Community, Drama Romania by Jodee Nuske
The story of my volunteering experience didn’t start based off a passion to volunteer, or an epiphany to help others. No, my story started with an ad on the internet, an ad that offered the experience of travel, along with the opportunity to help out communities and work with some amazing people. Needless to say, it grabbed my attention.
It redirected me to the Projects Abroad site, where I was informed about Projects Abroad and the type of projects that they offer. After looking through the many types of projects, and the fabulous locations, there was a particular project that I kept going back to, teaching English/Drama in Romania.
Not knowing anything about the country did not hinder my willingness to go and seek out more about the project. The staff at Projects Abroad was more than helpful with all the questions I had about the project, costs, accommodation, etc. It wasn’t long before I had made up my mind and had the flights booked for a three month stay in Romania!
Having never travelled to another country before, I was extremely nervous. I had a 23 hour trip ahead of me before I would reach Brasov, Romania and had no idea of what to expect. After a 14 hour flight to Qatar and then a five hour flight to Bucharest, I was finally in Romania!
My first impressions of Romania were one of beauty, the open fields that surrounded many of the towns and cities, to the mountains where waterfalls and rivers flowed. It was quite amazing to walk and climb The 7 Stairs Canyon, located just outside of Brasov in the Piatra Mare Mountains. It is quite a hike, but well worth it. I was very fortunate to experience a Winter Christmas in Romania, having little experience with snow I was running around like a little kid when the snow finally came.
My Drama placement
My days usually started around 8am, a quick 10 minute walk to the bus stop before heading into the city centre where I would normally meet the other Drama volunteers. We would head off to our destination shortly after. We taught at three schools, two located in Brasov and one in the nearby town of Codlea, which is a short 10 minute bus ride. Two of the schools consisted of secondary school students, whilst the other was primary. We also taught at a day care centre for the disabled.
Everyone that we taught, from young students to the older clients were really eager and excited to learn. A majority of the students were able to understand and communicate in English, which was very helpful to someone who struggled with the national language! Our final class was an after school group that joined us in the office every Tuesday. Our main focus for the project was to have this group perform a 30 minute show towards the end/start of the year. We quickly came to a decision to let the group write their own performance, needless to say, a lot of laughs were shared in the office.
During my secondary school years, I had a lot of fun in the drama department with improvisation and developing characters and scripts. So, I went into the project with a focus on improvisation and character development. I honestly feel that the classes really appreciated the opportunity to be able to be able to develop their own ideas and to act ‘silly’ at times. Having a classroom full of 30 students and seeing them work together, having a laugh at and with each other, I can see why people chose to go into teaching professionally.
Projects Abroad also allowed many opportunities to travel and experience more of Romania. Usually on the weekends, the volunteers would all travel around Romania and experience all the sights together as a group. Many laughs and vin fierts (hot wine) were shared during these weekends.
Last, but not least, my beautiful host family. I had the pleasure of living with Rodica and her family for three months. Rodica was always very keen to know how my days were and was always very happy to answer any questions I had. She did teach me a few Romanian sayings and helped me with the pronunciation of words (I’m still quite hopeless though).
The experience I had with Projects Abroad and my time in Romania cannot be expressed fully in words. It has allowed me to explore not only another country, but myself as well. Experiencing another culture and learning their way of life is an achievement for anyone that I would highly recommend.