Communication in Moldova

There are so many ways to communicate, and I experienced a lot of them while in Moldova.

The newest way to communicate for me is sign language.  I really only knew how to sign "thank you" prior to my visit to Tiraspol.  Then, I found out that it isn't done the same way in Russian.  But even with my limited signing skills, I had a great moment communicating.  Right from the start, I knew I wanted some kids signing "welcome" in the mural design.  It's a two part action so I drew a boy doing the first part and a girl completing the second.

On the last day of the painting in Tiraspol, Vitroli, one of my deaf painters, had his "a ha!" moment.  And, I was lucky enough to see it.  After four days of painting, he finally realized that the kids in the mural were signing.   He already had such pride in his work.  But, he was out and out thrilled that the mural included communication that was so vital in his life.  He didn't have to say anything for me to see his joy.

Now, I've always considered Facebook kind of a luxury instead of a necessity. That's all changed because now I have four Facebook friends who are deaf. While I painted with these young people, I basically pointed at colors on my pencil sketch of the mural, smiled a lot, and signed "thank you" even more than smiling.  But, on Facebook I can actually communicate.  I can write whatever I want in English.  They can use Google Translate to understand what I've written.  Then, they can reply in either Russian or English!  I've actually had more conversations with them this way than I ever could while painting the mural.

This certainly is one of life's surprising ways to communicate.

Sometimes, however, all you need is a warm smile.  Most of my painters in Chisinau were Moldavian youth who spoke English and had some kind of connection with the U.S. Embassy or the American Center.  Communication was so much easier on this second mural.  But, not all youth I encountered were so fortunate.  Our mural was at a school for children with special needs.  School vacation was in session so most students were not at school.  A few were present and one of my favorites was a tiny little boy with a giant amount of personality and confidence.  He came up to my interpreter on the first day, so excited!  "Are you the artist working on this mural?  You're amazing!" and then he thrust out his arm to shake Octavian's hand.  I wanted to cry out, "But, wait a minute!  It's my design.  Shake my hand too!"  It didn't happen.  He wouldn't have understood my English anyway.

But, I got my turn the following day.

As I washed paint brushes at a sink, the little guy came up to me.  I didn't understand a word he said, but I knew exactly what he asked about.  And, when I said, "Da", his arm thrust out in my direction.  I don't think I was ever so pleased to shake someone's hand.

Another young man, Nico, graduated from the school.  When he passed by our project, he wanted to participate.  So, I spent an hour of one-on-one time with Nico.  All I could say to him was, "Da, da, da" (Yes, yes, yes) but that with a smile was all he needed.  He was so genuinely thrilled to be a part of the project.  I didn't need to understand Romanian to see that.  And when he hugged me, I figured I read that situation correctly.

Of course, there are other ways to communicate.  And, on this trip to Moldova, I had another first.  I was interviewed on live morning television.  Now, if you believe the beautiful newscaster who came for the interview, it was with the most popular morning television show in the country.   Who am I to doubt her?

Interview No. 2 with ProTV

I spoke about how the murals started and what brought me to Moldova.  But, it all happened so fast.  And, it was over before I knew it.  I really wasn't done sharing, but I guess I was finished anyway.  There was one more thing I really wanted to share.  While painting my last mural in Columbus, Ohio, there was a three car accident in front of the mural.  I thought it would be a great closing line for the segment to tell the audience to enjoy the mural but drive safely.  It didn't happen.  Well, it didn't happen on this broadcast.

Now, another day of painting exposed me to a form of communication that I just haven't gotten into.  Selfies.  I don't see the need.  I don't have a smart phone.  And, I already know what I look like.  But, one of the embassy people who works communications posted a selfie on Facebook while painting.  Shortly after that, she was contacted by another television station who wanted to come over for an interview.  I don't believe in selfies.  But, even I have to admit that a selfie bringing a news crew on location gives fairly good bragging rights for quite a while.  "I posted a selfie that brought out a news crew.  What did you do today?" Who can top that on Facebook?  So Moldova tied Albania with two television newscasts about my murals.

By the way, I mentioned the line about the accident and safe driving during my second interview.  Yep, but it was cut in the editing process.  I tried again in my third television interview.  Yes, you read that right, three interviews.  Another news crew shortened our lunch break when they showed up unexpectedly.   I was certainly much bigger news in Moldova than ever in Ohio.

There is one final form of communication that I want to mention.  Newspapers.  I still like to hold paper in my hands.  As far as I know, there are no plans for a newspaper article on my projects, although there should be!  But, I doubt anyone will ever break the record set in Mexico.  The story about me and my murals was a full page spread.  Nope, I just don't see that happening again.