ARTS FOR CITIZENS
During May through July 2017 the members of the Association ‘Friendship Ambassadors’ and twenty-seven students from the ‘Balasa Doamna’ Art High School in Târgoviste participated in the creative project ‘Arts for a citadel’. The students used various media (photography, collage, graphic work, painting, graffiti) to portray positive and negative aspects from their life in the local community. The project was intended not only to channel the students’ creative energy towards subjects they may address in their future careers, but also to engage and encourage the local community to receive openly the praise and the criticism expressed as art, and use it as a mirror reflecting the essence of their shared community space, viewed from the perspective of their teenage citizens.
The students addressed a wide range of topics: the state of the public roads, the deterioration of the historic monument ‘Curtea Domneasca’, the manipulation of the individual by the mass media, the time-sink the social media represents especially for the younger generation, etc. Eleven students’ artwork was displayed starting July 15th at the Fragilistic Bookstore and at the Arsenal Cafe&Bistro in Târgoviste.
The student artwork was also printed as postcards, which were used to raise funds for art supplies and future projects. The postcards also constitute a perfect vehicle to spread the message wide and far and to advertise the creative spirit of the students and their art throughout the community.
LEARN AND PAY IT FORWARD
On November 23, 2015 three Association members attended the National Conference organized by the ANPCDEFP team, which featured the results of four educational programs: ‘Lifelong learning’, ‘Youth in action’, ‘Erasmus+’, and ‘Financial mechanism of SEE’. Of the three Association members who participated, one is the inspector of educational projects and one is director of CJRAE Dambovita.
Although our Association was not funded by these programs, our participation was beneficial because the speakers presented on topics very similar to those addressed by our own initiatives and projects. Our participating members also benefited by interacting, being inspired and exchanging ideas with the greater community of people who implement positive change through education in Romania.
Cristina Rigman, executive director of Pro Vobis – National Center for Volunteering, presented her organization signature contribution – the Legal Framework of Volunteering in Romania, as well as several successful projects designed to establish a culture of meaningful volunteering in our country. We also learned about the Project Leonardo, designed to train health assistants who wish to integrate within the European work marketplace. Călin Dorin with Junior Achievement Romania described their training courses, which are offered to children and students of all ages, and employ teaching methods used in private companies to develop entrepreneurial competencies. Of great interest was the presentation by the Center for Independent Journalism, describing the philosophy and educational activities centered around mass-media and human rights. Specifically, Mihaela Danga, program coordinator, together with a student-participant, presented examples on topics such as non-discrimination, hate-speech, advocacy campaigns, social theatre.
Otilia Apostu with the Education Sciences Institute presented the initiative started in 2003 focused towards school drop-outs. Ruxandra Sasu with Pact Foundation for Community, a group formed in 2006 in Bucharest, talked about coaching, facilitating, consulting and sponsoring of projects in communities with a population less than 30,000 citizens. Oana Preda with CeRe – the Resource Ceter for Public Participation – presented another example of community project, which changed the mentality and the dynamics between citizens and public authorities.
The most impressive example of a successful project was the one from Cluj – the Youth Capital of Europe. Andras Farkas, co-founder of Pont Group, presented a new concept of financing – participative budget – and several initiatives which took place within COM’ON Cluj-Napoca.
Florin Ghinda, the charismatic founder of Positive Romania platform, challenged the participants to not only make incremental changes or to demolish what we perceive as fundamentally wrong with the reality which surrounds us, but to collaborate in building a new society.
The project partners who received funding from the European Union or other European entities had their efforts recognized by awards and felt the deep appreciation of the delegates present in the room for their vision and efforts to implement change in Romania through education. All participants received gift umbrellas, very useful for the rainy days following the conference, and were given the opportunity to design a visual message inspired by the Conference theme. You are familiar with ours already.
The afternoon workshops focused on four key community pillars: the school, the University, the public institutions, and the non-profit organizations. Each participant was given the opportunity to describe their experience with two of the four pillars while participating in group discussions moderated by members of ANPCDEFP. We were guided by the questions posed by Nicoleta Neagu and Radu Stoica to analyze the impact that our work has on the community, as well as the expectations we have from the community. We discussed what is the motivation driving the involvement of the University in the community, and how can we draft a public policy stemming from our area of influence.
The plenary session ended with a presentation by Florin Popa of a study funded by the European Commission focused on education and coaching.
Andrei Popescu, the host of the Conference, gave an inspiring farewell, and we parted hoping that the seeds of change planted through education will result in the creation of communities where everyone will chose to live.