So, its half-way through December, and I realize I haven’t posted anything on the ol blog. Based on the average of about 4-5 site visits a day I get, I can tell you all are getting anxious. I won’t keep you waiting, so read on:
Last Thursday, I partook in slaughtering the family pig. I didn’t do any of the killing, but I did use a flamethrower. I’m skipping the story, as it was a pretty graphic affair. I have a ton of pictures, and anyone may contact me directly to see them.
Moving right along, last weekend I went to the capital city, Chisinau, for a Hanukkah / Christmas party. Seeing as though I’m the only Jewish guy in my program, it was really more of a Christmas party. Now, that is not to say the party consisted of singing carols or anything else you’d typically find at the average Christmas party; but considering one of our volunteers, Bob, dressed up like Santa Claus…
We proceeded to have a secret gift exchange, and I somehow ended up with a Dallas Cowboys, Tony Romo Jersey. Seriously? I was born in Washington D.C., which means I grew up a Redskins fan. I went to high school in New Jersey, which means I am a Giants fan. Somehow, at a gift exchange in Moldova, I end up with the jersey of a quarterback from my least favorite team in the NFL. No, wait, I take that back. If I’d gotten a Tom Brady, of the New England Patriots, jersey, I’d have been even more disappointed. Thanks Travis & Sarah, for your incredibly thoughtful gift :-).
The rest of the weekend was great, and the relaxation was exactly what I needed, to gear me up for yesterday. What happened yesterday, you ask? Well, I suppose a little introduction to the project is in order.
The national government of Moldova, alongside UNIFEM (United Nations Development Fund for Women), and sponsored by the government of Sweden, is developing a new project, The Joint Information & Services Bureau. Each Bureau, will operate under the Raion Council (Regional government), and will consist of specialists from every department at the regional government level, and eventually, representatives from important NGOs and the private sector. The point of the Bureau is to provide a central location for beneficiaries to go ask questions. If they need to ask another department a question, they may do so at a different table, in the same location. While, this seems like a simple concept, there are considerable issues to deal with, in the designing and implementing of a program of this magnitude. Below, you will find a video that outlines the purpose of the Bureau. Much of the video was filmed in my town, and at my Raion Council, and you’ll notice that my partner, Tatiana, is featured briefly. Our Raion Council, where I work, is one of three Raions participating in the pilot portion of this project.
So, yesterday, was the first workshop for this project. At approximately 9:30 a.m., in walk the Ambassador of Sweden, and the representatives from UNIFEM…in my office. Needless to say, I was pretty excited about the workshop, at that point. We had a brief discussion about work we are doing, as well as the project itself. Next, I found myself at the workshop, watching representatives from the Ministry, at the national level of Moldova, and other people involved with the project, standing up and introducing themselves. Well, as you might have guessed, it would eventually be my turn to introduce myself. I was beyond nervous, as I was going back and forth in my mind, debating whether to introduce myself in English, or in Romanian. It was finally my turn to speak, and I had worked up the nerve to do so in Romanian….
Ma numesc Yoel Malashock, si eu sint voluntar din america, in programul Corpul Pacii. Acum, eu lucrez aici in Singerei la Sectia Asistentia Sociala, si ma bucur sa am oportunitate sa ajut cu acesta program. (My name is Yoel Malashock, and I am a volunteer from America, in the Peace Corps program. Now, I work here in Singerei at the Section of Social Assistance, and I am glad to have the opportunity to help with this program).
I got a frickin round of applause!
I guess it isn’t often that you hear an American, in Moldova, speaking Romanian, with a decent accent… if I don’t say so myself ;-).
In any case, I could go on about the details of the workshop, my part in developing the project, etc., but this blog post is too long as it is. I’ll save more for next time.
Feel free to leave comments about thoughts, criticisms, and even ideas, in regard to the Joint Information & Services Bureau!