Posted by Natalie
The past week has literally flown by – I can’t believe we’re over halfway through the trip already! Although I can’t wait to get back and see family and friends, it does make me a little bit sad to think of having to leave when we’ve had such a good time so far.
Our second week spent in Arad was packed full of vocational days, cultural visits, and one or two nights of drinking one or two too many glasses of wine/tuica/cocktails (delete as appropriate).
I’ll try and run through as much as I can remember but apologies for anything I forget!
We arrived on Sunday after our wine tasting at Maderat, and was welcomed by Teo (owner of the Parc hotel at Moneasa) to his Arad hotel, Crisana. We arrived quite late, but Camelia from the Romanian GSE team took Matt and I on a quick drive around town, which looked beautiful by night, especially the town hall which is just a tad more impressive than most of those in the UK!
During the week we visited several schools, inlcuding one in a village called Santana, with a large number of gypsy students, where we were also able to visit a gypsy family to see the type of places they live.
We also visited a technological high school in the nearby town of Ineu, where they run a huge range of vocational courses with a great offer for students with special educational needs and a second chance programme for people who have previously dropped out of school but want to return.
Staying on the educational theme, we visited Camelia’s kindergarten, met her friend David who is 10 and speaks excellent English but is only interested in visiting America – we tried to convince him England was better but I’m not sure how well it worked! We also visited a few of the town’s social work projects, inlcuding an after school, a day centre for retired people, a centre for disabled people and a foster home with TEN foster children – amazing!
The team spent some time apart on individual vocational activities, which for me involved sitting down with Teo to talk about how he markets his hotels and the resort at Moneasa. It was really interesting and some of the things we talked about will definitely be good inspiration when I return to work.
I also had the chance to visit the local television station, Info TV, and watch their 6 o’clock news show being filmed – the studio was tiny and there was only the presenter, Diana, and one other person to put the whole thing together, which was very impressive!
On our last day, we were invited to a lecture at Arad University by Dorin Herlo, who as well as being a Rotarian is a lecturer in educational studies at the University. The lecture was on the subject of culture, and we asked to participate in creating a metaphor for culture and joining in with the discussions, which I think everyone found really interesting and really enjoyed (even if I was feeling ever so slightly worse for wear after the previous night…)
Speaking of, we had some great evenings last week, with an al fresco dinner hosted by Rotary member Liviu and his family (my favourite family member being Roxy, the tiny baby puppy – so cute!)
We gave our Rotary presentation on Tuesday and met lots of other Rotarians, and we were treated to a taste of Arad nightlife by Vini, a Brazilian exchange student who liked Romania so much he decided to stay – it’s not hard to see how that would happen based on our experience so far!
On Saturday we left Arad with sore heads but great memories and some new friends who I hope we will stay in touch with and see again in the future.
We’re now in Week 3, in Bistrita, and I will try and post more regular updates on what we’re doing here – looking at our schedule it should be another great week!