Travelingvolunteer's Blog

cultural immersion at it's best!

Video: My Romanian Experience May 1, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — travelingvolunteer @ 4:39 pm

In a previous post I wrote that it may be a couple/few weeks before I put out a presentation.  This is funny to me now because it took us a couple of weeks just to move!   Then, when I began working in iMovie, I became fascinated with the tools at my fingertips and the capability to bring the experience to other people.  When I watch the presentation I feel lucky as I relive it over again.

This video presentation is not all inclusive of everything I learned in Romania.  It would have taken a 100GB+ memory card…because all I did was learn!  This experience was so meaningful and on such a deep and personal level.  The only other time I have felt speechless like this was when I saw the ocean for the first time, which definitely altered future “plans”…live in the moment!  If you are even considering an experience like this…go for it…you can’t go wrong!  I WILL be doing this again.

I am surrounded by many people who have a shared vision and I can’t ask for more than that.  Thank you to EVERYONE!

Turn on your speakers and enjoy!

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Special Feature: Romanian Experience Slideshow including all photos from Romania (not all are included in the video presentation).

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Homecoming March 30, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — travelingvolunteer @ 7:49 pm

Well…I survived the long travel days.  Kathe and I stayed overnight at the Bucharest Airport and we are so thankful to our fellow volunteer Brian.  He went above and beyond to help us out…giving us the opportunity to stay in the airport lounge which had comfortable seating, food, and drinks.  This was yet another wonderful surprise that made the trip better than anticipated.  Thank you, Brian.

After spending the night in an airport, all you hope for is that you have no delays, cancellations, or missed flights. Bucharest to Frankfurt…easy.  Frankfurt to Calgary…besides it being almost ten hours, easy.  THEN we arrived at the Calgary Airport.  The Calgary Airport has got to be the most unfriendliest maze to maneuver for international travelers with a short layover.  Lost luggage and a marathon ensued!  IMAGINE…spending the night in an airport, then 13 hours in the sky, and you are only an hour and half flight away from being home.  We were MORE than determined to make our flight and we did it!!!  It felt like such an accomplishment to sit in our seats on that plane.  I just felt bad for the person that got stuck in the seat next to me…I definitely did not smell pretty.

After the marathon madness and final take-off, it was time to chill.  I needed some music…to be specific…M. Ward and Wilco.  Ahhh…easing of the mind is a wonderful thing.  AND…you can only guess that the final landing at the Portland Airport, 1:55pm on Sunday felt AWESOME!!!  It was such an amazing homecoming.  It DID feel really good to hold my family again and you would never guess how many bad pun jokes I got caught up on. 🙂  Thanks John, Cassidy, & Abbey for a wonderful Sunday and Monday!

I am still feeling pretty overwhelmed from the trip.  It has been a little weird coming back and getting on track with my days…almost as if I am having more culture shock coming back instead of going there.  Weird, huh?!  I think I have experienced almost every emotion possible in the past two weeks.  My time in Romania has definitely changed me.  Exactly how and in what way I do not know…but I am excited to see where it leads me!

The Bucharest Airport.  Our home for 18 hours.

The airport lounge.  We were so happy we could curl up and lay down on a loveseat.  Thanks again, Brian…we really appreciated this.

I also wanted to correct something from an earlier post.  On the post titled “Rasnov, Romania” I included a picture of the secret stairs from Bran “Dracula’s” Castle.  EXCEPT…they are the wrong set of stairs!  So…here is a picture of the real secret stairs.  These stairs are far more fitting of “secret stairs.” 🙂

Thank you, Kathe & Brian…it was great to be part of the experience with you AND thank you to everyone who followed along with the blog.  I enjoyed sharing my experience with you all.  I am going to put something together that will include video and pictures I took…capturing conversations and bringing life to the experiences I wrote about…I can’t wait to share it with you.  Realistically, it may be a couple/few weeks…but be sure to check back!

I do not intend for this to be the last use of this blog.  Like I said in an earlier post, my/our future travels will be designed differently.  I dream to have many more travelingvolunteer adventures to bring to you.


