Wednesday, May 02, 2007
A German Rotary Club recently sent three of its members – Joachim, Reinhard, and Juergen – to Copceac in order to lay the groundwork for two projects they will be funding. I've been emailing with them over the last couple months to help set things up, and it was nice to finally meet them. The first project will replace many of the old, drafty wood-frame windows in one of the schools with modern, double-pane, plastic-frame ones. The other is a water project, which will connect a well with three water towers that are 2km away. This will greatly increase the water available to the village. At least until I leave for America, I’m to be their eyes and ears on the ground as these projects move forward.
During their visit, I was occasionally surprised by their surprise that someone from America (me) would be living and working in Moldova as a PCV. Over the course of their visit, we talked about a lot of things including the current administration in America. Other than Moldovans, this was the first time I've really discussed America's reputation with Europeans. Although this probably isn't news to the readers of this blog, it was a bit of a shock to me to see first-hand how far America's standing has fallen since the outpouring of sympathy that came following 9/11.
One Rotarian mentioned that he always liked America because following WWII, he remembered receiving packages from the States with good food and nice, warm clothes. Isn't it amazing how those gifts so many years ago helped shape an opinion that has lasted so long? I wonder how long the aid given by the American people to the world will continue to mold opinions in light of current events?
So what does this mean for me and the Peace Corps? I think it makes our work to attain world peace and friendship much more difficult, and perhaps more important, to say nothing of the threat of terrorism. Though there are only a few people in Copceac who think that I am a spy, some of them are good and intelligent people (who unfortunately have the completely wrong idea about my mission). Can you blame them? If I lived in a country that used to view America as its enemy, and at least partly blamed America for the fall of the USSR, and now saw an America that waged unpopular (if not simply unjustified) wars, what would I think if an American showed up in my village with some vague humanitarian goals?