As mentioned in a post on Bucharest, Angloville is an amazing organisation. They run ‘conversation camps’, bringing together a group of volunteers who all speak English as a native language, as well as those looking to develop there skills in the language. Taking part in a junior Angloville, I got to spend time with 19 amazing kids and volunteered alongside 9 of the most interesting people I had ever met. The concept was simple – the native speakers would have hour slots to speak to the children (which rotated constantly), as well as guiding two mentees to produce a five minute, all English presentation.
After meeting on a tour, and having a meal filled with Romanian delicacies, our reunion for an early bus journey was jovial and optimistic. New native speakers joined us, and the journey was spent chatting, bonding and quizzing each other over differing cultural traditions across the English speaking world. It truly is wonderful how different the world can be.
Rocketing through the Romanian countryside, I was struck by how truly rural this part of the world was. Cows wandered sleepily through fenceless fields whilst farmers used horse and carts to get around. It was as if time had stopped here, and whilst the rest of the world developed technology this little slice of Europe had kept its quaint charms of doing things the ‘right’ way.
Climbing up into the mountains, the hotel complex blossomed in front of our eyes. A beautifully rustic complex of lavish villas that stood proud and welcoming. The group assembled for a welcome meal and a meeting, before being allocated rooms in the villas.
Villa 6, my home for the week, was made up of myself, a fellow native from North Carolina, one of the coordinators of the programme and three of the nicest, yet cheekiest Romanian lads. It made an interesting mix, filled with pranks, politically charged discussions and quizzes about geography and history.
The week itself was filled with so much fun. From insightful conversations about what it meant to be Moldavian rather than Romanian, to what shopping is like in Leeds – any and every conversation was had. The kids were bright and funny, filled with optimism and positivity, and always wanting to put everything into it.
A conversation that really struck me was with a young girl called Teia. A self-confessed bookworm, for our conversation hour we talked of nothing but reading. Her eyes sparkled as I mentioned I was an English Literature student, and I spoke her through the type of things I studied, as she took notes about the possibility of studying something she loved at a further level. What amazed me was that she read her favourite books in English – saying that “it was more beautiful if it is in the author’s actual language”. For a 16 year old Romanian girl to be reading entire texts in English amazed me, and I felt ever so proud to have met such an outstanding individual.
Within a few minutes walk of the villas was two little, quaint Romanian villages that oozed rustic, rural charm. A simple church stood at the centre of the village, decorated in bright white and with an interesting sounding bell, it seemed to serve as the community’s hub. Adorned with a few shops and even a bar, the village seemed to forget abut the outside world, as the locals had everything they could possibly want around them.
The more the week progressed, the more I learnt about Romanian culture. This was my main motivation behind the week, as being from a Romanian heritage I knew little to nothing about my cultural background. Educating oneself on the heritage and ancestry is something I hold so close to myself, it really opened my eyes to learn about the people whom I had some belonging too.
Bringing the week to a close, our mentees were to give their five minute presentations, something that brought a tear to my eye. After working with two wonderful girls called Diana and Andreea for a whole week, I felt proud of anything they delivered, but they far surpassed anything I could have hoped for. Speaking confidently for five minutes on crazy fashion in perfect English, the pair managed to make people laugh, channel sarcasm and even mimic popular culture from the English speaking world. The two had really blossomed as the week had progressed, and the presentation really was testament to their resilience and hard work.
There was a sense of sadness when the week drew to a close, but it was one of the best weeks of my entire life – and an experience I will forever remember. The people, place and general attitude of everything was unrivalled, and it was an honour to learn more about my heritage direct from those from that culture. Thoroughly recommended to everyone to do, you can apply here.