Friday was a big day for us. Friday, we said goodbye to the host families we’ve been staying with, loaded our baggage onto a minibus and proceeded to the capital for our swearing-in ceremony. After eight weeks of language and technical training, we swore in as official Peace Corps Volunteers and our two-year service clock officially started ticking. Following the ceremony, we gathered our belongings and proceeded to our permanent sites with our new host families. Like I said, it was a big day.
First, I want to write a post solely about my host family during training.
As I said to my host family when I left, I don’t want to say goodbye. They were wonderful, hospitable, and invited me into their family and home with open arms. I felt so grateful and so blessed to be a part of their family for two months.
The first weekend we arrived in Moldova, my host family took me to lunch at a crepe restaurant with their family friends. The night before I left, that same family was over at our house, and it was a moment of realization for me. I realized how much language I’ve actually learned, how long it’s been since I first arrived, and how much I’ve adapted to a new routine and new culture. And, listening to the back and forth conversation, my host mom explained to their friends that I’ve become a part of their family. And I just felt so touched.
The next day, as I’m lugging my things outside, they noticed my cross necklace was tarnished, and offered for me to wear one of their necklaces. I said no, I couldn’t, and I won’t be back until September (we have a another two weeks of training then, and we’ll be staying with the same families) – can they really wait that long to get it back? And they said no, Jennifer, it’s yours! And then my host mom brings up the mug I’d been using to drink tea and coffee and says I should take it with me. Again, I just felt so touched by their generosity.
I also have to mention, I have two wonderful parents in the States that took the initiative to purchase gifts for my host family and send them to me. There were a couple of things I had requested the send to me, and they went ahead and found some great items for me to give to my family. For my host brothers, they sent two Arizona t-shirts, they sent lots of nail polish for my host sisters (I got a couple of fantastic manicures from my host sisters in the two months I was there), tea and cookies for my host parents, a new game of Uno for me to leave with the family, and two Arizona shot glasses (my host dad loves to drink vodka when he has guests over). My family loved, loved, loved the gifts—my host mom was hugging me even before I finished giving everything out. The next day my host mom asked if I could Skype my parents so that she could say thank you. It was so wonderful to be able to give something back to them, and I have to thank my mom and dad in SUA (USA) for that one.
All of that said, it was sad to leave them, but I’m so thankful to have a “family” and a “home” here in Moldova. And I’m not far from them now, so I can visit often. In fact, I plan to return at the end of August for my oldest host sister’s 20th birthday! I hope to eventually feel the same way with my new host family. Ialoveni, here I come!