Thursday, September 25, 2008

Fulbright Orientation Day - Bucharest

Orientation meetings all day, followed by a finger-food reception in an Embassy building in the evening. Lots of very nice people provided us with lots of useful skinny on living and teaching in Romania. They also provided insight into the worldwide community of Fulbrighters. It is not a small community. There were about twenty of us newcomers to Romania. If the U.S. is sending that many to 100 or more nations, and welcoming about the same number to the U.S. A., the Fulbrighters must number in the hundreds of thousands by now. It is an important role we play, as we are here in peace and good will, and will be working directly with Romanians in the interests of both our own and our host countries. For me, it is a chance to give something back to my beloved country, for I did not serve in my youth (The Navy refused me when I applied for Naval Aviation back in 1964. I confessed to having had hay fever!).

Speaking of aviation, our meeting presentations were punctuated at one point by some "thunder" that to me sounded more like this going on above the building. Tomorrow my fellow Fulbrighters and I are scheduled to visit some points-of-interest in the Bucharest area, else I would be there.

My "classmates" in Romania seem a great bunch. I won't describe them all, but as the year goes on, my readers are likely to hear of many encounters with them. We were encouraged to form a network of mutual support, and I am one of two or three who will be in Cluj. By the way, I am by some years the senior member of this class of Fulbrighters, a fact which makes me feel even more fortunate to have been chosen.

I was especially happy finally to meet Mihai Moroiu, our Romanian Program Director at the Romanian Fulbright Commission (Fulbright-RO). Mihai chaired the orientation program, which went off with the calm efficiency I have come to count on when working with him by e-mail.

Among many other things, I learned in conversations today that the Szekelers and the name Szekely (mentioned yesterday) are Hungarian, not German, but that Mihaela was correct that those villages were German in origin, built by Saxons living in Transylvania. I had read before coming over that there were some 400,000 ethnic Germans in Transylvania before the Second World War, but that the Holocaust and postwar emigration back to Germany had reduced that number by over 90%.

When I got back to the hotel, I found Mr. Andy H's comment (in yesterday's comments) to the exact same effect. Thanks for reading and commenting, Andy! You have the distinction of being our first non-family participant in this blog. Welcome! I hope you are enjoying my narration, and that we someday will meet.

Another thing I learned was the name of the monastery we visited yesterday. It is Cozia. I will upload pictures of the interior frescos one day soon. My camera is not here right now.

I am at the hotel early, and have posted early: not yet 10:15. A chance for some much-needed rest. I have been going hard for the past ten days. Such a pace seems endemic in Romania. A hard-working people live here.

1 comment:

SKM said...

Appears that you are already learning a lot about Romania, Fulbrighters, UBB, history, geography, and other professors.
Soon you be learning about teaching two courses, reading assignments, grading, and the best way to teach in Romania.
Have a blast! (And good luck.)