Last Day in Romania March 26, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — travelingvolunteer @ 3:15 pm

What a great last day in Romania…it has been non-stop busy from 8am-11pm!  I even woke up early this morning and went and took a peaceful walk around the area before breakfast.  This was great because when we are driving around I have my head down (motion sickness prevention), so it was nice to see new things in the area I had not previously.  It was another beautiful day as well.  We really did pick the right week to come…it couldn’t have been more perfect. 

In the morning Simona took us to the first Romanian School.  The first Romanian School means that it is the first school in Romania that taught in the Romanian language.  We saw several first additions of Romanian almanacs, thesauruses, books, etc… and the first Romanian printing press as well.  We learned that when they first started printing books it would take two years to print 1 book!!  Some book covers were very elaborate, but they should be if it took two years to create…right?! 🙂 

Simona also took us to visit a couple of churches so we could see the insides of them.  First we visited an Orthodox church, which is the church the Romanians attend.  In the Orthodox church there are no chairs (only along the sides for the wise older gentle folk) and the sermons run approximately 3 hours…and you are standing!  Then we got to go to the Black Church…really St. Mary’s Church…which is the church the Germans attended and if I remember correctly their religion was Lutheran.  I am really tired so I may be getting my information mixed up and will correct later if I am wrong.  What I know for sure is there were mainly 3 groups of people that had settled here…Romanians, Germans (also known as Saxons), and Hungarians.  Each had their own religion.  I asked if having different religions was an issue between them…it was not because everyone’s primary concern was security from invaders.

Then of course we stopped for a delicious lunch.  We haven’t eaten a bad meal yet.  I have never eaten so well on vacation!  After lunch we were off to explore the city of Brasov on our own for a couple of hours…free time just to take in the last day.  Brasov is such a beautiful city…I had no idea it would be so awesome and I really do love it here!  I don’t understand why more people don’t come here!? 

Simona had to go to teach her kindergarten and after our free time in the city Peter took us to see 4 more families that will benefit from their center in Haghig.  It was a great time visiting with 2 of the families, but the other 2 families told Peter they didn’t want to be a part of the program anymore…for whatever reason they had.  Some because of rumors (remember…rumors are often not true…but they still put fear in people) they have heard regarding Hungarian discrimination, no choice in education, etc.  Peter tried to tell them they were not true, but you cannot make them want a better way of living.  It is sad when they pull out and I think Peter and Simona were disappointed, but better they pull out now instead of later when there may have been problems as Simona said. 

We stopped by the farm for one last time to visit with the goats, sheep, ducks, and the dog who just had two cute little puppies.  They were adorable.  Then we were off to see the center where we all thought we were staying, but the project there completed right before we arrived.  The center was very nice and would have been comfortable and enlightening as well.  The area where this center is also houses the biggest Roma community in Romania.  We drove through it and stopped by one of Peter’s friends, who is also Roma.  Remember the other night when I shared pictures of the difference between homes in the Roma community…not all Roma live without their human needs and Peter’s friend, George, is one of them.  He has built a new home for him and his family which had electricity, running water, and heat.  They are working on putting in a washroom as well.

Then it was off to a nice restaurant for our grand finale meal.  Of course I ordered potatoes!  Something I love about Romanians is that they eat a lot of potatoes!!!  For those who know me well know that I LOVE potatoes.  It has been a pleasure eating here because of this.  I don’t know if I have ever met anyone else with the same passion over potatoes as I have…until this trip…Brian LOVES potatoes too.

So, after a big meal what do you do in Romania?  Well, tonight we went back and dressed up in traditional Romanian clothing and danced.  Boy…am I ever happy I had Dramamine in my system when we arrived because there is a lot of spinning involved in some of those dances.  But it was a great ending to a perfect trip!

This is the first Romanian school.  This is also where they had the first Romanian printing press and a library.  Many valuable historical documents are in this building. 

