Saturday, February 7, 2009

February 7, 2009

We have been here for a week now and finished one course. Next week we will visit in social agencies and social work programs at other schools. The last week Preston will teach statistics. Our interpreter knows excel (which is what we will be using) very well so he will be a great help with that course.

One of the best ways to learn more about the country is visiting with people who have lived here for a long time. Last night we had dinner with Oleg and Natasha in their home. They both grew up here and were teenagers during the soviet era. It was a delightful evening--good food and good conversation. They have both lived in the US for periods of time so they can understand the comparisons between the two counties.

They talked about how Americans think and talk about food a lot. After breakfast we are thinking about what we are going to do for lunch. They said here food is not that important. They eat as a necessity and not as a social event.

I also learned more about the shopping patterns. Natasha said the reason they don't want you to try anything on unless you will buy it is because the salespeople think you are just wasting their time if you aren't going to buy. She says they don't even want you to come look at things unless you are going to buy it. That ruins all the fun of just shopping around in a store! Natasha and I are going to have a "girls day out" late next week so I will see what we do. At home we would go shopping not necessarily to buy anything.

Yesterday we heard that in the state universities you do not have to attend class. You can register for a class and pass the final and never come at all. Or you can register and pay the professor some money and pass without even going to class or passing the final exam. That explains the attitudes of a couple of our students.

The Family in Moldova
We have had several conversations with students and Vitali, Oleg and Natasha about family life in Moldova. Actually, I think we pick of ideas from the Moldova Students and then check them out with the 3 Turlacs.

Two of the students are designing program evaluations of programs for 16 year olds aging out of the boarding schools (We have discover this is a more accepted term that orphanage.) Looking for outcomes lead us to discussion when children start to live and be independent of family. It seems it is very common for adult children to live with their parents well in adulthood. We have heard numerous stories of sons living with parents well into their 30's-even after they marry. Economics play into this. Housing is very costly as is food; but I believe there is more. One foster family that we know of have had a young woman living with them since she aged out of the boarding school at 16 (2 1/2 years ago). When we knew this family 2 years ago the 16 year old was affectionate and clingy and could not seem to get enough of the family. This visit the family has confided to us that they are worried about her because she is spending less time with them, has not made friends apart from her boarding school friends, and spends most of her time with friends and her boyfriend. I can hear my U. S. friends and colleagues say, "So, isn't that normal teenage, late adolescent behavior?" Yes, it is in the USA, but it is at least less typical here. Our friends, the family I've been talking about, are hurting and thinking they have not done a good job with this young woman because she is no longer as close to them as before and is making friends outside the family. I can remember having some of the same feeling when Debbie, Sam, Susan, Liza and Laura went through this period, but it was not as disturbing because it was expected. This family does not have this to fall back on. Their biological children are still in the home and have no thoughts of leaving emotionally or physically although 3 of them are older than their foster daughter.

Tracy, this has given us an opportunity to discuss the development theories you taught last May. They still believe the stages are the same in this culture, but the times people move into and out of stages are different.

This has caused a bit of a problem from a research perspective. How do you determine what is a successful foster placement for a child? In the U. S. I think we would use staying in the family until they age out at 18 at least one measure of success. That does not work so well here. I think the student finally ended up accepting that what is "normal" for a child reared in a boarding home but may not be the same for someone reared in a typical Moldovan family. She is using living in the foster home until graduation as one measure of success, but also wants to use as an objective the frequency of contacts with the family after graduating.

We are having lots of fun learning and experiencing new things. I hope we are not boring our readers with our reflections. Thanks for staying with us.

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