His name is Andrei Juc. He is a young architect that believes that beauty can make the world a better place and does everything he can to contribute to it. Andrei declares himself a wanderer that still has a lot to discover. He lived, studied and worked in several European countries and hasn’t decided yet where to settle in. Andrei is our new protagonist for the “Stories from Diaspora” series of articles.
About his ‘reason for being’
He started his career in architecture in Moldova, while working as a draftsman for a private summer pavilion. Then, he had an opportunity to work for a museum project in Warsaw. Andrei also had an experience of studying and working in Portugal, where the team he was a part of, won the contest for a hotel reconstruction in the historical centre of Lisbon. Now he lives and has a job in Basel, Switzerland working as a trainee at an architectural bureau. “There are still a lot of things I have to learn. But I like to see that people are happier when helping them make their dreams come true. It can be a new house, a better working environment or a kitchen that would have everything they need. The scale doesn’t matter, it’s the quality that does,” says Andrei.
Andrei is an assiduous and curious person that looks for perfectionism in every artistic creation of his or of other architects. “The trick is to set the goal so high, that the journey of achieving would bring you lots of happiness. The curiosity for new things is my IKIGAI (a Japanese concept that means a reason for being).” Andrei assumes that by enjoying hard work on a daily basis, his professional limits could be achieved.
About becoming an architect
“I remember that I had big doubts about choosing my future vocation. I liked most of the subjects taught at school, and I could not decide for something, so that I would not lose any important part of my personality that could have been developed.” Andrei thinks that the architecture area encompasses all his interests. “I was thinking of studying philosophy or to become an IT specialist, but, finally, I chose architecture.”
About finding his place in the sun
Andrei changed his location because he thought his educational background would not be complete when staying just in one place. Every time an opportunity to shake things up appeared, he took advantage of it. “I enrolled in several exchange programs. So, I had the opportunity to study at 3 different universities in 3 different countries. My horizons have widened, it is like changing the resolution of a video from 240p to 1080p. Life is the same, but I can see it in much more detail than I did before,” Andrei states.
For our protagonist, each change of location was a big leap, leaving behind a comfortable workplace and good friends with whom Andrei still tries to keep in touch. “My nomad story starts in Poland where I had an Erasmus exchange program for 10 months. I liked the country a lot and I observed that learning the Polish language would help follow the regular courses there.”
Afterwards, the possibility to study in Portugal came to Andrei. The master’s degree in architecture seemed to be a great option. He spent there more time than he thought at first and met great people there. “I had a great chance to learn from Polish and Portuguese professionals. However, I was still feeling that I shall keep moving. I believe young people shall often change places. Jack Ma advises young people to to that before their 30s,” states Andrei while smiling. Hence, here he is in Switzerland.
About conquering mountains
The first years of studies were hard for Andrei. “We had a lot of heavy tasks with quite restricted deadlines. It was quite stressful so I started to think about some kind of activity that might take me away from the drawing desk and, preferably, help me stay in shape.”
After trying various sports, Andrei settled upon climbing. He managed to transpose the steep ‘cliffs’ from the office to the real ones. The difference? The real cliffs were a reboot button that were releasing all the stress accumulated during the working week. “The best way to refresh my mind is climbing in some isolated place, away from the civilisation. It is my kind of meditation. After a long day of climbing, I find answers to both professional and personal life questions. Nature is the ultimate therapist.”
Besides climbing, Andrei learns foreign languages (and he is really having a knack for them, as he speaks 7 already) and reads famous novels in original. “The last one was a José Saramago novel. I hope to improve my German to be able to read Goethe, Kant and Wittgenstein in original,” says Andrei.
One more hobby Andrei has, which is related to his vocation, is sketching. “I have a lot of notebooks with drafts. Often, I make quick sketches while traveling or in museums. My rule – it shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes. It’s a skill that helps me capture the most important of a landscape, image, sculpture. When it comes to sketch architecture, it’s an attempt to capture the future project, to try ideas in a context.”
Andrei is grateful to be born in Moldova. It is where he hopes to work in the future. “It makes me happy to see some restauration works in Moldova, such as the Căușeni Church restauration. A year ago, I was invited to work on a project of an old hospital restauration. I hope it will go on soon and I’ll have the opportunity to contribute to its realisation.” Andrei says that participating at projects of perpetuation of the Moldavian heritage would make him happy and proud.
He believes that the way the Moldovans interact with foreigners has a way bigger impact than any news they see about Moldova. However, he recognizes that he is not always able to explain the entire complexity of the Moldovan politics, culture or traditions.
For now, he is staying abroad. “There is a saying that if you want to build big bridges, don’t wait until the big water gets into your own town – move to a place where such a bridge is needed. I wanted a broader educational background. The nomad lifestyle that I have gave it to me.”
Featured photo source: oneday.md
There are three Harvard University graduates in the government of PM Maia Sandu
Three of the cabinet members in Chisinau have master degrees at from Harvard University. These are the Minister of Finance, (Natalia Gavriliţă) Minister of Economy (Vadim Brânzan), and Prime Minister Maia Sandu.
Newsweek.ro made a comparison of the members of the Government of Chisinau with those of the Cabinet of Ministers in Bucharest.
