A Flash of Lightning

I know several people have been waiting for an update, but I’ve been struggling to know what to write about since I arrived in Moldova. I tried to type several posts, but always ended up writing bits that I deemed too personal, too banal, or too long. I’m sure the rest of my blog posts will give detailed accounts of specific events—such as holidays, host family milestones, the woes and wonders of teaching, and taking on new projects—but since it’s hard for me to absorb everything right now, my current post will reflect that state of mind.

Although staging (the few days in which the volunteers met each other for the first time and received basic information about Peace Corps expectations) was useful, it felt too much like an orientation for me to write about it in any truly remarkable manner. I feel similarly about the first few days in Moldova. We stayed in a hotel, saw a traditional Moldovan dance performance, and ate wayyyy too much (amazing!) food. It felt a little like a cultural summer camp. The most important take-away, however, is that I got to know my fellow volunteers, and I am excited to report that they are extremely talented, compassionate, and generous people. I’m honored to be serving beside them for the next two years.

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An example of said yummy food! A plăcintă is comparable to a pie, and can be filled with cheeses, cabbage, or fruits. These particular plăcinte are filled with cherries.

Even though I know I have been in Moldova for two weeks, time feels like its moving in unnatural ways. On the one hand, each day seems like a week in itself. With four hours of language classes in the morning, an hour of travel on a hot minibus, four hours of education training, and trying to socialize with my host family and friends in a foreign language, exhaustion levels are high by the time the sun goes down. On the other hand, the sheer amount of information I have absorbed seems impossible for a two week period.

Time has proven a formidable and tiring storm. It has passed as fast as a lightning strike; yet to a particle of light a flash of lightning probably feels pretty long. In a way, a particle of light–a photon–is a rather apt metaphor for how I’m feeling. Sometimes I feel like a particle, alone but moving forward with a purpose. Sometimes I feel like a wave, trusting the trajectory that’s set out for me. I’m a trainee, but I’m an educator. I’m a recent graduate, but I’m a student again. Sometimes I think very confidently: “I can do this! I’m improving,” and then go home and am disheartened when I still have to mime out what I’m trying to say. I don’t know when or where to go (or where I’m even allowed to go) without direction (or permission, for these first few weeks). I’m in chaotic space in a new and unfamiliar place, yet there is still a structure and order to it all.

When I feel most like a lone photon, I heed the words of my mentor: take it one day at a time. Set a goal for the day and accomplish that. When you accomplish your goal, spend a few moments appreciating your accomplishment. It can be something small like completing 20 flashcards (my goal from today), or something seemingly common, like speaking 3 complete and accurate full sentences to your host family (a goal from earlier this week). I’m building up these small feelings of accomplishment because they have the potential to give me energy when someday I inevitably feel empty and defeated.

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The local church is one of the most beautifully decorated buildings I have ever seen, inside and out.

While this post is little more than a poorly-constructed physics metaphor, it’s the best way that I can summarize the slightly overwhelming feelings of the beginning of my Peace Corps experience. As the training pace quickens and I acquire more and more stories, my posts will become more tangible. I will strive to give an objective perspective of Moldovan culture to those of you reading back home, but I am also aware that it is impossible to do so without imposing my own personal experiences and lens of perspective on everything. My hope is that these more abstract posts will give you an insight into my lens and state of mind, so that you might better understand the perspective through which future information will come. That’s all for now, and I look forward to sharing my experiences with you!


4 thoughts on “A Flash of Lightning

  1. I think this was a great start, Hannah. It’s hard to know how to begin, I’m sure, but this was good. You know we’re thinking about you all the time, and mom and I talk with each other wondering what you are up to. The new countertops are here, and today we paid for them. They are a real improvement over the solid yellow. We’re between church meetings, and I hope the Presbyterian meeting will be more exciting than the Methodists! I’m spoiled from all the fireworks regarding my seminary in the 1970’s! Love you, sweet girl!

    Dad

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  2. Hey photon, while you are there, among your other duties, learn about the Orthodox church, my guess in that area little has changed for 2000 years!! Great pictures! We will save your musings, so you can write your book in two years!!!!

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  3. Everything is overwhelming until it’s not, and at that point you know it is time to move on to something else. I hope you feel overwhelmed for some time – that’s when you are learning the most. : )
    One day at a time is very good advice.
    I’m so proud of you!

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