American Embassy, Mayor of Chisinau, and American dinner party

30 Aug 2016 11:54 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

August 30, Tuesday.  Today we seemed to attract attention everywhere we went in our blue club shirts.  We met at 9:00 a.m. At the Chisinau City Hall, and as we gathered the policeman on the corner asked to take our picture.  It was to be the first of many.  We were led to a conference room where we met with the mayor of Chisinau, Dorin Cirtoaca.  He has participated in exchanges with the USA and speaks English very well.  George Meyer presented him a letter from Kevin Johnson and some gifts from Sacramento, including a Kings t-shirt.  He talked about the importance of cooperation with the United States and why it was vital to support exchanges with countries that share Moldova's values and will help it build a future.  He emphasized that Moldova and Romania share a common culture, ethnicity, and language.  He related how the last four generations of his family had suffered under Russian control.  When asked about his vision for Chisinau's future, he said he would like to capitalize on its green resources, such as the amount of forested land in the city, and would like to see better public transport using green technologies, recycling, production of biogas, bicycle lanes, and other improvements that would make Chisinau a desirable vacation destination.  Another challenge is keeping young people in the country, by providing better economic opportunities.  From there, we walked to the American Embassy where we were directed to the Office of Public Affairs in the American Resource Center and greeted by Joseph Tordella, director of public affairs.  Getting through security was a slow process, but we finally all got in.  We were joined by a number of US 'alumni' and took time to introduce everyone.  He talked about the importance of exchange programs and explained the functions of the American Resource Center and the embassy in general.  Marianna gave a powerpoint presentation on the Creative Development Association, which supports a number of programs including Odyssey of the Mind, Ecomania, Erasmus +, Moldox (a documentary film festival), and of course Friendship Force coordination.  Chris Smith made a presentation about Friendship Force, followed by a video in Russian.  After some snacks, we left the embassy and walked to the Ethnological Museum, where former Peace Corps Volunteer Chris Flowers was to show us around.  But our plans were changed when we learned that the crew from Jurnal TV was already in the park waiting for us.  We have been practicing the Moldovan National Anthem for this occasion, and we divided into small groups to recite verses of the national anthem.  The TV reporter filmed all of this, and then individually interviewed Chris Smith, Lynne, Marty, and Linda.  By the time we finished with the TV crew,  the museum had closed, so we rescheduled that for tomorrow and continued on to the Smokehouse Restaurant for our American Dinner night.  The food was definitely American:  BBQ ribs, hot wings, corn chips with salsa, chicken quesadillas, veggies with ranch dip, and pitchers of Arnold Palmer and lemonade.  We met the owner of the place, a former Peace Corps volunteer from Virginia.  The TV crew had followed us to the restaurant, and continued to interview both ambassadors and hosts.  The fun and food continued, and some stayed for the trivia session.  Enough media attention for one day!

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