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Massive turnout among Moldovans abroad as lines form at polling stations

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According to data from the Central Electoral Comission, 73,546 Moldovans living abroad have voted in the presidential elections by 3:20 PM. This accounts to 6.23% of the total number of votes.

Massive lines have formed at polling places all across Europe.

An unprecedent number of Moldovans living abroad organised ride-shares and hosted other people who were expected to vote today. Groups on Facebook dedicated to elections in the diaspora have gathered up to 75,000 members.

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Diaspora

Stories from Diaspora / Irina Madan: “I live between two worlds and I try to bring them together”

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It’s time for a new story from Diaspora – the series of articles meant to demonstrate once again that there are so many exceptional people from Moldova who can move mountains even though they are far from their homeland.

This is a story of a dedicated and extremely creative woman – Irina Madan who gave a new definition to painting. She blends fashion with art painting and spices it up with traditional ornaments brought from Moldova. Each of her works is a unique masterpiece.

About the path to achieve her biggest dream

Irina is passionate about art and fashion design since her childhood. That was the moment when her talent started to crystallize. “I remember my favourite activity back then – drawing and making dolls’ clothes,” recalls Irina. She always wanted to learn professional painting but was given this opportunity only at the age of 19, when she took her first painting course in order to prepare for the entrance examination at the Academy of Arts in Chișinău. “The art education offered me the possibility to fulfil my childhood dream and showed me the path I want to follow,” she says. During the 5 years of activity, she managed to accomplish a lot of her dreams and tried to enjoy every step to her biggest dream.

“I dream of having my own fashion house, go to the street and see happy people dressed in my painted clothes. I want paintings to be dressed all over the world.”

About leaving home

It wasn’t easy to leave Moldova and to move to San Diego, a city located in California, the Unites States. “I faced many difficulties in the US, but there were beautiful things as well. Every day is a new challenge as one must start it from scratch,” states Irina. “San Diego is a truly artistic city and I am glad that I can live here.” A young artist like her manages to make a living by selling art work, but at the same time, there are many other possibilities for employment.

According to Irina, the hardest thing in the adaptation process is to cope with the internal struggle, not to surrender to the obstacles. “A part of my soul remained in Moldova because that is the place I was born in and that is the place where my dearest people live. That makes me think of home and miss it a lot,” Irina says. She returns home every half a year.

“I really wanted to make my dream come true at home, but from the inability to do it, I had to leave.”

Irina believes that a person that lives abroad can contribute to the well-being of his home country by promoting its values. “Most Americans do not know where Moldova is, although in California it happened several times to meet people who had heard about our country and had known more details about its history,” declares Irina. The thoughts about Moldova offer her peace of mind. “I always try to emphasize the beautiful things about my homeland. Moreover, I feel proud to represent Moldova through my creations that show how wonderful my country is,” Irina states.

About her works

The idea of painting on clothes came in 2013 while Irina was working on her bachelor’s graduation collection. The source of inspiration for her first collection was Venice – the city that helped our protagonist discover her vocation. “I did not know that I was going to create a hand-painted collection. I was sure that I won’t find such fabrics in the regular shops, so I started to produce it myself by painting it,” mentions Irina. In the summer of the same year, she obtained her bachelor’s degree in fashion design. At the beginning of autumn 2013, Irina began to create custom-made clothes and continues to do it.

The today’s stimulus for Irina’s creations are her own feelings. “I’m trying to play with colours and tell a tale through each of the paintings on the vestments. I am also inspired by artistic and vibrant places from nature, and by music,” specifies Irina. She never looks into the works of other artists because that would be unconsciously translated into her creations. Thus, there would be no room for originality.

“I think we can create trends by ourselves because what comes from inside, characterizes us. Every person is unique, and the inspiration can be found in nature and in our inner world.”

A manually painted dress hides a large amount of work and emotions behind it. The entire process lasts for two weeks on average and begins with shaping the idea. Then, the composition is sketched on a piece of white cloth. The next stage is painting. After the painting has dried, the clothing details are cut and the entire process of sewing a garment follows. “I have to execute the entire process by myself. Therefore, it lasts longer,” says Irina. Yet, the result of her efforts and the fact that it is appreciated by people inspires and motivates her to create more. “There is no greater happiness for an artist than the appreciation of his creations,” says Irina with a bright smile on her face. The works of Irina Madan won a multitude of international awards, including the 3rd place at the Top Designer Award Fashion Week in San Diego, in October 2018.

