One of the main reasons the Romania Semester has become such a well-known and well-rated study abroad program is because of its close relationship and work with the New Horizons Foundation (NHF). NHF was founded by the study abroad program director Dana Bates and his wife Brandi in 1999. For the past 15 years they have been doing incredible grass-roots sustainable development work in the town of Lupeni, Romania.

The New Horizons Foundation:

Imagine youth that are truly involved in real social change. Imagine youth petitioning their mayor and gaining 1,500 signatures to get speed bumps installed to protect innocent lives. Imagine youth getting the first ecological outhouse installed in a key area of a National Park. Imagine youth raising money to buy a milk cow for an orphanage so it can be more self-sustaining. Imagine youth full of courage, compassion, perseverance, able to define success and pursue their dreams.

Now imagine these youth learning key skills like project management, problem solving, teamwork, communication, and innovation and creativity -- skills that are not taught in the current educational system. In other words, can you imagine real development happening in Romania and in the world? Can you imagine this next generation of youth becoming change agents, problem solvers, expressing compassionate competence and entrepreneurial energies for the public good? If you can imagine this, if you can dream this, then you have just envisioned the work of New Horizons Foundation. 

The mission of New Horizons Foundation is to promote top quality experiential education models that advance life skills among youth as a means for sustainable development. The Foundation envisions a world where all young people are empowered to act on behalf of the common good. New Horizons Foundation (NHF) runs non-formal education programs, nationally and internationally, and is primarily geared towards youth aged 12-18.

New Horizons Foundation has created two innovative non-formal educational programs for youth: the VIATA Program (an adventure education program consisting of an annual summer youth camps) and the IMPACT Program (an international network of Community Initiative Clubs for youth). The working methods of NHF programs include service learning and adventure education. In 2006, New Horizons Foundation received the diploma of excellence from the National Authority for Youth in recognition of the IMPACT program’s merits. And in 2010, NHF was awarded second prize in the Education Awards Gala in the section “NGOs of the year in the education field” for continued excellence of its educational programs.

During your time as a student here in Lupeni you have the chance to work closely with the New Horizons staff and their methodology. You will receive a training in the world renowned IMPACT program and later work weekly with local IMPACT clubs. You will also have the chance to spend a few days at the VIATA ropes course, participating in elements yourself while also learning more about the processes of Experiential Education used by the New Horizons Foundation.