Making Connections in Romania
My colleague and Coordinator of Southill Family Resource Centre (FRC) Jim Prior made a connection with Orizont Cultural T at a conference in Lithuania a few years ago. Our work is similar to the work of Orizont Cultural T who are based in Craiova, a city in the south west of Romania.
I met with Rodica Malia who works with Orizont Cultural T a non-government organisation working in the field of adult education. They help adults from vulnerable and marginalised groups, in particular older people and those who have left education without basic qualifications to access adult education. They support adults to participate in free training from languages courses to cultural events. Rodica spoke passionately about her work and I was really interested in the community arts element of the project. She told how education through arts brings important benefits for adults’ social inclusion and personal fulfilment, helping people to play an active role in their community. I can see the benefits myself in groups which I have worked with over the years.
Rodica brought us to one of the city parks where they often bring families as part of their projects. It made me think that we should use our City Park in Limerick when working on projects with groups and families. I also got the opportunity to meet members of the Board of Management at a cultural evening which was an enlightening experience. The organisation has benefited hugely from the involvement in European projects over the years. EU Grundtvig projects undertaken by them include: Elders Solidarity and Active European Citizens through volunteering in Italy and Spaces for Intercultural Learning in Finland.
Rodica brought me to the University of Craiova introducing me to students and teachers. The University covers a whole range of education and training to postgraduate certified courses. I spoke to mature students who told me that the admission process varies with universities in Romania. Some universities admission is based on school exam results but others are based on essays and interviews. The students explained that there are good employment opportunities for graduates of the university, especially in the fields of Engineering, Construction and IT.
Rodica and I visited Orizont Cultural T where we met the Director Mrs Silvia Cartu. The school is located in an area of high unemployment - where a lot of Romani gypsies live. The school caters for children up the age of sixteen and focuses on the teaching of English, French, IT and cultural activities. I met some parents who said they know they need to learn English and computers as it’s important to the lives of their children. The classes for the parents are also held at this school. A lot of parents have left the area to work in other European countries and may not return, as a result, the grandparents rear their children. The fact that some parents are away long term has had a devastating impact on their children. I was deeply saddened to hear this. Orizont Cultural T is involved in European projects, and the parents/grandparents are involved in learning about their own cultures and the cultures of other countries through these projects.
Learning from the mobility
Overall the trip was very informative and impressive. There were a lot of similarities between our organisations, as both our organisations work with those who didn’t have access to education when they were young. One of the main differences was the organisation also has a school for children.
From my experience I can see the benefits of European projects in relation to individual progression and how they are vital to the development of people living in European countries. Going forward I would like Southill FRC to get involved in a European project involving groups from different countries. The possibility of partnering with Orizont Cultural T in a future project with groups from each community has been discussed and hopefully will be realised in the future.
I would like to thank AONTAS for the opportunity of taking part in this project.