An Update from April & May

Summer has arrived! The change of seasons from spring to summer this year also brings a lot of life changes during my third and final year as a Peace Corps volunteer in Moldova. A lot has happened over these past 2 months as time has been flying by rapidly. If I were to share the highlight reel from these past 2 months, this is what it would include:

Vacationing on an Island

In April, instead of staying in Moldova for the Easter holiday, a few friends and I went away for a week-long vacation to the island of Cyprus. It was an incredible time and an amazing place to explore. I would highly recommend traveling there and would love to return some day.

To note: while we were away, Moldova experienced a crazy unexpected spring snowstorm that dropped many inches of snow on the capital city. It crippled the city for 2 days and shut down public transportation. Over 3,000 trees were destroyed in this storm and when we returned from vacation we were greeted with a number of areas still trying to clean up the debris and downed power lines from the storm.

 

Team Building in the Mountains

Once I returned sun-kissed from vacation in Cyprus, the following weekend I found myself backpacking through the Carpathian mountains with my colleagues from Tekwill. We ventured through the rain, fog, and snow as we got to know one another better and learned what it takes when you take 20+ people together through the mountains with a variety of different hiking skill levels.

 

Technovation Moldova Finishes the 2017 Season

This was my third year to participate as a mentor and part of the organizing team with Technovation Challenge Moldova. Technovation is a global competition that encourages young girls to learn and develop entrepreneurial and technical skills by creating a business plan and mobile app that solves a problem in their community. At the beginning of May, we held the Official National Pitch Event where 9 teams from all over Moldova pitched their projects and one team was selected to go onto the semi-final virtual judging round. I started out mentoring 2 teams this year, one junior team and one senior team. The senior team successfully completed their project by the deadline and was able to compete at the pitch event. My host sister from pre-service training 2 years ago was a part of this team and it was a great honor to be able to mentor her team for this year as we all learned so much together.

 

Rails Girls launches 3rd edition

I was super excited to play a behind the scenes role in seeing the 3rd edition of Rails Girls Chisinau happen in Moldova. It was such a great honor and opportunity to see my friend Alisa as the new coordinator take on this role and see things come together so that more girls could learn basics of the Ruby on Rails framework.

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Nineteen girls successfully completed the 3rd edition of Rails Girls Chișinău! Many of these girls were introduced to the Ruby on Rails framework for the very first time and created websites by the end of the three weekends of workshops.

 

When a Friend Visits Moldova

 

My friend, Anne-Lise from France whom I had met about 7-8 years ago while she was studying/working at Penn State came to visit me for a week here in Moldova. Although I had to work on different projects during this time, we still were able to get in some fun during her stay. I am happy to report that she survived the public transportation, last minute adventures and changes in plans, and experienced the ins and outs of life as a PCV in Moldova.

 

I’ll be sharing more soon especially answering the “what is next?” question that has been coming up a lot over this past year. Details are still getting worked out — more to come soon!

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An End of Year Wrap Up [November & December 2016]

Farewell 2016, it’s been real. Let’s finish it off with a recap from November & December. It’s been a whirlwind couple of months full of memorable moments and adventures.

I did some exploring around the city and saw an incredible sunset,  we celebrated my host nephew’s 2nd birthday and gathered together with friends to celebrate and share traditions of Thanksgiving.

The main organization I’m working with hosted both Startup Week and Startup Weekend  all in one long week and I got the opportunity to participate in a few sessions and meet some new people.

Then December rolled around and once again, I participated in Dressember. This being the 4th year I’ve participated, I tried something new this year and did it by alternating between two different dresses for the whole month.

Early in December, I was able to travel with some friends to visit Iasi, Romania for an overnight trip. It was a great little adventure away to change up the routine and scenery. Then, shortly after that trip I celebrated my 34th birthday.

 

December also brought a fun and festive spirit as the city center was decorated with an abundance of holiday lights.

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I also had a great opportunity to do a workshop about Mobile Apps in a nearby village. Later that day a friend and I did some fun exploring in that community.

 

A quick visit to Balti was in order before the holidays to visit my host family and some friends as we celebrated the holiday season a little early with an incredible meal along with good hospitable company.

To wrap it all up, as I had shared in my previous post, I made a surprise visit home to celebrate Christmas and New Years with family and friends.

Cheers to the 2017 new year ahead!

A joy-filled July

This past month of July has been quite full of travels and transitions.

On the 4th of July I celebrated the holiday with my host family by making burgers. I had to get creative as it was too hot to use the oven, so I made them on the stovetop. I got the nod of approval, even with the improvisation.

The new Peace Corps trainees finished up their second month of training in July and I got to meet many of them during various trainings I implemented and panels I participated in.


I said more goodbyes to PCV friends as they rang the bell to finish their 2 years of service.


There was a send off party hosted by UN Women for the girls who attended the Technovation World Pitch Summit in San Francisco before they left.


Then there was the quick trip to San Francisco for the Technovation training for the new Master Educator program training during the World pitch summit.


When I returned to Moldova, I had 2 weeks to say more goodbyes to volunteers, do a few more trainings, and to pack up all my stuff from my host family’s home. But before all the “packing-up-my-life” chaos began I went to the village house with my host family to relax and take a break before things got too crazy.


It took me about 2-3 days to go through everything from the past 2 years and to prepare it for the move to the capital city. Plus I had to prepare my bag for going home as well. It’s amazing to see how easy it is to accumulate so much stuff in a short amount of time.


On my final evening in Balti with my host family we had a little celebration with some of my favorite foods and my host dad pulled out the accordion and sang a song about me leaving.


My heart is full as I am incredibly grateful for the past 2 years with my host family in Balti. We experienced a lot of ups and downs and life as it is…full of messiness and complicated situations. We’ve seen one another at our best and worst and I wouldn’t trade them. They’ve taught me a lot about life and have become some of my biggest encouragers and part of my support system here in Moldova. My Peace Corps service would not be the same without them.

I’ve left for special home leave where I’ll be gone for 30 days to spend time with family and friends in PA. You won’t be hearing from me much in August as I’ll be taking a needed break. I’ll be returning to Moldova in September where I will continue my Peace Corps service for a 3rd year but with a new primary organization and location. I’ll share more then, but until then enjoy the rest of your summer!

La revedere!