On The Road Again

By Dani Duistermars on November 15, 2017

On October 29 the Romania students returned from a ten daylong fall break.  The break was full of travel and sightseeing.  While the trip was wonderful and full of amazing sights and experiences we came home exhausted and ready for some normal days again.  We had this for a week and then we were on the road again, this time for a week of learning with the organization.  While we were still a little tired we were excited for this next experience.

We started off the trip by heading out on Friday to Cluj, a city in the northwestern region of Romania.  That Saturday we spent the day at a conference put on by New Horizons directed towards educators in Romania.  We sat in on two lectures about the education system in Romania as well as how teachers can altar approaches they take in their classroom for teaching students. 

That Monday and Tuesday we had the opportunity to listen to professors from the university in Cluj from the political science department.  The lectures were over several topics, each interesting and providing an insight to the workings of Romania, both presently and life during communism.  We heard lectures from vocational and technical training in Romania to the life of women during the communist period. 

While we were learning in Cluj we also had time to explore and meet some people from the city.  We spent a night at the ballet watching Swan Lake as well as finding fun restaurants and coffee shops to rest in awhile.  Cluj has a large IMPACT or youth club, around 40 to 50 members, and we had the opportunity to meet with a few of the participants as well as the leader.  Hearing about their experience and the projects they work on gave a cool insight in to how these clubs are working outside of the Jiu Valley. 

After a few days spent in Cluj we headed to a village called Breb in Maramureș.  We spent our first night having traditional supper in the most welcoming woman’s home.  We were fed a cabbage soup, meat, potatoes, and delicious homemade cakes. 

Our first full day in Breb we had free, so we visited some sites around the area.  We started the morning off by going to the Barasana Monastery.  During our visit there was a service going on that was projected throughout the monastery over speakers.  We then went to Sighet to go through a museum made from a prison used during Communism.  This museum was dedicated to remembering the time period and many victims communism affected.  It is an effort not to forget a difficult time period Romania’s history. 

We had two more stops that day.  We had the opportunity to see the Elie Wiesel’s home that was turned into a museum.  We finished the day by going to the Merry Cemetary.  It’s a cemetary where the tombstones are beautifully carved and each have a poem about the person’s life and death, some being humorous and lighthearted. 

We ended our week by spending a day with a new IMPACT group from Breb.  We got the chance to teach them some games we played grow up, and they showed us a game they enjoy playing.  The parent supplied us with a delicious meal that is often eaten on Sundays.  It was a lunch that consisted of sarmale (cabbage rolls), and homemade bread.  The group and its leaders spent the day showing us around the village, stopping at traditional houses and showing us people who are skilled in areas such as textile making, beading, and wood working.  We ended our day trying on traditional Maramureș clothing. 

We were exhausted once again from another busy week, but we would have gone back and done it all again in a heartbeat.