Our guide in the Romanian School.  This is also one of Simona’s former teachers who is also the priest who married her and Peter.  This was a man who had a great sense of humor, sang for us, and shared his vast knowledge on…well I think EVERYTHING!!!  During communism rule, when government didn’t want people to learn certain things, they would take and burn all of the books.  Someone wanted to keep the history safe and put items in the attic of the school where they stayed safe for many years.  This man is the one who discovered the historical documents/books in the attic of the museum and now shares the history with visitors.    You can tell this man loves to learn and has passion for what he does.  Plus, he also knows 5 languages!!!  The books he is standing by are ones he has written…with the exception of the Bible.

People watching at the Piata Sfatuliu (Piazza fountain – City Center, Brasov).  You might be able to see the Brasov sign real small at the top of the mountain…that is where we stood the other day looking down onto the city.  I can’t say it enough…I LOVE this city…it has such character.

This is one of the families we visited today.  The mom is in the blue & white striped shirt.  She is 33 and has 10 children ranging from ages 2-18!  The room I am standing in is where they have an iron stove for cooking…similar to the one in the picture the other day.  The room you see behind them is where they all sleep…a total of 11 people since here 18-year-old is married.  They do not have running water, but they do have electricity.  These kids were so happy to see us and loved to see their pictures after we took them.  They kept posing, giggling, and I don’t think they wanted it to end. 

This is where the family goes to use the restroom.  No commentary necessary.

Two of the children standing in the doorway.  Like I said before, this is one of many photos I took of this family.  I probably took about 25 photos of these kids…they were enamoured with our cameras.  Luckily there were three of us or we wouldn’t have been able to keep up.

The second family and home we visited.  In this home live 6 children…with one on the way…and 2 adults.  It was so small and with the family in there we couldn’t even really look in.

This is the family (not all pictured) who live in the house just above and Peter is the one giving them food.  We brought food to all of the families we visited…a gift from the Easter Bunny as Peter said.

This little guy seemed weary of us…hiding around the corner…but he was happy to get some chocolate. 🙂

Cassidy & Abbey…this picture is for you!  These puppies are only a couple of days old.  Aren’t they adorable?!

Peter and his friend George.  George works for the another non-profit Peter and Simona coordinated with before they started building their center.  Yet another nice family that graciously welcomed us into their home. 

Simona, Peter, and Oscar their new puppy.  They have had him for only a couple of weeks.  Oscar will get HUGE!  They plan to have him help guard the center when it is done.  You can tell they love this little pup.

Victor was ready for dancing upon our arrival back home.  These folks are full of energy and ready to share it with you.  It was a wonderful time and luckily the step count didn’t go above 3 or I would have been in trouble. 🙂

Victor and the Trae Voluntares in traditional Romanian gear. 

Tomorrow will be bitter-sweet.  I have enjoyed my time here so much and feel like there is much more learning to be done.  However, I am also very overwhelmed by everything and now I can begin to process it all.  The trip has gone fast and when I get home it will probably all feel like a dream to me.  I have asked A LOT of questions, heard different perspectives on many issues, met many wonderful people, and gained insight into a country that I didn’t really know anything about prior to planning this trip.  WOW!  You know how sometimes you have such strong feelings that you can’t express in words…right now, in this moment, is how I feel.

Wish me luck, for the next 2 days will be long airport and travel days…but at the end I will get to hold my family again and I can’t wait!

I will miss you Romania!  Napte Buna.


Fourth and Final Work Day on Project March 25, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — travelingvolunteer @ 10:49 am

Today started out a little rough for me.  I have done so well and haven’t really felt bad at all, then today I woke up with my stomach not feeling so well.  Took some medicine, laid down and fanned myself, and then headed downstairs for breakfast.  This is not a time to let a little stomach ache disrupt this experience and it didn’t!  Fortunately, with time it went away and I had a wonderful and very touching day.

Today was our final day working on the project because tomorrow we are going to do some more cultural exploration.  We had a good finale…we only shoveled gravel for a couple of hours and we got it complete!!!  Again, Catalin came to help and so did Victor.  While it may be hard work, it is nice to work alongside such a dedicated group of people. 

