a Health Education in Schools and Communities (HESC) program. HESC volunteers have a dual placement with both a school and a community health agency or non-governmental organization. My time in the school will be spent teaching health (about 8 hours a week). My role in the community organization is a bid more fluid, but will generally involve assisting the organization’s mission to facilitate community health initiatives, which could include programming as well as capacity building work. The dual school-organization appointment is important in taking a comprehensive approach to improving health in the community, and I’m excited by the possible synergies of the concurrent assignment. Once I’m fully settled at post, I will also take on a “secondary project” of my choosing, though still broadly related to the HESC program. Potential partners include local organizations and initiatives, as well as international organizations working in the area.

The first three months (June to August) will consist of my pre-service training, located just outside of the capital Chisinau. I will likely learn Romanian, and may receive additional instruction in Russian, though for some volunteers, Russian is the primary language. After that, I will report to my “post”, where I will spend the majority of my remaining two years of service. The post and partner organizations will be determined partway through pre-service training.

In the meantime, I have just over three months to prepare. There are a flurry of immediate tasks, after which I’ll have about a 6 week lull before final preparations overtake every waking minute. In this interim, I hope to see and talk to as many of you as possible. I likely won’t have a chance to return to the U.S. during my service, and communication may be limited. Obviously, I’m reviving the ol’ blog, but it’s a supplement, not a replacement, for personal contact. I’ll be in Chicago through mid-May, and then will be moving back to Denver to put my life in storage and make my final preparations. Coloradans be warned: my time to see you all will be hectic.

SO, call/write me now. I may take a few days to respond, but I promise, I want to hear your voice before I depart.

Thank you all for your incredible support you’ve been during this long application process, and La revedere!


Miranda said...

Congratulations on becoming an M25! I'm currently in Moldova as an English Education volunteer. Can't wait to meet you!

KimberlyKs said...

Congratulations! We'll have to get together a few times before we all leave!