Others’ Cultures: Part 2

Concept

Comparing two cultures is a privilege – if not an essential practice – that can catalyze greater understanding of the self, a native society and how societies relate to one another. My time in Moldova has helped me see beyond what I had been socialized to accept as “normal.”

People have to make sense of what they observe, and the way the human mind accomplishes this most efficiently is to draw upon previous experience. We compare and contrast, often intuitively. It’s a box – we can become trapped in it – but it’s on wheels.

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Others’ Cultures: Part 1

Habitus

I recently wrote a research proposal for a competition that would allow me to extend my stay in Comrat. The work would involve both a culminating paper and an ongoing storytelling project. Both would explore the nuances of belief, religion, magic and superstition in Gagauzia. I knew my tales would be meant mainly for an American audience, and proposed that Americans could learn a thing or two about truth and fact when reading my expositions.

I sent the thing off for feedback, and my step-aunt Ellie provided a galaxy of criticism! She recommended that I expand on the topic of how I would ethically approach cultural reporting. More importantly, though, she pushed me to consider how to treat people seriously – in writing and in person.

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Story of the Week: Piss-poor Tubicle and the Princess of Misfortune

In characteristic neglect of my feminine duty, I had forgotten (“память девичья,” that poor faculty of retention, as my host mother likes to tease) to wash the Miras Moldova office when my turn turned up. I was a week late.

My partners had reassured me, suggesting that I invite our new French volunteer to assist. Now wouldn’t it be much easier this way!

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3 Lei per Kilo

This past Sunday, I rose early for autumn’s first chill dawn. I dressed and waited for my partner Anna’s call – she was hitchhiking in from her village. She rang from the cemetery. Though we had planned to meet at my place, her ride had dropped her early and unceremoniously. The walk to my director Olga’s house would be faster if Anna didn’t have to meet me.

I sighed, and trudged alone the 20 minutes to Olga’s home, where I joined the ladies and Olga’s parents for breakfast. We waited longer than we had planned for two neighbors, but we needed them – it’s wine season in Moldova!

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