Irina’s most precious work is called “Fata Moșneagului”, a fantastic dress inspired by a Romanian fairy tale character – a hard-working and kind girl that managed to make her dream come true. “That is the work I would certainly never sell. I remember when I was at a presentation in London, in 2015, and a lady wanted to buy this particular dress. She was really insistent, but I did not sell it anyway. This dress reflects my personality and I have a spiritual connection with it,” confesses Irina. Some of her works can be found here.

The dress “Fata moșneagului” by Irina Madan

We are happy that Irina found her vocation and wish her all the best in the future. Her work springs from her soul and spirit and it deserves to be recognised.

More of Irina’s works as following:

Photo source: personal archive

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Stories from Diaspora/ Carolina Sclifos: “No matter how far away you are from home, if you are willing to contribute, you will find your own way to do it.”

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She calls herself a global citizen, being involved in international projects and aspiring to restyle this world. Her next dream – working in the UN. Her name is Carolina Sclifos – the protagonist of  the story from diaspora for this week.

About her beginnings

Carolina was only 12 or 13 years old when she started to be involved in extracurricular activities. It happened in Criuleni, the city in the Republic of Moldova where she is from. While dreaming of having the power to change her homeland for the better, Carolina was participating in volunteering activities such as debates on wide interest topics with local authorities or youth and community development projects.

Her weekends were scheduled for attending trainings, workshops and meetings at the Resource Centre for Youth she was working at, whereas her holidays were planned with projects and volunteering activities. This is where Carolina got her enthusiasm to be active and to inspire others for doing more. “All that time I had wonderful people next to me who contributed to my formation and development. Being enormously grateful to them, I consider it my own duty to contribute to the development of other young people, to tell them about the experiences I had, and to encourage their participation in their own communities,” says Carolina.

Photo source: personal archive

That idealistic, tenacious, even though sometimes hesitant teenager has grown up into a fine, active and successful young lady that never gave up on her old dreams. Today, Carolina is part of the active youth, with a sharp critical thinking and an intense desire to find out new things. And that means, for her, to get out of her comfort zone, to accept new challenges and to continuously grow.

“I’m a humanist in my heart and my mind, and I want to dedicate my further activity to this cause.”

About her studies

Being passionate about volunteering, youth policies and diplomacy, Carolina clearly knew in what direction she wanted to go. First, she graduated in European Studies from Babeș-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. Then, she got her master’s degree in Security and Diplomacy at the National University of Political Studies and Public Administration in Bucharest. “From 2011 until now I have studied and lived in four European countries. Each of these experiences was unique and very useful. I became aware of the importance of education and professional development. Even though I took a study break, I’m not giving up on the desire to move forward, hoping to attend soon a PhD in London,” states Carolina.

Photo source: personal archive

In addition to her studies in Romania, Carolina earned an Erasmus scholarship twice and went for exchange studies to Prague, Czech Republic and to Bonn, Germany. “Another key element was to discover the importance of cultural interaction. As a follower of tolerance, solidarity and of other European values, I plead for the positive impact of diversity, as I know how much it contributes to the social development and progress,” she adds.

About her job

When referring to the job she has, Carolina mentions that the European Union offers a lot of freedom combined with competitiveness, where one can’t make it without clearly set strategy and objectives. That’s what she did.

Photo source: personal archive

Carolina became a Young European Ambassador at the end of 2016. Since then, she has been involved in numerous projects, launched in the Eastern Partnership countries, as well as in the European Union. The projects were aimed at informing about the European education opportunities. “This experience combines two of my passions: involvement in youth policies, and the opportunity to advance in my job in the field of European studies, where I have graduated,” our protagonist mentions.

Photo source: personal archive

“I do not even imagine having an office job with a simple routine. It is possibly because we have always had continuous challenges, cultivating the spirit of non-formal education and engaging in various activities.”