Since today was a short day, after lunch Simona set up a surprise for us to go and visit two of the families who will be living in the center they are building.  While only one of the mothers was home at the time, we got to see both of the homes since the families are related to each other (the mothers of the families are sisters).  There are no words to describe what I saw.  It is one thing to see it in a video…and that even is hard to fathom…but to see it in person you really get first hand perspective on their living conditions.  I am speechless and makes me so grateful my basic human needs are met.  I asked Peter if the families also get stipends, like in the Roma communities and got more clarification on how this works.  Yesterday I mentioned that the families get stipends depending on how many children they have.  This is true, however, it is how many children they have that are attending school. 

This is the biggest nest I have ever seen!  It is on top of one of the houses in the village where we have been working.  We were really lucky to be able to capture the memory with a bird in it.  She has babies in there as well…you could tell she was feeding them.  It was very cool!  I have to ask…if a bird built a nest like this on your house would you let the bird keep it’s home?

See the three rocks to the left of the picture?  These were the magic rocks.  We had the rock spread, but the truck dumped rock past the point that was necessary and the final thing was to get all of the gravel to the left of these rocks.  You could imagine everyone’s temptation to move the rocks to the right. 😉

This picture was taken a short distance down the street in the village of Haghig…where the project is.  This little village has such character.  So much to see in this picture.  The lady you see in the blue vest was pushing the cart in the foreground of the picture down the street and in the container on the cart is kerosene.  Also, make note of the well…you can’t tell from the picture, but it is the kind you see in the old movies where there is a bucket attached to it and you lower it to get water.  I thought is was really neat to see one of these.  And of course…the horse and buggy.  The colors on the houses in the village are all very bright…that pink is wild but it fits in.

This is the first home we saw of one of the families and it isn’t even as big as it looks.  To the right of the doorway you will see a shelf which is where all of the clothes are kept.  Then…once you get inside it is really just one room with 3 beds fit in somehow.  SEVEN PEOPLE LIVE IN THIS HOME! 

I am standing in the room of the home above.  To get some perspective of size, I am standing against the beds on the other side of the room.  The stove you see is how they do their cooking.  The family does not have a refrigerator, electricity, or water and when they have enough money they have a generator for heat during the winter.  Could you imagine?! 

This is the families wash room…no sink or shower, just a place to relieve yourself.  AND…it is open to the elements and you have to walk outside to get to it.  No words can describe the feeling I got when I saw this.

This is the entrance to the second home we saw.  Since the two families are related, they are right next to each other. 

This is one of the small rooms in the second home.  It had two rooms, but they were smaller than the room in the first home.  Five people live in this home.  Again for some perspective, I am standing in very small area between the two rooms.  Imagine a family of 5 or six and no privacy at all!

This is Rosa.  She is the mother of one of the families and was very gracious to let us in to her home and share her story.  She has lived here all her life.  She lived here with her parents and her two sisters.  At that time they had the whole house (now divided with her 2 other sisters) for their family and it was in better condition.  When communism fell and her parents passed away her circumstances worsened and her, her sisters and their families divided out the house…basically having 1 room per family.  Since the weather is getting nicer her husband has found some work in construction, but it is only temporary and when winter comes it gets more difficult for the family.  One of the requirements to live in the center that Simona and Peter are building is that they help work on it and work in it when it is complete.  They are very grateful to Peter and Simona for this opportunity.  She had a smile on her face when Peter gave her the bag of food we brought for them. 

As you probably already know from the work we have done, we are the very first group of volunteers working on this particular project.  We are also the first volunteers to stay at Marianna and Victor’s bed-and-breakfast.  I can tell you that we trae voluntares are proud of this.  There is a special feeling you get when you help someone begin to put their dream/vision in action.  I feel very honored and cannot say enough positive things about the kindness and generosity we have been shown.

Victor has been having a hard time comprehending how/why we come from so far away and pay to work.  He says he understands that we like the deep cultural experience…but not why we want to do hard work.  The only answer…for me…is that my time and energy here is WELL worth it.  I KNOW this experience will change the way I travel in the future and it has brought my thinking, understanding, and compassion to deeper levels.  Learning about a different way of life has been extremely meaningful and inspirational.


