Friday, August 14, 2009

It's Official!

To the kind people of Romania, the Peace Corps' entire administrative staff, our superb language instructors, and my gazda family here in Targoviste,

Today is a day for all of us to look toward the future. A day for reflection on what we have accomplished. And as we stand on the threshold of a promising time, we take notice of our supporters, the Romanian people, who have welcomed us warmly into their country.

Peace Corps Romania is a unique and wonderful opportunity for both our people and yours. Still, for some of us, this day holds a special meaning, one that has shaped our decisions and motivated our desires since we can remember.

In 1961, when John F. Kennedy proposed the inception of this organization, we were children, not yet aware of the impact that our participation could have. The years went by and we learned about ourselves, became adults, had our disappointments and celebrated our successes. We lost and sacrificed and changed and earned and all the while we were gaining wisdom, experience, compassion, and understanding of what it meant to be alive in this era. Some of us became parents, even grandparents, and further we could know the unique joy of this hope for the future.

We lived the "Age of Aquarius", the birth of color television, the first man on the moon, the chaos of the 60's, the assassinations of our most prominent leaders, the Vietnam War, the technological revolution, supersonic air travel, "fast food nation", a booming economy, the dream of an education, and the ability to travel widely and often.

Now we admit that our journeys have not ended. We take all that we have learned and known and travel onward to begin our volunteer service in Romania. We are proud of our heritage, we are humbled by the privilege of the daunting tasks before us. We leave behind beloved friends and families; we accept our fate and answer our calling many years in the making.

We thank you for all that you have given to us already and also for all that we will share with you during the next two years of our lives. We have prepared for this moment in earnest and we are part of the last of the Kennedy generation of Peace Corps volunteers who will go abroad to be of service to others in a foreign nation.

We are fortunate to be here now on the brink of the 50th anniversary of the US Peace Corps and we will always be grateful to have been born in such an auspicious time. We look ahead to our days in Romania and when our service ends, we will say once again, "The Best is Yet to Come!"

Natalie Montanaro
US Peace Corps

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Land of Bread and Honey

What can I tell you about Brusturoasa?

Once I had a dream that I was in the old world, and the sound of the train crept by like a whisper in the starriest of nights along the cool and clean river. And in that dream there was laughter, green fields of colorful wildflowers and red fruit, vines that hung low and high along fences made of seasoned wood, birds that flew overhead into the sunset and the horsecarts' wheels made time with the clop, clop, clop of a stately animal with a long, golden mane.

This was the dream that I dreamt of "times gone by" and I realized it this week when I saw my new home for the next two years. Every person that I met, either down the road, in the church, at the school where I will teach, and among my gazda family, each of them, were welcoming, curious, anxious, and full of wishes for our time together.

I slept well for the first time in a while and I knew that this was a place that I could call home. The town is small and the people have much to do. There are holidays, birthdays, weddings and funerals in the tradition of a true Romania. There is peacefulness and fresh air. The mountains lie right behind the house where I will live, complete with a large working garden and animals that sustain the property. There are two dogs, a horse, many chickens, roosters, and turkeys, five pigs, and two cows. We will eat branza cured in fir tree bark, sip homemade palinka and elderflower tea, and admire all the freshness there that will grace our table. And I will be fortunate enough in time to bear witness to the beauty of many seasons of cultivation. There will be very cold winters, lots of cultural diversions, and a short spring and summer, yet days that hold surprises in nature around every corner, and hopes for a wonderful Peace Corps service with a multitude of possibilities.

Just another day in Paradise

Just another day in Paradise

To Welcome Me to the Biserica


We have surely arrived!

I'm Going to Brusturoasa!

I'm Going to Brusturoasa!
Can't Wait to Meet My New Neighbors

My Wonderful Gazda Family!

My Wonderful Gazda Family!
On the Way to the Party on the 4th