What’s happening at work

Well, I’m back at site now and I’m trying to hit the ground running at work again…but it’s really been more of a slow jog.  Meanwhile, I realized that I don’t usually write in-depth about what’s going on at work.  I won’t bore you with ALL the details, but here are some general updates.

Center Regional Development Agency:

First, I’m working on creating a mission and some organizational goals and objectives for the agency.  To start this process, I put together some surveys on Google docs (one of my favorite web resources, and one that I hope to help my colleagues learn how to use) and sent them out to my colleagues.  One of the surveys asks each staff member to list their responsibilities at the agency so that I can get a better feel for who does what, and the other has a list of questions relating to the creation of a mission for the agency and some questions that will help us conduct a SWOT analysis of the organization.  The agency itself is young (founded in 2009), but it’s fairly developed with 15+ paid staff members and detailed legal regulations in place stipulating how the agency should operate.  The Agency operates under the supervision of the Ministry of Regional Development & Construction (the national government body that oversees all three regional development agencies) and there is a SWOT analysis for each development region, but not for the Agency itself.  Nor do they have an official, written mission.  I have some ideas about activities the agency could organize, but first I need to understand their mission, goals and current responsibilities, which is why I put together the surveys.

Second, I’m hoping to start working on some communication tools for international investors/aid organizations.  What I noticed when USAID representatives came to visit the agency is that the agency doesn’t really have any written material explaining the project application/approval process.  (Our agency is responsible for helping facilitate regional development projects in the central region of Moldova.  Local and regional government offices submit applications annually to our office, we review the applications and pass along all eligible projects to the Regional Development Council, who then sends the applications to a national committee.)  That said, we are a government organization, but the agency was founded in a way that allows it to receive donations from international investors, in additional to the funds it receives from the national government.  What I’d like to do is put together some go-to communication tools in English (because that’s the language people often do business in) that the agency could refer to when working with international investors/aid organizations.

Aside from that, I observe a lot, translate documents into English, attend meetings, drink tea with my colleagues, and ask a lot of questions.

Outside the Agency:

  • One of my colleagues at the Agency helps run a nonprofit organization/website for young journalists in our district (IaloveniOnline.md).  I spoke with him last week about maybe helping with a workshop, creating some kind of cross-cultural exchange via video with journalism students in the U.S., or organizing a project together.  I’ve got some ideas in mind, but I’m going to put down some thoughts on paper before we begin more discussion.  We’ll see how it all pans out.
  • I’ve also gotten involved with a magazine written by Peace Corps volunteers in Moldova, for Peace Corps volunteers in Moldova.  Might as well put my journalism skills to use!
  • This weekend I’ll attend an information session about Moldova TiP, a group formed by Peace Corps to help combat/address human trafficking issues in Moldova.  Looking forward to learning more about that.
All of this said, my primary goal in carrying out projects is really to figure out where the needs are in my community, and that can take time.  I’m living in a relatively developed area in Moldova, which doesn’t mean there isn’t work to do, it just means that the opportunities for projects might not be as obvious at first.  Additionally, sometimes the projects we think they need, or the processes we use in the States, aren’t relevant or useful in Moldova (cliche 1: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it).  Maybe I think the office needs a calendar, but if none of the Moldovans use it once it’s there, what’s the point?  Is it something they really needed in the first place?
Furthermore, Peace Corps has a strong commitment to sustainable development, something I feel strongly about as well.  The goal is to train people how to do things, not just do it for them (cliche 2: give a man a fish, feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime).  It can be easy to just take the reigns and do things the way we do them in the states, but the goal is to work side-by-side with Moldovans to make things happen.  It’s a two-way learning experience; it’s an exchange of knowledge.
That said, I want to be selective in terms of the projects I get involved with and ask a) does this truly meet the needs of the community, and b) does this project have a component of sustainability?