Testimonials of Past New Horizons Interns and Social Work Practicum Students
New Horizons Foundation has been a host to many different types of internships and practicum studies in the past ten years. Students and interns have both impacted New Horizons, and have been changed by their experience in Romania. Their stories recorded here give an authentic voice to the transformative experience working with New Horizons and the people of Lupeni can make on your undergraduate or graduate education.
"I really enjoyed just being able to see the inner-workings of a "grassroots" international NGO. As someone who doesn't have an exact plan or specific major I definitely see myself working/volunteering for a similar type of organization... I think I've bought into youth development. It was kind of crazy to be reading Perkins'Beyond Charity book while in Romania because in the book he stresses creating 'home-grown' leaders... Reading that while working for New Horizons was really cool because that's really what they are trying to do with Romania's youth and it was even cooler because now that the program has been around awhile, you can see it in people like Cătă, Robi, and Cosmin (Romanian VIAȚA leaders)."
"My first full week as a Tabăra VIAȚA leader was truly an unforgettable one. To be nominated as the liderul săptămânii (leader of the week) is such an honor. The team of Romanian leaders quickly became like a family to me after just a few days, and I am extremely thankful for the bond we formed. Although we all come from different places around the world with different pasts, we all share one thing in common: to help the kids of VIAȚA learn moral values. It was a privilege getting to work alongside such a great group of individuals. This week has taught me all sorts of skills and improved my confidence in continuing into the future weeks of VIAȚA. Thank you for the many laughs this past week, and for continuously being patient with my questions trying to learn Romanian. I am excited for the memories we will create in these next several weeks together! Mulțumesc foarte mult (thanks so much)! "
“My Romania Semester experience was a really formative time for me in my life and professional development. [Interning at NHF] definitely impacted where I am today--I'm currently working for a community development organization that advocates for equitable access to land, capital, and mobility in the city of Pittsburgh. Also, interning with FNO really helped me adjust my expectations for what international development is like on the ground-- definitely some cool things sometimes. BUT also a lot of grant-writing and office work. I feel like it was a really valuable experience that really prepared me for the nonprofit sector even if at times it was a challenging experience as well.”
“When I arrived in Lupeni and Felipe told about the project, I was excited to be able to participate in fundraising, but also sort of skeptical. The projected amount we needed to raise to build the climbing gym was $20,000, which is a lot of money. One of the problems we faced fundraising for a new building and new equipment was that most foundations do not give money to capital campaigns, nor are they eager to fund unproven initiatives. Foundations like to support things that are already working. The climbing gym initiative was unproven and it wasn't clear that there would be a positive response.
Over the semester that I was interning, we learned more about the community and the need a climbing gym could fulfill. We found out that there had been a climbing club in the Jiu Valley when the mines had still been in operation. We learned more about how a climbing gym could help IMPACT clubs have a place to take their kids, how it could be incorporated into VIATA camp, and how it could provide healthy physical activity in the winter for area kids.
Shortly after I arrived, we began working on a crowd-funding campaign to raise the first $10,000. It was really amazing to see friends, relatives, church members, and friends of FNO from all walks of life support the climbing gym. With a few days to spare, we reached our goal! We had the seed money to start the climbing gym and I was so proud of how the hard work Felipe and I had put into raising it.”
“I do like the mountains- looking at them when I wake up, to see if they are misty or clear; formidable or inviting today. I like the piata with its stacks of fruit and vegetables. I like the elderly ladies with their headscarves and long skirts and the old men with tall hats and checkered sweaters. I like eating bread with every meal. I like branza and smantana and ciorba and langosi. I like Romanian words that are cognates of English ones, but nicer-sounding and easier to spell. And I like the rhythm of my life here. I walk out the door every day knowing I am on an adventure.
But what I like most about Romania is the people. The people are what I let myself get attached to.
The people are why it will be hard to leave. I have been welcomed by a family and a church and an office, all full of smiling faces and grace for my minimal understanding and a quick readiness to teach me the ways of how it goes around here. It is conversations with my new- not so new anymore! family and friends, not impressive sights- which are changing the way I think.”