An interesting aspect in our EVS life is that we end up being somehow the ambassadors of our countries here, in Calabria. Part of that is making some presentations about our countries in school. Until now, only in Istituto Fille Maria Ausiliatrice in Soverato.
How can you present a country with such a long an complicated history in 50 minutes to 9-11 yo students? I would normally speak about social and civic movements, about our film industry in recent years and the Transilvania International Film Festival (TIFF) which changes the atmosphere of Cluj every year in spring; about what hospitality means for us – a sip of țuică and a lot of traditional food -, about the different styles of architecture, from wooden churches of Maramureș to albastru de Voroneț (an apparently unique type of blue people used to paint the Monastery in Voroneț, in Bucovina) and up to the beautiful old buildings, such as the National Theatre or the Alexandru Ioan Cuza University in Iași, my hometown.
(c) Ioana Brănișteanu, Iulia Nicodin
Also, about the breath-taking views on top of high mountains or the sandy beach in the middle of the Letea forest in the Danube Delta, the best-preserved natural Delta in Europe. Leaving the typical touristy places behind, I would speak about the protests in January 2017, the largest we had in Romania since the fall of communism.
I would add to the presentation even some drawings by Dan Perjovschi and his wall in Sibiu (pictures above), and I would also speak about the marginalized communities at the outskirts of Cluj, in Pata Rât and the indifference of authorities to many social problems. Or also about how the civil Romanian society works, day after day, many times fighting public authorities and private companies, to preserve our nature from cyanide mining, from illegal deforestation by Austrian companies, from pollution or excessive hunting. Romania means so many things to me and I doubt I could ever define it in just some pictures and a bunch of words.
Yet, I had to go back to the basics and relate to what the students already knew. Since they are studying the Roman empire at the moment, you can imagine how far away in the past I had to go. Some video here, some photos there, trying to capture as much as possible in the simplest way possible. But the information I would normally consider essential was somehow left behind, since it would take forever to explain all of it.
All in all, I believe I managed to break down just a few stereotypes. And boy, don’t they have many here about Romanians! 🙂 My favorite one of all the ones I heard until now: there are two types of Romanians – one type I have never heard the description of (although I can easily have an intuition what they might refer to – probably the poor, unfortunately uneducated Romanians working low-paid jobs in Italy, forced by circumstances and neo-capitalism to migrate in search for better, although not yet decent lives in other countries) and the second one, to which I apparently belong as well, “the educated Romanians with University degree”. I would rather describe Romanians with University degree as a very diverse category of people who might only have in common the better opportunities in life they benefited from, compared to the ones without a degree, but that’s just me. 2 categories of people, for 20 million of them. Interesting, isn’t it? It never ceases to surprise me how perceptions are created and how, most of the time, people over-simplify in order to understand.
Some pictures from the presentations in schools, below.
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