on the job: Radu update

Posted by on Feb 28, 2011 in on the job, pc-romania, veronica | 4 Comments

Perhaps you remember Radu. All winter long, Radu has been making caciula-s (winter hats) and fular-s (winter scarves) like mad.  Thanks to a big big package from home, there are plenty of looms to go around, now. He and Mariana have made enough that the center is selling them on consignment at various stores in town.

Recently, Radu’s been asking to talk to my mom.  Every morning, he says to me: Am treaba cu mama ta. I have business with your mom. Vreau sa vorbesc cu ea acum. I want to speak with her now.  He’s so serious that it makes me giggle. He says that he knows English and that of course my mom knows Romanian (because I know Romanian).  Every time he makes his request, it’s the middle of the night in the US and I tell him that my mom’s asleep.  He doesn’t understand time differences and acts horrified that a grown woman would be asleep at 10 in the morning. (You’re SO lazy, Mom!)

When I ask why he needs to talk to Mom, he talks about gherghef (looms) and that he needs some for home because he doesn’t have anything to do at home.  This is a tricky situation.  I work with 20 beneficiaries and it’s not smart to give presents to just one.  It’s also not sustainable to only have them use items found in the US, as their US connection (me) will be leaving in the not-too-distant future.  While I’ve contemplated how to make them, I think I need to wait til spring to embark on that, so I’ve been brainstorming sustainable alternatives.

Crocheting is where I’ve landed for the time being.  Crochet needles are available here and aren’t expensive. Radu could take a crochet needle and a ball of yarn home to have something to do there.  So it seems like a winner.  But Radu’s troubles with dexterity worried me.  He also doesn’t count well reliably.  I figured the dexterity issues were more pressing than counting.  But I wouldn’t know if he could do it until we gave it a whirl.

I reasoned that if he could learn the chain stitch and the double crochet, he’d be set. In all honesty, he could make simple blankets and scarves easily just knowing these two stitches and how to turn.

Last Friday, Radu learned the chain stitch. He showed me today that he remembered it.

Today we embarked on the double crochet stitch.  We made little sayings for each step. In jurul. Baga in gaura. In jurul. Dintele jos. Trage prin gaura. In jurul. Dintele jos. Trage prin doi ochi. In jurul. Dintele jos. Trage prin doi ochi. Around. Put in the hole. Around. Tooth down. Pull through the hole. Around. Tooth down. Pull through two loops. Around. Tooth down. Pull through two loops.  Granted, my Romanian leaves much to be desired. It’s probably laughable.  But he didn’t flinch when I called the loops of yarn, eyes or when I used the word tooth for the hook of the needle.   Actually, he quite liked it.

Two hours later, he succeeded with doing a stitch all on his own. Talk about perseverance, patience, and concentration (from both of us!). Then he told me he loved me because my heart helped him succeed.

There will be no highway in Romania named in my honor (A PCV in Tonga has one in her name). I doubt I’m teaching the next president of Romania (the President of Peru was taught English by a PCV).  But I am teaching Radu to crochet.  It’s the little victories and meaningful moments like this that will be my Peace Corps legacy.



  1. Melody C.
    February 28, 2011

    Veronica, What a beautiful statement! Thank you for sharing the update!

    • veronica
      March 1, 2011

      Melody! So glad you’re still reading my blog! Gretel is so much better at updating hers than I am! You know when we’re all back in the states, we’re going to have to have a family meet-up. You know, we hear so much about our friends’ families that it’d be a shame to not eventually put faces, names, and bodies together!!

  2. Angela Bensberg
    March 1, 2011

    Veronica, I can’t tell you how much I enjoy your blog. Having taught ESL for years, your “celebrate little victories” is exactly on the mark. What a great attitude you have. Your blog just enhances my excitment to get started in a wonderful country. Thank you for sharing.

    • veronica
      March 1, 2011

      Angela…. Thanks for your comment and for reading! And glad you’re headed our direction.
      Working with people with disabilities (both here and at home) has me tuned to look for those little victories, but sometimes in my own life, I need a little reminder of my own little victories. You know how it goes. And did I see that you’re from the Carolinas? David and I met and lived in NC; David grew up there and I grew up in SC. It’ll be great to have another Southerner!


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