16 October 2009

A Well-Rounded Education

It seems like we've been here for much longer than two weeks. I only say that because it seems like months have passed since we were visiting our families in Michigan or a lifetime ago since we were living quietly in our little house in Illinois. Plus it feels like we've done quite a bit since we've been in Moldova.

Last weekend, we went to Moldova's annual wine festival, which was pretty amazing, and considerably bigger than I had imagined it would be. I had meat-on-a-stick and red wine in a plastic cup, and I got a fair amount of footage for the documentary. In all honesty, I'm not much of a wine drinker, but I can tell you that this was some damn good wine. Moldovans have a right to be proud. This festival was also a great opportunity to see their culture at its finest, in full celebration mode. These are a people that like to enjoy themselves.

Since then, though, it's been kind of grey and rainy, so aside from the photos that I got during intermittent periods of sunshine, in terms of the project, I haven't been all that productive this week. However, I should note that the project is only half the reason that I'm here. Perhaps more importantly, I am also here to experience life in Moldova and to share with the people I meet what it means to be American. Through this blog and through the documentary that I'm working on, I hope to relay my experiences here so that others can gain something from it as well, and this is a responsibility that is to continue indefinitely upon our return to the United States. As I was told at the orientation in D.C. shortly before we left, we are not just scholars, we are cultural ambassadors.

Last week, I met a guy who works at the electronics store down the street who speaks very good English and wants to study hospitality management in the United States. Ever since then, I've been doing some research, trying to figure out how to make his ambitions a reality. I'd love to see this guy be able to study in the U.S., then come back here and be able to apply what he's learned to benefit the rest of Moldova. I firmly believe that education is an investment, not only in the individual, but also in the community at large. Of course, what I don't want to tell this guy is that it was hard for even me to afford my undergraduate studies in the U.S., but then again, I like to think that things are improving in that regard as well, and I don't just say that as someone who wants to teach college for a living.

Next week, I'm supposed to go into the Universitatea de Stat din Moldova and give a guest lecture in an American Studies class about post-war media in the United States. Of course, it also just so happens that I have a significant scholarly interest in the rhetoric of Cold War media and have done a considerable amount of research on the subject. For me, it will be interesting to hear the perspectives of people who grew up on the other side of the fence. Was the "us versus them" mentality that was so pervasive in our culture from the end of World War II to the fall of the Berlin Wall similar to that which was experienced by people growing up under the rule of communism? In what ways did their mass media paint us as the evil empire? I was able to find the entire film of "Atomic Cafe" on YouTube, and I might like to show a few clips of this to help illustrate some of my points. Frankly, though, I think this lecture will be at least as interesting for me as it is for them. I think that's kind of the point.

1 comment:

  1. I'm reading Jamie's blog and now yours. I'm Heather Worthen's Uncle Steve. I like to travel and have always thought that it would be really great to live in a travel destination for awhile. Enough to get an idea of what it is really like to live there. Well at least to be an American living there. I plan of following both of your blogs and won't bother you much since I know you are busy making a documentary. Good luck.
    Steve Hummels