Jurnalista a scris minciune
I was interviewed several weeks ago for a Chisinau newspaper. I had given up on the article being published until I received e-mails and phone calls from two Peace Corps staff members Tuesday thanking me for the kind words I said about their country. Here is the article, which I translated into English. The Romanian can be found atВ http://www.jurnal.md/articol.php?id=3917&cat=&editie=425 .
"You know how to be happy even without money"
An interview with Peter Myers, an American volunteer with the Peace Corps.
by Irina Nechit, Jurnal de Chisinau. October 25, 2005
How old are you, Peter Myers?
I am 22 years old. I was born in Chicago, and my parents currently live in California.
How did you arrive in the Republic of Moldova?
I studied at the School of Journalism at Boston University, but after three years of studies I got the sense that journalism was not my vocation. A family friend asked me if I would like to work with the USA's Peace Corps and I accepted. [Translator's note: Yeah, it was just that easy.] When the Peace Corps asked me to go to Moldova as a volunteer, I asked, "Where is Moldova?" because I had never heard anything about the country until then. I searched on the Internet and saw that it existed!
Where did you learn Romanian?
At summer school in Costesti, Ialoveni, sponsored by Peace Corps Moldova. I arrived in Costesti in June 2005 and started to study Romanian with a very effective program. [Translator's note: I had to look up two words in this paragraph. Guess whether I used them in my interview.] After two months I had learned to communicate. I'm happy that I can speak with you in Romanian today. Right now, there are 150 American volunteers in Moldova. I will stay in Mereseni for two years, teaching children English.
Do you feel isolated from the civilized world?
Yes, but I feel that here, people live a more normal life, more natural than in technologically advanced countries. In the West and in America, life stresses you out; you are always tense. But in Moldovan towns, the rhythm of life is closer to nature and easier to tolerate. I don't feel isolated from the world, but to the contrary, I feel more connected to it.
[I feel an entire paragraph of explanation is necessary here. Her question was the same, but my answer was completely different. I said that while I am isolated from my friends and family, I am living a life that is more common in the world, and that is an experience that I'm grateful for. We in the West and in America are exceptions right now, and it is important for us to not assume that everyone else lives the way we do. Everything that is said about life being more natural and the Western world being stressful is all symptomatic of the same false Moldovan pride that has our English textbooks saying that Moldova is famous world-wide for its beautiful hills, wine, and delicious well water. I like Moldova, but it is important to separate fact from fiction.]
Do you like your accommodations in Moldova?
Yes! I live with the Vremea family, and I have my own room. We don't have hot water from the faucet, but I pour water by myself into a pot and heat it on the stove. [The way this conversation went down was so much funnier than how she wrote it. Plus, I rarely heat my own water; I would if I woke up before everyone else.] Houses in Mereseni are big, there's lots of room, and there's a lot of greenery. In California I lived in an apartment building, and I forgot the comfort of a house. [What?] I like that I'm awakened every morning by the birds. I like dogs in Mereseni; they are very different from American ones. [I said that Moldovans treat their dogs differently than Americans do, not that the dogs were different.]
Have you seen the difficulty that Moldovans have in surviving?
Yes, but you have a fundamental quality; you know how to be happy without money. Here people don't suffer too much if they don't have money. They are happy even if they're poor.
What feelings do you have about teaching as a career?
I like it! The children listen to me; I have very interesting conversations with them. I was at the harvest for a week and spoke with them only in English. The students told me in English how many buckets of grapes they had collected and I wrote the number in my notebook. You have very tasty grapes in Moldova. [We'll let the part about the kids listening to me slide for now. To say I have interesting conversations with them would be a major stretch, and to say that I spoke with them only in English at the harvest is a complete lie. The part about tasty grapes is another part of that Moldovan pride that I mentioned before, although it is much more true than Moldova being famous for its well water.]
Do you know what the word "homesick" means?
Definitely! [Wow, I must really love exclaiming things.] I miss my parents, my friends and America. It's good that I have Internet here; I can send messages home every once in a while. When I return to America, I will be a teacher. In Mereseni I discovered that I like teaching.
So I would say that while the interview process was good, I would rank the writing somewhere around a Boston University journalism school sophomore in terms of fluidity and accuracy. I know that I represented my ideas clearly, and that the misstatements were the result of reporting, not a language barrier. I hope that I have the opportunity to do radio interviews, where it is harder to take my statements out of context. When I told my host family that I didn't say everything that was written, my host-brother, Sergiu, 27, said that he would call the journalist because a Moldovan should never lie. I told him that journalists lie, so it was okay. Overall, though, I'm happy with my first statements to the press, and if it helps some people feel better about their country, what's wrong with a little bit of white-lie reporting?