Third Work Day March 24, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — travelingvolunteer @ 11:54 am

We trae voluntares did a great job today!  At least that is what Peter said. 🙂  Luckily we had more of a chill day yesterday, because today was definitely more strenuous.  After clearing the land of the corn stocks and breaking down the fence and cement wall, we were ready for the first BIG truck delivery.  AND…in that truck was a ton of rock…really I don’t know exactly how much it was…but it was A LOT!!!  It was cool to watch the truck come on to the land and dump the rock.  The truck was soooo heavy that it left several deep ruts in the ground.  We were fortunate that the truck dumped a few different piles, instead of one big one, and from there we spread it out.  Doing this will allow other heavy vehicles to drive on the land with the equipment and supplies for the project.

We were fortunate again to have the help of Peter’s cousin, Catalin.  He has experience in construction and has organized teams to build homes, so he is a valuable asset to have around.  He also speaks English and is very kind and shares his experiences and stories with us.  He has been around the world via bar tending on cruise ships for 4 years…this is also how he learned English.   I can’t say enough how amazed I am at how many people we run in to that do speak English.  One of the women who stopped by the site yesterday from the village also spoke some English.  I am trying very hard to learn some words in Romanian to reciprocate, but I am sure my pronunciation and accent totally botch what I am trying to say. 

Yesterday, when we went to the Roma community, we learned that the Roma people get monthly stipends from the town…depending on the number of children they have (I believe that is the correct understanding).  Today, when we went to the Town Hall for a restroom break, we got to see the Roma people waiting for these payments.  It was very interesting to see how this is organized.  The people gather around Town Hall and there is a security person.  The security person lets them in one-by-one to collect their payments.  I enjoy seeing in action what I learn and wish I had my camera to capture the moment…but we were just going to use the restroom…who knew!

Even though today was very tiring work, it was a beautiful day.  However, the sun seems hotter when you are doing intensive manual labor.  The one item I took out of my suitcase before the trip was sunscreen.  So…tonight I look like Rudolph the Rednose Reindeer. 😉  Doing this type of work really makes you appreciate the people who do it for a living.  Peter and Catalin were very patient and kind and we could take water and shade breaks whenever we felt the need.  Something I read before this trip, and have noticed is this culture is more laid back with their work.  They are very hard workers, just not intense about it.  It has made me feel more comfortable…especially since this type of work is not something I am use to.  I will say this though…I will never look at a gravel road or gravel anything the same way again.

My husband reminded me, from my post yesterday, that with everyone doing small things…big things get accomplished.  This is so true and very important for me to remember…and it is amazing how much these small steps WILL impact the lives of 10 families and bring and education center to the village. 

Now for some pictures!

Since I shared more about the Roma community, I wanted to post a couple more pictures I took yesterday.  I was just so touched from our visit there and I hope the pictures convey it to some extent for you.  Also, I asked Simona of anything, what is it that this community needs help with.  Than answer…jobs…and they do want to work.

Another touching moment.  This little guy is chopping wood…I will let the picture speak for itself.

This is the BIG truck coming on to the land through the clearing we made yesterday.  One thing that was cool about the gravel is not only did we get to see it get dumped on the land, but we also got to see the plant where it came from.  AND…astonishingly, no advance order was necessary.  We went in the morning and Peter ordered and it was delivered within the hour.

Here is the truck dumping the gravel. 

It sure was fun to watch!  Then…it was time to shovel.

I know this may not seem like a very exciting picture and it may not look like a lot of gravel, but we worked very hard to spread it out so I wanted to show you…just imagine us each with a shovel and a wheel barrow.  Again, I am so thankful I don’t have to do this everyday and think a lot of those who do this work on a daily basis.

I just ate a piece of Dove dark chocolate…Mmmm…and how fitting the message was on the inside of the wrapper:  Do something for someone less fortunate today.

Napte buna to you all!


Second Work Day March 23, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — travelingvolunteer @ 1:44 pm

Hello from Romania!  Today was our second work day on the project, but not near as physically challenging…at least for the trae voluntares!  We wake up every morning to a wonderful breakfast of bread, jam, cereal, juice, coffee, and eggs.  Then…off to work we go!  Today, before starting work, Peter took us to a Roma community.  Someone from the Town Hall in social services went with us as a guide to share information and answer questions.  We walked from the Town Hall to the Roma community and it was a nice walk with more horse and buggy carts as well.  We have been very lucky so far to have very nice weather…we couldn’t have picked a better week. 

