An Interesting End of the Week and a Calm Weekend
Wednesday, a large number of colleagues came in from DC along with our new Country Director from Kyiv. I love having senior colleagues around. Just having lunch with them gives me and opportunity to pick their brain. Like having private classes in applied economics during which you have the opportunity to ask anything you you’ve been wondering about. Plus the fact that I really enjoy working with them and what we are doing right now is really interesting. My colleagues and I also had the opportunity to listen to our new Country Director’s ideas about our work in the region and in what direction we are heading. As everyone knows, a lot of changes are taking place in the countries around us right now, and a lot is not really moving in the way foreseen only a few years ago. But where are things going then? And what role could our organization play? It is immensely interesting but also an immense challenge. I am not sure, though, that we will have to redefine our agenda and the objectives towards which countries are aiming for. Rather, I think that it requires flexibility and acceptance of that politics in one country is not like politics in another, and also that it changes over time, and that this will have impacts on what is done. Important, however, is that the rights of the individual and the freedom for every person to decide over his or her life should never be compromised.
Friday evening, I had dinner with Doina and Liliana. Liliana lives in the same type of small Chisinau house that I do and it is so cosy! We had a really nice evening.
Saturday morning, I brought out my music sheets and my voice exercises and practiced singing properly for the first time in over a year. I am not sure why I have not been singing more here. I never really found a choir except for in the churches and I did not get around to find a tutor. I mentioned this to my Romanian teacher the other day, and she told me that she knew a couple of teachers from Chisinau’s Music Academy that give private classes on the side. I was so disappointed that I did not know that earlier! Anyway, singing went really bad at first and I got totally depressed as always when my voice is not in shape. But it got better with some practice and in the end it was not too bad. I have to find a way to sing more in DC.
In the afternoon, I met up with Ghendadie (my super smart colleague from IOM) and we went book shopping. Ghenadie helped me pick up a bunch of classic children’s books in Romanian and Russian (I have to start somewhere) and I ended up with a collection of Romanian folk stories and Ion Creangă’s Amintri din Copilărie (Doina’s and Liliana’s suggestion), along with Eminescu, Tolstoy, Pushkin, Chekhov, and Gorki (i.e. all the mandatory children’s classics). So now I have something to read in DC!
Right now, however, I am reading Easterly’s The White Man’s Burden. So far it is interesting, though not very positive, and I think he is over-focusing on what he refers to as Jeffery Sachs big plan (in The End of Poverty) instead of recognizing that they are basic pillars for development and that sustainable investments (capital, institutional and human capital) over time are important for private sector development, which in turn is essential for growth. That is not to say that they have to come in the same format everywhere and I am not sure that anyone is arguing that. (Even Easterly recognizes that most of the technical staff in donor organizations is trying to tailor solutions to the local contexts.) Also, he is miss-quoting Harry Potter, which makes me wonder how much of the more important stuff in the book that is miss-quoted. (Yes, I realize that I should know Burke’s, Owen’s and Myrdal’s ideas better than the content of Harry Potter and thus be able to evaluate this myself while reading, but still.) Anyway, I have only gotten through the first chapters, so I might agree more with what he opposes eventually. But right now, I am more convinced of what he argues for than that he is right about those he argues against.
Today, I have had brunch again at Madeleine’s, which was super nice. I think I will have to start a similar tradition in DC. It is raining in Chisinau right now so I think I will spend the rest of the day at cafes and at home reading. Tomorrow, I am leading my first implementation meeting with a Ministry. I am a bit nervous (mostly because I will have some senior colleagues there with me) but I hope it will go well. I will start to prepare for it now.
I wanted to post some pics here from this weekend, but since this is probably the most inflexible blog site on the web, a specific program must be downloaded – something wchich is of course not possible to do at any available computer. But guess that’s Microsoft; created in the heart of the capitalist world but like a Soviet remain!