Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Beginning

Our departure date coincided with Andrea’s birthday. Our chaperone Susie McGee made a Devil’s Food birthday cake with cream cheese frosting, which we all ate before leaving from Rivers that afternoon. After an anxiously awaited eight-hour flight, another hour flight, a final two and a half hour flight, followed by a two-hour bus ride, we finally made it to our hotel in Bistrita, Romania (Transylvania). Only one of our bags was lost! Although exhausted, Dan and Susie forced us to stay up in order to get used to the time-change. After dinner and discussing the pertinent history of Romania, we all instantly fell asleep at nine.
Waking up to the sounds of roosters cockadoodledooing outside our windows, we were eager to begin our first day of work. Alexandra from Fundatia Inocenti met us at the hotel, and we followed her to the office. There, we met Marin, the director of Fundatia Inocenti, and he provided an orientation of the history of their programs and our participation. We then split up into two groups to begin our work with the children. Leah, Alexis, Lindsay, and Kate went to the Hospital and Ryan, Andrea, Anna, and Alicia went to the Placement Center. At the Hospital, the group decorated bags with some of the kids and their mothers. At the Placement Center, the group played with the special needs children. The groups joined at noon for lunch.
In the afternoon, Leah, Alexis, Lindsay, and Kate went to the Placement Center. They made appreciation bracelets for the Romanian student volunteers. Following this activity, the four girls played with a group of ten Romanian girls in the Placement Center’s afternoon program. Ryan, Andrea, Anna, and Alicia went to Open Door, an after school program for local Roma (gypsy) children. Here, they played and interacted with the children. Natalie, the head worker at the program, left America after visiting Romania a few years ago. Struck by the difficult conditions present in the lives of Roma children, Natalie has dedicated the past three years working with a group of 12. This after school program not only provides running water and clean clothes for the children, but also assists the kids with school homework. The workers at Open Door give the children points, which in turn can be exchanged for prizes. This aspect provides motivation for the children to do extra work, which elevates their literacy.
Today, March 11, was not only our first day of work but Susie’s birthday. Throughout the day we all were so immersed in the work that even Susie herself forgot her birthday! At dinner we surprised her with a cake that we all shared. After the first day of work, the whole group feels impressed with the welcomes we have received. Also, the dedication of the Romanians working with these children has inspired us.
-La revedere! From the 2009 Romania Crew

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