It is really quite amazing and unbelievable how this Roma community lives….and Simona said that it will vary from community to community…some worse…some better.  I did not know what to expect, but this community was very welcoming…and curious I think as well to some extent.  As we walked through the street people came out of their homes, children were playing, and it seemed as if they were happy to have us.  They seemed to enjoy us taking their photos and giggled when you would show it to them.  We were there to learn more about them and that we did. 

After this very informative cultural lesson, off to the work site we went.  Today was the day we needed to take down a portion of the fence and break down the cement wall so big trucks could access the land with supplies.  Breaking down the fence was the easy part…we probably did this in a half hour.  However, the cement wall was another story.  Luckily, Peter’s cousin came to help us today as well.  It wasn’t too long before it was determined that a bigger and stronger jack hammer (at least I think that is what they are called) was needed.  Once the right tool was in hand, the excitement began.  But really…all we trae voluntares did was shovel a little dirt and move broken cement.  The power tools were a little wild for us and as you will see by the pictures, the people from the village really helped out.  Also, it is probably safe to say that we were all very sore from our hard work yesterday.  Just standing up and sitting down reminded us of this.

Even though we trae voluntares felt pretty useless, we did act as sort of “cheerleaders” when big chunks of cement would crumble down.  AND…I was just amazed at how many people from the village stopped by to find out what was going on, offering help, and even showing us some of their own craftsmanship in other trades.  Indeed, a very friendly village it is.  Even the politia (police) stopped by to make sure that there was a safe place to keep the tools at night.  They came to help out, not to issue warning or for something bad.  I found this to be interesting…in a good way!

Our walk up to the Roma community…isn’t it beautiful!!!  Of course I had to capture it with a horse and buggy! 🙂

One of the Roma homes we saw.  We learned that the Roma people built their own homes.  Pretty amazing…huh?!

The Roma children playing in the street.  Unfortunately, children in this community to not get much of an education because their families do not have the means to do so.  Just imagine how this factors into their future opportunities.

Families gathered in the streets as we walked through.  I can’t say it enough…a deep feeling ran through me when walking through this community and learning more about it.

This home you see here was probably the best home we saw in the community…maybe only one other even close to it.  Compare to the first picture…there can be a difference within the community even, but most of the homes were not like this.  I asked if there was a hierarchy or anger when there is a home this nice in the community and Simona said that it depends…on if someone came in and helped them and not the others, or did they work hard and do it themselves.  Makes sense to me.

No one lives in this home now…but someone did!

The mother in this family has twins (the smaller boys) and she was so excited to get her picture taken that she went and made sure both were in the picture.  We showed them the pictures when we were done and the smiles on their faces were wonderful!

Isn’t this just the sweetest picture!

Remember the picture of the wires I showed you in Bucharest…look at this!!!  This is a long and thin stick in the ground with wire wrapped around it going to the Roma houses.  Talk about dangerous, but this community is happy to even have electricity.

Not all of the Roma homes have running water.  This girl got her water from a spring, like in the picture I posted yesterday, and carried it back with her.  The next time you turn on your faucet…be thankful!

Before picture of the fence and cement wall that need to come down.  We only took about 9 meter of fence and wall down…enough for big equipment and supplies to get on the land.

Picture from the street of the guys working on breaking down the cement wall.  In the picture left to right, Peter, Peter’s cousin, Brian.  The project site is in Haghig, Romania.

This gentleman was just walking by and asked what we were doing.  He is a retired Hungarian man who lives in the village.  I believe this particular village in Haghig, Romania is where Hungarians had settled.  He has done this type of work all of his life and was very proud to show the other guys up using the jack hammer. 🙂  He had half of the 9 meters we needed to break down in an amazing amount of time.  He would just look at us and give a little nod when a would get a big chunk off.  He did all that work to help I am guessing because their mentality in this village is that they work hard, but he also worked because he wanted the 3 metal poles that stuck out of the cement.  Peter happily gave them to him.  I gained so much just from the local villagers who stopped by.  Just amazing!!!!

