Since August 2018, Molly Huser has been serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in a village in Moldova. As a community economic development volunteer, she helps directors at the public library and a local organization learn professional skills such as computers, English and organizational methods.
Huser is originally from Plano, Texas and graduated from UT with a degree in Marketing last May. One of her motivations to volunteer was to gain an understanding of grassroots development in another country, but she has gained so much more than that in the past year. She learned the importance of being flexible and accepting that some things in life can’t be predetermined.
We caught up with Huser and asked about her typical day as a Peace Corps volunteer and the lessons she learned so far.
Molly, how does your typical day look like?
My usual Monday starts at 7:30, when I wake up, work out, shower and eat breakfast before my tutoring session at 10. After tutoring, I go to the library and work with the librarian on a new computer skill (MS Excel, Gmail, running the Facebook page, etc.).
At 1:00, the younger grades – up to age 13 – get out of class and we usually have about ten or fifteen come straight to the library. Mondays we have computer club for an hour, where we work with Scratch and Code Club International projects to learn the logic behind coding.
After computer club, I usually drink tea with the librarian and my coworkers in the Casa de Cultura and catch up on the town gossip. Monday afternoons at 3:30 we have the beginner's English club at the school, where we have a formal lesson followed by a game or two.
Now, because it's winter, I go home after English club and "help" my host family cook dinner (I usually just sit there and talk to my sister). After dinner, we'll watch TV in Russian or Romanian, have guests over to hang out, or I'll talk on the phone with friends back home or other PCVs.
Each day has its own schedule, none of which are set in stone! For instance, today I was supposed to have two clubs but they got canceled because we had a concert for visitors from Romania instead. Life's pretty flexible here.
Why did you decide to join Peace Corps?
I wanted to get a better understanding of grassroots development in a foreign country and to give back to others who don't have a lot of the privileges and opportunities that Americans grow up with.
What is your favorite part about being a Peace Corps Volunteer?
I love the experience of integrating into a new language and a new perspective; I never thought I would live in the former USSR or get the chance to speak to people who lived through the Soviet Union, much less have in-depth conversations about the influence it has had on their lives and culture today. Peace Corps is great at really immersing the volunteers in a way other programs don't!
What are the hardest parts about being a Peace Corps Volunteer?
Being so far away from Chuy's. And my dogs.
What have you learned about yourself through your service?
I've learned that I have a lot more grit than I give myself credit for; I spend most of my day speaking a language I didn't know eight months ago, find myself applying the business skills I learned at UT in a foreign context without a budget, and have eaten cabbage at least four times a week for over half a year without having a mental breakdown.
How will your service impact your career or career goals?
I think that no matter what I do from now on, I won't be satisfied with my career unless I'm helping others. I can't imagine going home to the 'States and working in the corporate world just for a paycheck. Nothing against that lifestyle, I just know now that that's not for me.
What are your plans after you complete your service?
I'm hoping to one day work for the U.S. State Department. Until then, I hope to get involved in nonprofit management or public service. One thing Moldova has taught me is to just be flexible and accept that life is life and it changes.
What have you gained because of your experience in Peace Corps?
A shaky knowledge of Romanian, lifelong friends and experiences and a killer homemade wine recipe.
What would you say to current UT students considering applying to Peace Corps?
I don't know about you, but I plan on living a long life. Two years in a lifetime is nothing. It's not for everyone, but if you have the opportunity and you're in a place financially where you can do it, why not? It's not that long, modern technology makes communicating with home a breeze, and you'll have amazing memories for the rest of your life.