When Learning English Is a Dream

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It was a quiet evening in my friends’ backyard. There was no need for many words. We sat around a table with a bowl of fresh strawberry under the setting sun.
Cornelia was my English teacher in the 70’s. My first English teacher. Studying English language in a communist country was a great deal. When I finished 4th grade, my older friends were already learning Russian, and the best scenario, French. I surely hoped to learn Spanish to be able to chat with Julio Iglesias or even better, English, because I loved Roger Moore and John Wayne as well.
My parents, workers in a shoe factory at that time, didn’t have other dream for their daughter but to be a doctor. And here I am starting my 5th grade and learning that I was placed in an English class. It was an unexpected reaction of the communist government to the first American president who visited Romania, to allow the study of the English language in some schools.
Cornelia came from another city and I loved her from the first moment I saw her. Focused, professional, knowledgeable and with a warm heart, she helped me build my dream, and we remained friends over the years.
After High School I wanted to study English to be an English teacher, but I was denied by the regime. They saw in me a potential danger against the communist ideals. They didn’t want me to be an educator, but I became one anyway.
I caught Cornelia’s sight across the table and smiled. She patted my hand and whispered, “I love you.”
I whispered back, “I love you, too.”

Romanians, And What’s On Our Mind

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Every culture focuses on something. Romanians focus on not running out of food. It’s an “inheritance” from the communism regime. The food was scarce. We obtained it with much sacrifice and stress. Now, after 25 years, we try to deal with that residue the best we can. Because Romanians have plenty of food on the market now, but it’s expensive. The same stress and sacrifice. The biggest chunk of the income goes to buy food.
We become pretty animated in the markets and food stores, especially people over 40. How much is enough? One of my pastors used to ask. He gave the answer as well, “A little more.” This is the Romanians mind set when it’s about buying and making food. Too much. We know it and we do it again and again.
Romanian ladies know how to cook. In case of famine, we can make almost anything from anything. It’s in our gene to be resourceful.
What do we like most? Meats and sweets.
We know how to grow our own vegetables and fruit, and raise chickens, pigs and cows. Cutting poultry to provide meals for our families is not a problem. One chicken can feed a big gang.
We know how to make our own bread. We bake a lot. We have our family recipes from hundreds of years and we share them.
We can meat, vegetables and fruit, make our homemade juices, preserves and pickles.
We try to imitate this guy Paul who said, “I know how to live in lack and know how to live in abundance.”
We try.

Romanians – The Way We Are

maxresdefaultAs I’m getting immersed in the culture of my birth country for a little while again, there are a few things that make me think.
1- The beautiful environment of my green and colorful city is filled with cigarette smoke. The air can be unbreathable. We smoke a lot.
2- Most of the time, we are friendly, especially with foreigners and visitors. We are helpful, ready to go the extra mile.
3- We walk on the street not on the right side like you might think, but claiming the entire sidewalk for ourselves. If we bump into you, it’s all right. You get used to it because we are in a hurry.
4- We still have the feeling that we are in an ongoing everyday existential battle with each other. It is the mentality from under the communism before 1989. We get suspicious when, in a line at an office, you go ahead only to ask a question. Stay in the line!
5- Every little store, office or area have strict rules. You have to place the shopping basket only under the moving belt in this store, or only at the end of the belt at another store, or…You can’t do what you want. It’s our store. You have to learn the rules.
6- We’ll feed you and your kids anywhere. If we eat in public, you get a piece of what we have. And yes, your kids would get chocolate, candies, and all kinds of sweets. It’s our way to say, “we care about you.”
7- We love to socialize. We have many friends. We love our friends. Friends and family make our life better. We drop by anytime for a coffee and a croissant. We call you when you are sick, get something for you from the market, share our recipes with you, know everything about you as you know everything about us, give you advice in any matter, tell you how to raise your kids, how much is our salary and how much is our mortgage. If your TV needs to be fixed, we know somebody who knows somebody to help you. We’ll invite you on vacation with us, or to spend the weekend at our parents, and you’ll get the best of everything.
We love you.