Sunday, June 14, 2009

Farewell, Latest Lover!

Though it traces its roots to a Jesuit school founded in 1581, prior to 1919 all teaching at the university we know today as Babeş-Bolyai was either in Hungarian or in Latin. Ninety years ago, with the unification that incorporated Transylvania as a region of Romania following World War I, the new Romanian-language Babeş University was founded in Cluj. About forty years ago, under the Communist government, Babeş-Bolyai University was formed by the merger of Cluj's Hungarian-speaking institution of higher learning with its Romanian-speaking one, and together they formed the amazing multicultural, polylingual university in which I have taught this year.

To celebrate the Nintieth Anniversary of there being a Romanian University in Cluj, Rector Marga today hosted a glorious musical event at the UBB Auditorium Maximum. The concert lasted almost three hours, and I wept each hour. First, I was moved to tears by the beauty of the music provided by the Transylvanian Symphony Orchestra. Then came a romantic operatic duet performed by a magnificent tenor and soprano from Bucharest. Then, I wept with emotion at having to leave Romania when traditional folk singers came on stage in their regional finery, and sang Romanian tunes.

I will detail the concert in a later post, for it deserves a full report. For now, suffice it to say, 'tis trrrrue: "We Scots ha'e but two emotions, weepin' and angerrrrr." Today, mine wa' weepin'.

And, to make perfect the event as a cultural culmination of my Romanian Fulbright adventures, during the standing ovation that followed the finale (Brahms' "Academic Overture," which ends with the famous theme known as "Gaudeamus Igitur"), the world-famous Romanian soprano Florentina Văduva tossed a rose from her bouquet to the audience, and I caught it.

Upon reflection, of course it was I who caught Florentina's rose. If this year has taught me anything, it is that there are no coincidences. She was but Fair Romania, bidding farewell to her latest lover.


Trepid Explorer said...

What a lovely Blog Duncan, which I stumbled across today, trying to remind myself how to say, "good day" in Romania so I can show my colleagues a little courtesy. It's 8 years since I left Romania and not a year has gone by without me thinking of that beautiful place.

She will never leave your heart.

Sounds like you had a wonderful time.

Frank said...

Indeed, what a perfect ending!

I've enjoyed your blog a lot. I hope you won't be too bored with little Plymouth State and our single-language students.

My question is, what am I supposed to read with my lunch now?


Duncan McDougall said...

"Buna ziua!" Trepid. Thank you for the comment. Please write again and describe your time in Romania.

Frank: Plymouth and Campton won my heart in 1972 and 1973, when I came to respect the dedicated employees of Beebe River. New Hampshire's fine folk helped to win me Shirley! I will miss Cluj and look forward to returning to Romania. But my home is my home.

Phil said...

Dear Sir,

I read with interest your fine postings on your time in Romania. I visited in 1996 and 2001, and do miss the country very much!

I wonder if you have have opportunity to read both sides of the story to the Babes/Bolyai University's consolidation under communist rule. (I find reading only the Romanian OR the Hungarian version leaves one supporting that particular perspective, given the passion and particular focus each "side" provides.

Reading and comprehending both, however, is most challenging considering their long history of animosities and the few informed outsider accounts available. The jury may be out, and the past is the past, but I felt it wise to post this link as a first-step toward impartiality:

Phil in St. Louis
(Of Hungarian heritage but with Geo. Washington's very skeptical view of European intrigues...)

All the best!

Duncan McDougall said...

Dear Phil:

Thank you for the excellent comment. I have tried to hear both sides, or should I say "all sides," for in Romania there are often more than two to many stories. I had heard some of the sad tales of intense feelings that your link tells. UBB has a museum, and the professor who runs it tells the story of the merger in considerable detail.

May we both get back to Romania, and may we perhaps neet one day!


Peter Fogarty said...

You summed up Romania wonderfully - it is a place which you will fall in love with if you give it time.

At the moment, I am trying to build up a photo library of great pictures of Romania, and I would be thrilled if you would consider adding one of your pictures of Romania onto my site ( ), along with a comment about why you liked that particular place so much.

I love it when people show the country I love in such a positive way!

Anonymous said...

Mr. McDougall, Thank you for your comments.

I just completed my work analyzing the Hungarians in Romania's attempt to achieve autonomy within the country, and survived my panel examination alive!

Receiving my actual masters degree in International Affairs at Washington University in St. Louis in just a few weeks, I would love to teach history and/or political science over in Europe or serve in another useful capacity. As you have found, having an American perspective is quite valuable, as is having an world perspective here in the US!(I have been teaching primarily computers and government for a local career college 8 years where the utilization of what I know is quite limited!)

If you have any leads in that realm, and/or would like to read my paper, please let me know! My wife is European and would love to be much closer to her family overseas.

Wishing you all the best!


Phil Bognar
philteach AT