30 Days Straight: #12

– Lost out on the apartment. My Peace Corps manager, who handles contract discussions with property owners, informed me that the landlord was charging at minimum 1,500 lei per month for rent alone. My rent is fixed at 700 lei. Not to mention utilities would add anywhere between 500-1,900 lei to the monthly billing throughout the year. In total I receive between 4,000-6,000 lei per month so I cannot afford to have my housing be worth 50% of my salary. I have already signed a contract for a 3 room house, but as I have mentioned earlier the conditions are not optimal. I was bummed out when I heard the news, however this is all part of the challenge of being a PCV. Things normally do not work out as I would expect but I have continued to take the negative in stride and have rolled with the punches. There will be a lot to learn from this opportunity of taking care of a house. It will be the first time where staying warm will not be as easy as flicking a switch. Cleaning clothes will have to be done by hand. Buying gas tanks to start the grill in the kitchen will also be part of the process. Certainly, there could be other problems that pop up. Rodent problems and water damage are not out of question. I only hope that I am able to solve these problems before they magnify and to stay healthy and secure throughout it all. It will be nice to have a place of my own, I just do not know how hard this will be yet. The only alternative would be if the apartment landlord lowers his price due to a lack of demand. Even still, he is probably not going to cut his selling price in half.

– I was assigned to be Marketing Director of the 20th Anniversary Peace Corps event this August. A group of volunteers and I are setting up an event that will be similar to TedTalks’ events (which I am highly fond of) where we will invite volunteers from years 1 to  20 to speak about their experiences and different topics related to serving in Moldova. The event has not been coordinated and the storyline remains unwritten but we have gathered a group of about 8 volunteers to put this whole thing together. I am really excited to get cracking on this project and to send a positive message to Moldovans, new volunteers, and other invitees at the event. We start brainstorming together and gathering ideas March 1st so wish us luck and drop us suggestions if they come to mind.

– If you are not afraid to cry you will not be afraid to do anything.

– Perfectionists are scared to fail, which consequently makes them average. They want to do everything by themselves because they are under the impression that by asking for help they are demonstrating weakness and that they are capable of finishing something single-handedly. What is true is that they may finish but it is not the most effective route to take. I am shedding a lot of bad habits during this growth period and one of them is my fight against being wrong. I have begun asking people for advice on my work, allowing for others to challenge my opinion while not getting heated, permitting constructive criticism, thinking before reacting, and searching for proofreaders before I press submit. What I have realized is that the final product is always better than the original and that in return people are more willing to ask me for the same help. It is an empowering practice. I used to always take ownership of everything I did and not ask for assistance but I have realized it is not the way to go. You can learn more by exhibiting vulnerability. It does not knock you down at all, it only adds to your knowledge base and flatters the individuals you are consenting.

– I was invited to drink soy milk with my hair stylist… what do you wear to such an occasion?

– Submitted our community project today! Now for multiple revisions tomorrow as I received a plethora of feedback from the SPA Grant Committee Director within two hours after submission. The due date for the project is March 14th.

– I thought about being back in Chicago during the time of the Peace Corps panel discussions at the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2010. RPCVs would speak one after one discussing their service experiences in the two hour sessions. I remember always grabbing a seat somewhere in the middle and bringing a pad of paper and pen. I would sit back and listen, taking notes occasionally. I would get completely lost in their stories and imagine being in their shoes. It gave me chills. No running water. No electricity. Reading a book in the desert. Not speaking the native language. Missing home. I carry all those feelings with me here in Moldova. Anytime I feel bad, tired, or lonely I think about those people I envied at UIC in the summer and winter of 2010. I push myself to represent all of those speakers who put in the 2 years and 3 months of hardship and triumph. I do it for our country to serve as role model for what our nation represents and to give back for all of which it has provided me. I do it to get stronger and to learn on a daily basis. One day I would like to return to Chicago and stand in front of a group of strangers and retell my version of the story that I am currently creating. The one about the boy from Skokie, Illinois who had a tons of minute struggles and successes that snowballed into one complete experience. It is good that I have this reference to check myself from time to time. Without it I would not be half as motivated as I currently am.

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