Carolina’s mission, as a Young European Ambassador, involves explaining how the European Union has contributed to her personal development and encouraging young people to follow their dreams and passions by accessing opportunities offered by the EU. “I like the fact that we can contribute to the activities of our network and we can do it remotely as well, through the content on social networks and communication in the online environment,” Carolina reveals. The most rewarding about her job is that it takes her home. As she mentions: “in the period of 2017-2018 I visited Moldova within the project I work more than I did it in the period when I was a student in Cluj-Napoca and Bucharest.

About Moldova

In one of the most multicultural environments one could be, Carolina’s mission extends to the way she spreads the word about her homeland. “The opinion about Moldova depends on the interaction with Moldovan people,” says Carolina, “but sometimes you have to be ready to combat the stereotypes, if necessary, and explain that some news or general facts do not represent the whole picture.”

As she lives in London at the moment, Carolina is proud to hear about Moldova from British people that have good friends in Moldova or know something about the Moldovan wines, sweets and hospitality.

Photo source: personal archive

Carolina knows from her own experience how a young person that left Moldova can still contribute to the country’s development even being far from home. “During my studies in Cluj-Napoca, I was a member of an NGO for three years and promoted the involvement of students in the community formed there. While I was studying in Germany, I became a Young European Ambassador for the Republic of Moldova. My work included the promotion of our culture, the development of various social, economic or political projects and changing minds about Moldova,” highlights Carolina.

Thus, the protagonist of our today’s story is the person that found her own way of combining her passions with her job, and the need to return home and have an impact. We congratulate her for that.

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Stories from Diaspora/ Cătălina Dumbrăveanu: “Take the feeling of home with you, otherwise you can’t find it anywhere.”

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Every day, we get inspired by people and their stories. Especially, fascinating and inspiring are the stories of the persons that left their home, started from scratch, faced a lot of challenges and ventured out into new worlds.

Moldova.org decided to bring to you a series of such stories. These are stories of sparkling personalities, people that live far from their homeland – Moldova, but have never forgotten about it. Such people contribute to the prosperity and a good name of their homeland, despite the distance. They are little ambassadors of their country (as the protagonist of our today’s story usually says). They dedicate their time and efforts to something they truly believe: a country is made not only of people that live in it, but also of the people that chose to live far from it.

Meet Cătălina Dumbrăveanu, a girl born in Moldova, passioned by people and cultures. You won’t find her résumé anywhere: neither on social media, nor on public platforms. She is the most modest and discreet person you could ever come across. However, she has a lot of stories to tell the world. Being a specialist in international management and public policy, she gathered an experience of more than 7 years in the non-governmental area and in project management.

Cătălina reads a lot, having an affinity for biographies and existentialist authors, speaks 5 languages, improvises new cooking recipes, makes a lifestyle out of yoga, and every time her lungs and thoughts ask for more fresh air, she ventures into hiking or solitary travel.

Cătălina is grateful about everything she has. She believes that happiness can’t be programmed or planned according to a standard strategy. “For me, happiness is an intense and full emotion that you feel at some point, when all the stars are aligned according to the scheme that you had in your own mind,” she states.

Photo source: Facebook

About her work  and life philosophy

Over the years, her home was shared between 7 countries. At the moment, she lives in Berlin, being involved in several activities. Most of her time is dedicated to working in an organization that facilitates the implementation of digital health reforms in Germany. Cătălina is also doing research and, in parallel, co-manages a daring storytelling project called “Edges of Europe”, a project that wants to bring to the international audience the stories of young people from countries neighbouring Europe in a creative multimedia format. Catalina is one of the authors of a lovely multimedia story about Ocuppy Guguță, a viral movement of young activists that fight for democracy and a better future in Moldova, and about some of the Ocuppy Guguță key characters. Check it out here.

Cătălina is an archetype of the most dynamic and energetic young generation. She always has something to do. Moreover, she is absolutely in love with everything she does: public policy, health management, population development and sustainability. “My interest for these areas appeared during my master studies at the Erasmus University Rotterdam and Bocconi University Milan,” says Cătălina.

