What We Know

Peace Corps tells us that we will learn about ourselves andwhat it means to be an American during our time as a volunteer.  I have always been intrigued by how and whypeople decide what is essential for a human being to know.  I mean, is it important to know how manyplanets are in the solar system?  Maybe,but if so, what purpose does this serve? Will I live longer if I know this piece of information (forget the factthat scientists cannot make up their mind about what qualifies as aplanet)?   Probably not, but most peoplewould agree that an educated person would know the answer to thisquestion.  Anyway, before I really startbabbling here, my point is that culture really influences what we know and howwe acquired certain pieces of information. Last weekend I was sitting on the couch watching Euronews when my hostmother walked into the room and asked me if I could open a medicine bottle forher.  I took the bottle, pressed down onthe top with my right hand, and turned it open with my left hand.  I handed the opened bottle back to my hostmother who stood there in complete amazement. “How in the world could I have opened so easily” was the expressionwritten on her face.  Well, my friends,because in Americamost medicine bottles have child-proof lids and that is how we open them.  We immediately know whether a top or lid ischild-proof without having to examine the bottle closely or read the directionsabout how to remove it.  Somehow we just“magically” know how to deal with such things. After my host mother got over her shock, she asked how I opened it andthen I proceeded to teach her how for the next five minutes.  It was difficult at first because I did notknow the verb for “to push” in Russian, but through the miracle ofinternational sign language she figured out what I was trying to explain.  (I now know the verb “to push” after lookingit up in my handy dandy Oxford pocketdictionary.  One would think I would havealready know this verb since it would likely be written on doors all over Moldova,but Russians write what is translated as “from you” and “to you” to indicatewhether a door should be pushed or pulled. And you wonder why I always say I will never figure this language out!)

Speaking of the television and things in Moldova,I must admit that I used to regularly watch Russian MTV.  It, unlike the American version, actually playsmusic videos.  I still love crappyAmerican pop music, but I was beginning to develop a taste for Russian pop musicas well.  Some of the Russian pop songs arecatchy even if the artists are not very talented.  Sounds like American pop stars, right?  (Jeanne, I am having flashbacks to hearing“Pony” at Rosie’s!!!!)  Russian MTV alsolets people send in text messages that are displayed at the bottom on the screenas the music videos play.  While some ofthe music videos are in English, I felt as though I was always learningsomething when I was watching it because I could watch the scrolling messagesand learn new words and practice grammar. Not only did I learn a million ways to express my love for mynon-existent boyfriend, but I learned that Katya D. from Moscow loves Igor P.and that she cannot live one more day without him so would he please hurryhome!”.  One day I was eagerly readingabout and being jealous of people’s love lives while enjoying my oatmealbreakfast and the next day there was no more Russian MTV.  I have no idea what happened, but MTV hasdisappeared from my host family’s television. I feel like a toddler for admitting this, but I am slightly annoyed bythis.  I WANT MY (RUSSIAN) MTV BACK!

On to more serious things. The two non-profit organizations I work with in Ceadir-Lunga,“Integration” and “Women’s Initiative,” helped organize a benefit concert for alocal boy who needs heart surgery.  Hisfamily cannot pay for the operation or for the trip to Russiawhere the surgery will take place since there are no such specialists in Moldova.  When the idea of having a benefit concert was first suggested I was a bit skeptical because fundraising it not an idea thatis very well understood here, but I figured that we should give it a try.  I mean, if we could get musicians and singersto volunteer their talent and the mayor’s office would let use the “House ofCulture” for free, why not give it a try? I was absolutely shocked at the concert last Sunday when 200 plus peopleshowed up.  Not only were people willingto pay the 10 Lei (85 cents) ticket price, but many of them also donated acouple of extra lei just because.  OHMIGOD,fundraising works here!  Unfortunately,this boy’s family still has quite a bit of money to raise to cover the costs,but this concert certainly did make a dent in the total amount of money theyneed.  This event was definitely one ofthe highlights of my time in Moldovasince I saw people coming together to raise money for a very worthwhilecause.  I was, sniff, sniff, very proudof the Ceadir-Lungans last Sunday.  I didnot understand most of the music because it was either too fast or in alanguage that I have not yet conquered (Ukrainian, Bulgarian, or Gagauzian),but it was certainly worth attending.


On a completely random note, I am interested to know exactlyhow many watermelons I can consume in one month since I now eat themeveryday.  YUM!  Watermelons here are shaped like a sphere andare about the size of youth soccer ball (see below).  They are much easier to carry and cut thanthe kind we usually buy in the States. For some reason that I do not understand, watermelons grew very wellthis year and the price has recently fallen to 3 Lei per kilogram.  So every afternoon I eat about ¼ of awatermelon because at that price, who can resist a cold, juicy watermelon?  August is not a third over the way over and Iam already on my fourth watermelon.  Atthis rate, I might have consumed 15 of these suckers by the end of themonth.  (Mathematics is not my forte, butsometimes I like watermelon for dessert too.) My host mother is probably not thrilled with the fact that I always havea watermelon chilling in the refrigerator, but she uses the entire freezer so Ithink it is a fair deal.  Even if she didnot use all of the space in the freezer, I don’t think I would want to putanything in there anyways.  Look at thepicture below and then ask yourself if you really blame me.  Bon appetite!




2007-08-10 09:17:06


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