It has been Four weeks since my move from the village to Bucharest…what are my thoughts? Where to begin?! As hard as it was to leave the village, it was also time for a change of pace for me and boy o boy did I find a change of pace here in Bucharest! No more fieldwork for me…I now spend my time in-between two offices, delivering training sessions to new volunteers, researching potential EU funds for environmental projects while wandering around my new surroundings, getting lost and then found again.
Fortunately, I have been so busy since my arrival in Bucharest, my transition has been pretty natural. Part of me staying with the Peace Corps for a 3rd and moving to Bucharest is I will also be volunteering with local Romanian organization. I was pretty excited about the opportunity of being able to work with a local organization while in Bucharest and was set on gaining some experience in a new field of interest. I had caught wind that a local Environmental NGO in Bucharest expressed interest in working with a volunteer. I was pretty excited about the idea of working in the Environmental sector and getting some new exposures. After reading their website and having my interview with them I was even more enthusiastic about collaborating with them this next year. It was one of the most professional interviews I have ever had in my life…there were four members of the organization who interviewed me all at once, the interview lasted about an hour and twenty one minutes and over 90% of it was all in Romanian. Long story short, I am starting my second week with MaiMultVerde (www.maimultverde.ro) and I am really enjoying myself. As an organization they develop and implement a variety of environmental projects ranging from tree plantation, creating a bike rental company in downtown Bucharest to trash clean ups on mountain trails. I will be assisting with the projects department. Working on developing and then implementing the projects into the Romanian real world. Actually in two days I will participate in my first project. There is an International Jazz Festival in Garana, Romania…I am not really sure where it is but I know it is in the mountains, which is all I need to know! MaiMultVerde will be implementing a recycling/trash clean up program on the grounds of the festival and I will tag along to help out any way possible…as the Peace Corps motto goes “Peace Corps, the toughest job you will ever love!”
My Peace Corps world has also been going very well. As soon as I arrived in Bucharest, I took off to a neighboring city about 90 kms northwest outside of the city to lend a hand at the training sessions of a new group of volunteers that arrived in country at the end of May. I stayed there for two weeks and had a really great time getting to know the new group while being able to reminisce about the good old days when I was fresh off the airplane stepping into a whole new world. It is interesting being on this side of training. It has also allowed me to do some self-reflection on how far I have come since May 2007. I remember all the little challenges that used to consume so much of my efforts and energy…things like ordering food, buying bus tickets, having a casual conversation with people on the streets. Now those one time challenges are just part of my normal everyday life.
However in other ways, I do feel like I am back where I started two years ago as a brand new volunteer in a new land and new environment. Granted, it is a major plus having two years of Romanian “real world” experience under my belt and not to mention my Romanian language skills. However, I am meeting all new people, adapting to an all-new situation and being exposed to a whole new culture…Romania as I knew from the village’s perspective, has done a complete 180-degree turn upside down. I really am getting a whole new perspective of Romania.
Despite being extremely busy with work, I have still found time to take advantage of all that there is to take advantage of in a capital city like Bucharest. I have had a coffee at Starbucks, talked via skype to a good friend who is Japan (my first ever Skype call…It is amazing and FREE!), bought some new “city” clothes at a mall that would put most American malls to shame, saw Santana in concert on 4th of July, played a game of Ultimate Frisbee, have seen two movies at a cinema and was even able to play a little tennis the other day. One thing that I have not had too much ambition to do is to drink any of the 12 liters of horlinka I received as gifts before I left the village. I wont lie it is kind of nice having a bit of a break from it but it really is not the same having a glass of it outside of the village without the scenery, the food, the smells, the long days of field work and most of all without my good friends and family back there. I have talked to Ion, Angela and the boys just about everyday since I have arrived in Bucharest…sometimes even twice in a day…with the last question before we hang up always being “When are you coming back for a visit?”
Again what a different world I am living in these days, but as always I have a smile on my face, curiosity in my soul and new adventures within reach…S.U.T.W