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More than Just Partners

Over three years ago a new Peace Corps volunteer joined JCC KEDEM team. It was just at the celebration of the US Independence Day when we said a warm farewell to the previous Peace Corps volunteer Ohad Sternberg.
Carl Donovan, an experienced consultant in finances and economy, became the third PC volunteer in the Jewish Center after Ohad and Adam Goodberg. All these three absolutely different but extremely enthusiastic, open, willing to do and improve, consult, act and change left a significant trace in the heart and activities of the JCC.
During this significant period of time JCC KEDEM became more than just business partner with the Peace Corps, its volunteers and leadership are regular and beloved guests at many JCC events and programs. And personal relations with “our” volunteers also turned to be more similar to friendship.

At the end of Carl’s mission in Moldova and KEDEM we answered him several questions.
1 What was your motivation to join Peace Corps?

To learn from people who have had different life experiences and to share with them my experiences and skill-sets.  Also, I was bored with my routine life in the US
2.Why you did not do it earlier as it is more usual?

When I was in my early 20s, my priority was to establish a career. I was young and intense.  I did not want to delay the professional-development process.
3.What was your first image about Moldova when you knew you were going here? 

Since Moldova is a former soviet state, life would be austere and Moldovans would have little understanding of the western way of life.
4.What is the most important thing that you learned during these three years? 

That my initial impression of Moldovans was incorrect - they enjoy life, they have a special fondness for the arts and they value western culture
5. What did you like and dislike in Moldova and Chisinau? Taking into account your economic, financial and leading positions in the previous career how do you estimate perspectives of the republic? 

I like Moldovan people; they are unpretentious.  But, they don’t value personal space and are quick to force their way through crowds.  I am concerned about the corruption of some key people in positions of authority and the damaging effect it is having on the economy.  If the corruption remains unaddressed, the country will not be able to attract business and may face bankruptcy.
6. Which language seemed to you as more difficult in your life – Spanish, Romanian, Russian or Chinese? Or you do not feel any difference? 

Any language except English is difficult for me.  I have never had a facility with languages, but the situation has become worse with age.
7.  Your main service point was KEDEM – what are your impressions about the Center and its activities (except birthday parties)? What are your advices on its future strategy? 

I am impressed with the mission of KEDEM.  The organization does an excellent job of preserving Jewish culture and heritage and projecting Jewish culture to non-Jews. KEDEM hosts many successful cultural events throughout the year.  Its events are well attended by both Jews and non-Jews. 
KEDEM must find a way to reduce its reliance on JDC.  It could follow the lead of other JCCs in Eastern Europe that have developed strong income streams from commercial programs.
8. Please list three most memorable events or situations that you take with you.

(1) Working with the staff of KEDEM and JDC on program and financial development issues, (2) Joining Moldovan friends at cultural events, (3) Advising individual Moldovans on business development issues.
9. We know you as a traveler. What are your plans for the next three years? Is there any chance you return to your second Motherland? 

Although I will re-establish a home in the United States, I will not stay there full-time.  I plan to continue my volunteer work in other countries.  I have a special fondness for Moldova and other FSU countries and am looking forward to returning to the area.
10. What can you say to new PC volunteers who are coming to Moldova? And to those foreign volunteers who come to KEDEM?  Keep an open mind.  Much can be learned through interaction with Moldovans.  Enjoy your new Moldovan friends. KEDEM provides the opportunity to develop an understanding of Eastern European Jewish life and heritage.  There is considerable potential for helping KEDEM to become less reliant on JDC funding.

 Thank you, Carl for all your input and help, for your wisdom, humor, and charm. We wish you, your sons and grandsons health, peace, prosperity, new aims and achievements. Toate cele bune!