AND…the finished product!!!  The man on the left (also Hungarian) is another villager who came by and helped, but also showed us some of his work he does with wood and even the tools he uses to create his art.  They were so open to sharing their lives with us.  Peter’s cousin is in the middle, and the gentleman in the blue jacket is the one from the picture above.  They did an awesome job!

My family in Romania:  Left to Right – Brian, Kathe, Marianna, Victor, Simona, Peter.  Tonight our dinner conversation consisted of more details of the Roma community as well as the homeless situation in our part of the world. 

Even though work was not strenuous today, it was very rewarding.  I was able to capture some video as well and will put together a little movie consisting of pictures and video sometime after I get back home.  I am ready for bed and most of you are in the middle of your day.  Enjoy and Napte Buna!


Just a little perspective so you can envision my stories a little more.  Simona and Peter both speak English.  They have been translating everything for us.  Marianna and Victor do not speak English.  This, to me, is what makes the conversations so lively.  Hearing conversations in Romanian is fascinating to me.  It is almost as if they use so much expression when they speak.  I could just sit and listen to them talk all day I think.  Brian, one of the volunteers, helps translate the metric system…which has been extremely helpful.  So, it has been very nice to have everyone help out to make the experience that much nicer! 

I also wanted to let you know that the videos I posted yesterday…Simona is the voice you hear as the narrator and the person talking with the families.  She is the driving force with the vision behind this project.  You can also visit their website at


First Day Working on Project March 22, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — travelingvolunteer @ 1:27 pm

We just finished eating and had a great conversation for the last couple of hours.  I can’t say it enough again that I love it here!!!  I feel as if we are part of a family…Simona, her husband Peter, mother Marianna, and step-dad Victor…along with three volunteers all staying under the same roof.  Tonight we had a delicious dinner of home-made soup, then mashed potatoes with b-b-q.  Mmmm…..  Then came a very exciting conversation on Romania and communism, when communism fell and how it affected the people, the pros and cons of communism and their way of life today, and how difficult it is for Romanians to get a Visa to visit the United States….it is nearly impossible for them!  This conversation lasted for about an hour and it was enthusiastic and sharing of many points of view in an honest and respectful way.  Some people may not have liked being part of this type of conversation, but this is exactly what I was hoping for.  A point of view from a locals of questions I have asked myself.  I must have had the biggest grin on my face the entire time. 🙂

Today we started our project and I think I can say that we are tired tonight!  Let’s just say that I haven’t enjoyed a hot shower like I did tonight.  It is worth every bit of energy exerted because Simona and her husband have a great vision and drive to the lives better for those in the community.  They have inspired me! 

So, in the morning we geared up in our work clothes, ate breakfast, and headed out.  Our first stop was to the Town Hall to see the Mayor of the town where the project is.  He gave the land to Simona and Peter for their project.

On our way out of the Town Hall a cute little horse and buggy went by.  This is common in this area…more of these than cars.  They went past the work site throughout the day and I just loved hearing the clitter-clatter of the hoofs. 

This is the work site…take notice of all of the corn stocks sticking out of the ground.  This was the first phase…pulling out all of the corn stocks covering 15,000 square feet of land!!!  And I can proudly tell you that 4 of us did it!  Peter was the host today since Simona could not come with us because she teaches kindergarten during the week, so her and Peter work together and they are both very easy-going and informative.  After we pulled the corn stocks we put them into piles and burned them. 

The Trae Voluntares = three volunteers (me, Brian, and Kathe)  We are on a well deserved water break. 🙂

After our work day was complete at the site, Peter took us to a fresh spring to get some cold water.  This spring is also where the horses can re-hydrate.  I was absolutely fascinated by the horse and buggies and how many there were.  In the village we were working in that was the main mode of transportation.

Simona and Peter also created a video about a year ago regarding their project I want to share with you.  It will give you insight into what they are creating.

Part 1

Part 2

Well, it is late and I am WAAAYYY tired and need to rest up for another work day tomorrow, but I wanted to get pictures posted for everyone while I had the chance….enjoy!  I also updated previous posts with pictures.  Napte buna (good night).