Cassandra Mosier, Kersey native, enlisted as a volunteer in the U.S. Peace Corps and currently lives and teaches in Edinet, Moldova. Moldova is located between Ukraine and Romania.
"Even on the toughest days, I'm glad I'm here. I'm glad I'm working hard to help with situations few have had the nerve to address," Mosier said.
The 24-year-old Mosier left the U.S. on Jun. 6, 2011, to embark on a 27-month adventure. She said her passion lies in teaching, which she has taken to new horizons, quite literally.
"I could be a well-trained, capable, enthusiastic teacher in America, definitely. When I return, I fully intend to. First, though, I thought it would be great to be that same teacher, but in a place where people with the qualifications I have to offer aren't as plentiful," Mosier said. "I have different views than many of the people I meet here, and I think it's always valuable to see things in a way you haven't before.
Now living 4,800 miles from her hometown, Mosier teaches English to Moldovan students in a language she only recently learned. The Romanian she speaks on a daily basis was picked up during an intense 10-week training session. She attended classes and meetings six days a week, nine to 10 hours a day.
"We are doing exhausting and strenuous work to help improve the quality of life for those in our communities, beginning with and working through the immense challenge that is integration into a way of life we never knew we could be so unfamiliar with," Mosier said.
Mosier graduated from St. Marys Area High School in 2006, from Clarion University in 2009 with a bachelor of science degree in Elementary Education, and again from Clarion University in 2011 with a masters degree in Education.
Mosier may have two college degrees, but it doesn't cause her to shy away from the physical labor Moldovans must do every day to survive.
Mosier wrote in her blog, "Cutting down cornstalks [using only sickles] last weekend was great, but this weekend was grape-picking, and it was even better."
With life so different than what she is used to, a decision to move 4,800 miles away for a commitment of more than two years was not as difficult for Mosier as people might believe.
"It was an idea that presented itself on a couple of fronts, just as I was deciding what I ought to do with myself when I finished up my graduate degree, and so I started looking into it. I filled out the first application thinking, 'Maybe, I'll see what happens,'" Mosier said. "The best explanation I can come up with probably wouldn't satisfy a lot of people, but I can't help thinking it was where God wanted me, so He'd planted the idea and paved the path to get me here. I'm still not sure what He's doing with me here, but I'm eager to figure it out."
Mosier said she went to Moldova with one goal in mind, to make some sort of difference in a country needing just that. Upon entering the schools of Moldova, she soon realized they were very different from the ones she was accustomed to in America.
"Because funding to schools is so minimal here, teachers are very poorly paid and have to devote some of their time and energy to other jobs, as well as to the many demands that are part of keeping a household in order here, taking care of a family, and often tending to family farms or livestock," Mosier said.
Mosier teaches grades 2 through 7 and says she has had success bonding with her students.
"I think a lot of the kids view me as someone just a bit less occupied and intimidating than the teachers they typically interact with, and that makes me a very approachable adult. They appreciate that I need to ask them for help at times, they are thrilled that I laugh at their jokes, and we have developed a mutual respect for each other and a bond that I'd readily call my greatest success so far," Mosier said. "I'm at the advantage, and maybe even luxury, of having only myself to care for and only the students I work with to worry myself about. I have the time to stand in the halls with them between classes, inquiring about how they spent the winter break, checking out the new toy they have peeking from a backpack, or maybe just offering a big hug, a compliment, or a listening ear to someone who is proud to have learned their new vocabulary for homework.
Getting to know the students is the most valuable way an education volunteer can begin to become part of the lives of the host country nationals. Integration is key."
While Mosier is making a difference in the lives of her students, Moldova is making a difference in her.
"I think I'm finding myself being more lenient. I've always set high standards for others and even higher ones for myself, but I'm finding, here, more and more often than any improvement, any success or positive change, that even the tiniest victory is worth celebrating," Mosier said. "It's important in a place where it's so easy to recognize things that aren't working out according to plan to take note of the things that are still moving forward."
Mosier said she feels Peace Corps volunteers can make a difference that resonates over time. "Today's Peace Corps is functioning in a world where fewer places are in need of having wells dug or hospitals built," Mosier said. "The work that exists doesn't always result in a tangible, measurable, brick-and-mortar product. It's something that has more to do with planting seeds of thoughts and ideas. Some of them may grow while we're here, but the greatest result of them will probably come way down the line."
"ViaÅ£a Ã®n Moldova," meaning "Life in Moldova," is the blog Mosier is maintaining during her stay. It is located at viatainmoldova.blogspot.com. Mosier said the blog provides an honest account of the difficulties and breakthroughs she experiences while living and working in Moldova.
As Mosier continues her service, she said she would love for everyone back home to know where all of her courage and commitment comes from.
"Getting to Moldova and learning to live and work in a drastically different cultural environment and adjusting to a whole new way of life has been the most tremendous challenge I've ever undertaken. There are lots of days I struggle with it, and I am grateful beyond measure to my loved ones, my mother and sister, above all, not just for instilling the confidence and courage in my heart that it took to set this adventure into motion, but for the constant reassurance they offer at every opportunity that has allowed me to be successful in all my undertakings as a volunteer," Mosier said. "I know I could never do this on my own, but I'm lucky to know I will never have to. I have the most fantastic support system backing me up."