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Ialoveni!  In Ialoveni, I’m living with a big family again: a grandma/grandpa (my host mom and dad), their daughter and her husband, and their two precious daughters, who are four and six years old.  They have a big, beautiful garden with raspberries, apples, cucumbers, corn, pears, grapes, tomatoes, and a lot of other foods, some of the names I only know in Romanian because I’ve never had them in the States.

All the bedrooms are off the main entry room, and to get to the indoor kitchen/bathroom you go outside and around the house.  The kitchen and bathroom are currently under repair, so they’re just empty tiled rooms now, but my family says they will soon be finished and beautiful (or “frumos” as they say in Romanian).  I’ll post pictures then!  Right now we use the outside toilet—not sure if that’ll be different when the bathroom is done (families sometimes just use the indoor toilet in the winter…or just for #1 in the winter), but I’ll figure it out then.

The food is delicious—my host mom is a great cook.  Most of what we eat is from their garden and animals (they have chickens and ducks)…so far I’ve eaten lots of chicken, fresh cut vegetables with oil and vinegar, corn, chicken noodle soup, pasta, crepes, placinta de brinza (which I’m pretty sure literally translates to “cheese pie” in English, but it’s amazingly delicious), bread, and cereal with a yogurt-like substance.  I love eating from their garden, and they work hard to maintain it and prepare food.  I feel thankful that they’re willing to share that with me.

Work.  Work!  I’m so excited to begin.  On Saturday, Luma (the other volunteer stationed in my village) and I sat in on a meeting with a youth organization that runs an online newspaper for my town.  (One of the students is going to write a story about us—we’re kind of a big deal?)  But once we got in that meeting, ideas just started rolling and I started to make a “to-do” list of all the things I want to start studying/preparing for work.

My primary organization is the Central Regional Development Agency (adrcentru.md), which is one of three government-funded organizations under the Ministry of Regional Development formed specifically to facilitate development projects in the northern, central and southern regions of Moldova.  As I understand it now, we work to facilitate/fund development projects under the following four domains: clean water, paved roads, waste management and tourism.  I’ll be working with the strategic planning department, sharing ideas and helping to build organizational capacity.  My partner at the agency (the Moldovan who I am paired with during this work process) mentioned an upcoming agency conference, and so I think my duties will include working with their communications specialist to see if I have any new/different ideas and strategies to offer.  I think it will be a fantastic experience, and I can’t wait to learn more about how the organization operates.

Aside from that, we, as Community Organization and Development Volunteers, have the opportunity to pursue other projects.  My partner at the agency already mentioned to me that there are three students looking for an English tutor for the month of August, before they return to school in Romania, so I agreed to meet with them over the next few weeks.  I also would love to work with the youth journalism organization (IaloveniOnline.md, if you want to check it out).  Lots of opportunities – we’ll see how this goes!

Missing home as always; I feel like I experience a range of emotions over the course of just one day.  Keeping busy helps, taking walks is always good, hearing from home helps, and I’ve changed my laptop background to scrolling pictures from home.  My new host nieces also help—they randomly run into my room to give me kisses, hold my hands when they take me to the dinner table and tell me that I’m beautiful and they love me.  How can your heart not feel full after that?  =)

I’ve got my own internet access now, so anyone who wants to Skype, just shoot me a message!

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