I’ll never forget the events that transpired last Friday. Moldova has been an independent country since 1991, following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Over the last 20 years, it has struggled to find its identity, and has endured great economic hardship. Institutional corruption has impeded growth, and has created a largely depressed, yet apathetic population. Perhaps the most emblematic example of Moldovan sentiment, is the classic Moldovan song, “asta-i viata mea”, which means Thats My Life, and describes life as a perpetual cycle of work all day, and drinking in the evening; with the chorus proclaiming, “Thats my life, I like it”.
Slowly, but surely, there are those in Moldova who wish to modernize, reduce corruption, and possess a desire for Moldova to finally meet its potential. I had met many of these people in the past, but never in my life had I witnessed such an overwhelming outpour of hope for change, as I did last Friday in Chisinau, Moldova.
Last Friday, on March 11th, 2011, the Vice President of the United States of America, came to Moldova.
You know, had I still been in the US, catching this bit of news on the television whilst flipping through the channels, I most likely would not have thought twice about the event. It wouldn’t have been because I didn’t care; rather, because it wouldn’t have occurred to me how much a Vice Presidential visit would mean to a country. Prior to the event, I figured there would be a couple thousand attendees, the Vice President would give a speech, and we’d call it a day. What I saw, however, was far from just that.
I arrived at the event, and found thousands of people, as far as the eye could see, waiting to hear their guest from the United States, and possibly catch a glimpse. There were young people, old people, men and women, professionals and laborers; it became quickly apparent that the highest ranking US official to ever come to Moldova, was drawing quite the interest.
To be quite honest, seeing the Vice President is not what makes the event so memorable to me. Hearing thousands of Moldovan citizens applauding the Vice President’s declaration of support to the Moldovan people, his cry for the elimination of institutionalized corruption and the empowerment of women, and the emphasis on maintaining and supporting democratic values, all made me proud to be an American Peace Corps volunteer. There are those out there that demonize the United States’ foreign policy, and I can certainly say that we are not perfect; however, I will undoubtedly be proud to have served a country that took the time, money, and good-will to send us volunteers to countries all across the world, to impart our skills and experience, and to help empower a people to put the future of their country in their own hands.
I’ll never forget Friday, March 11, 2011
Click Below for photos of the event, and video of the Vice President’s speech