Photo source: Facebook

Cătălina aspires for a more conscious and sustainable thinking in the future. “Everyone could do something: including more fruits, vegetables and grains in the diet, to the detriment of the meat; waste recycling; conscious shopping and spending less on unnecessary items. These are just a few simple, necessary and beneficial changes for everyone,” states our protagonist.

Some time ago, she was more intrigued by international relations, communication and journalism. These were the areas she explored while being in the Republic of Moldova, by taking part in volunteer activities, internships and study exchanges. Cătălina Dumbrăveanu was a member of the National Youth Council of the Republic of Moldova, as a board member and later, coordinator of the project “Intercultural Dialogue in Moldova”, as well as, program coordinator of the Young Journalist Centre of Moldova. “I am grateful to the experience at the Young Journalist Centre, where I encouraged and supported young people from across the country to pursue their dream of exploring the media, and also to the National Youth Council, alongside which I went through a practical school of public policy, advocacy and good governance,” she confesses.

Photo source: personal archive

The idea with which she always resonated is to return the whole goodness that universe blessed her with, or, in other words, to contribute to positive changes, regardless of the existent context and circumstances. “That’s what excites me and what I try to achieve continuously – the concept of effective altruism,” says Cătălina.

Her entire activity is nourished by Cătălina’s fondness for human interactions, especially in a multicultural context.

“Perhaps tolerance, respect for diversity, openness to the unknown, the courage to believe in adventurous ideas, and the feeling of belonging to the European cultural family that I display today are rooted in both the education I received at home and in volunteer activities. I started to be engaged in volunteer activities at the age of 16 and grew up with them.”

Cătălina has a vast international volunteer experience. She participated in many Erasmus + projects, in an EVS (European Voluntary Service) and, for 2 years, she was a member of the European Youth Press, an umbrella organization of more than 50,000 of young people passionate about media and communication.

Photo source: personal archive

Still, one of the most memorable experiences she had, was the moment she received a scholarship of the Global UGRAD academic exchange program, supported by the US State Department. “Thanks to it, in the 3rd year of my bachelor’s degree I had the chance to study at a university in the USA and to discover the American culture. It was the experience that marked many beginnings in my life,” claims Cătălina.

When asked about what she learned from her volunteering activity, Cătălina mentions the feeling of belonging to an idealistic team, in which one can learn from mistakes and develop multilaterally. “I am grateful for each of my experiences and I am aware of their role in defining what I am today,” Cătălina says.

Photo source: Facebook

Generally, she thinks that a daily gratitude exercise is useful for becoming fulfilled. Cătălina advises “To stay alone for a few moments, to gather your thoughts and to remember the good that happened in your life, being thankful for what you are, what you have, and any experience of yours… And there is something else – living now, because that moment alone belongs to us.”

About her connection with Moldova

She misses Moldova. But even living in another country, she still believes something could be done.

“I think that every person living abroad is a non-formal ambassador of his country. That’s a responsibility and an opportunity at the same time. Everything we do and say can cause an outsider to love our country and perhaps possibly visit it. That, indirectly, is a contribution to the development of tourism.”

Then, Cătălina says that every Moldovan that lives abroad could promote local producers by simply buying and including the products/services from Moldova in their daily life. “From my own experience, I can say that it is more than enjoyable to hear some admirable commentaries addressing the products from Moldova,” says Cătălina while cheerfully smiling.

Moreover, according to Cătălina, there are a lot of examples of young people that invest their time and efforts in home projects, which they coordinate remotely, through regular returns, or through social networks. Last but not least, by discussing with the relatives that live in Moldova and providing a new perspective, different from the one inoculated by most sources of information in the country, one can contribute to a small change of mentality.

Photo source: personal archive

Cătălina already does all of this and is encouraging other people that live abroad to contribute with the little they can. “I meet people that don’t know much about Moldova. The good part in this case is that I can create a first positive impression. I try to motivate them to discover the charm of our authentic cuisine, the nature that harmoniously blends with villages forgotten by time, the traditions I remember from my grandparents (which, unfortunately, started to fade away) and the uniqueness of our bilingual folk. Initially, I try to omit the complicated political issues and try to avoid the label of poorest country in Europe that is often assigned to Moldova by media.

Featured photo source: Facebook

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