Vadim Brânzan, the new Minister of Economy in the Chisinau Executive, is a professor of physics, yet between 1999 and 2001 he took a Masters Degree in Finance at Harvard University. From 2001 to 2019, he worked for various investment companies in London, New York, and Miami, the latter being Miami’s Logos Advisers, specializing in “angel investments,” which is aimed at helping startups.
Maia Sandu assigned Natalia Gavriliţă as Minister of Finance. Natalia has a Masters degree at the John F. Kennedy School of Governance, Harvard University. From 2015 until today she was a director of a London investment fund. Gavriliță also worked at the European Commission and the World Bank. She worked in countries such as Bangladesh, Belgium, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, the Kyrgyz Republic, Moldova, Nigeria, the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), the Russian Federation, South Africa, Tajikistan, United Kingdom, USA, Zambia.
Moldova’s Minister of Agriculture is Georgeta Mincu, who holds a Master’s degree at the University of Dublin.
Nicu Popescu, the new Foreign Minister in Chisinau, is a Doctor of Political Sciences, a title obtained at the Central European University (CEU) in Budapest, with the thesis: “Stealth: EU and post-Soviet conflicts”. Popescu is a professor at the Po-Paris School of Science.
Finally, the new Moldovan Prime Minister Maia Sandu has a Masters degree at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, and has worked at the World Bank in Washington DC.
Stories from diaspora// Marian Cepoi: “While the things are not changing in Moldova, its citizens are given a second chance abroad.”
Marian Cepoi is an ambitious and hardworking person from Moldova who is currently working as a policy assistant at the European Commission, while living in Brussels, Belgium. He is the protagonist of this week’s story from diaspora.
About working for the EU
Marian wakes up early every day. He has settled down into a morning routine: exercises, reflecting and a healthy breakfast. “I have noticed that I am feeling better during the day if I wake up earlier and have more time for morning activities. If you do not hurry up in the morning, your entire day will seem to be longer, with more time to achieve the always-infinite list of proposed tasks,” he says.
Marian’s list of daily tasks is really long: coordinating the organisation of meetings, drafting policy and working documents and briefings, liaising and communicating with internal and external actors, etc. Therefore, getting an energy boost in the morning is really useful.
However, his morning habits are not the only source of enthusiasm and efficiency. Marian also gets his energy from the joy of doing what he really likes. “European Affairs are an interdisciplinary topic and you never get bored with only one type of activity. It is a nice combination between political science, economics, law, development studies, communication, diplomacy, etc.” It is clear that Marian loves his job at the European Commission. “It is a big community of people with more or less the same profile, education and activities. You feel a member of this big family.”
Furthermore, Marian also enjoys living in Brussels: “It is a Babylon of our era. Here you do not feel like a foreigner and your language accent will not be judged. It allows me to be far from home, develop myself, and, at the same time, to not feel as a stranger – the way I would have been felt if I was working and living in another country or city.”
At the same time, our protagonist reveals some aspects of having a job at a European institution: “The work style is very different. The specificity of having 28 countries on equal foot developed here a strong common sense of co-decision, negotiation and respect for the opinion of other people. Even at the lower levels all decisions are taken after a wide internal and external consultation process.” In the end, everybody is aware of their own contribution and no conflict of interests during the implementation process could appear, according to Marian.
Of course, there is the other side of the coin as well. “All these advanced democratic practices generate a complex system and, sometimes, it may appear slow, over-regulated, and too bureaucratic. However, without bureaucracy, that in fact assures the rules compliance, the European Union would have not been capable to extend at such a large scale, both in terms of number of countries and in terms of competences,” explains Marian.
About the prerequisites to enter the EU institutions’ competitive system
Marian did his master’s degree in European Studies at the College of Europe. “The College of Europe was a ‘visa’ for Brussels and for working at EU institutions in my case. It is almost impossible to enter the EU institutions, being from a third country, if you do not have a diploma with good results from a prestigious university, as well as prior relevant work experience.”
Marian says that studies at such high ranked abroad universities develop teamwork skills, self-studying abilities, public speaking, debating skills, critical thinking, self-confidence, research skills, and many more. “The experience at the College of Europe also taught me stress management, prioritization and self-organisation. It helped me adjust my already formed profile to the Western high work and life standards.”
To those young people who are working hard in Moldova and want to get to the next level, he recommends to go for a master’s degree abroad. “It will be the element which will complete their profile and prepare them for the international competition and career.”
Prior to his master’s degree, Marian gained his work experience as a policy researcher at IDIS VIITORUL and as a coordinator at Promo-LEX in the Republic of Moldova.
About the Moldova-EU Association Agreement
“If the current Association Agreement were fully implemented, 80% of Moldova’s situation would be adjusted to the European standards. It indeed means that the quality of life would grow as well.” Marian claims that the implemented reforms in the justice sector, for example, would attract significant EU funds and foreign investments. “At the EU level, there are enough money, but they don’t arrive in Moldova because of lack of structural reforms.”
According to Marian, it’s good that Moldovans have the opportunities to travel, work and live abroad. Still, as he mentions, without having good living conditions at home, it turns into a negative effect, as people simply leave their country for good. “The Moldovan diaspora has significantly grown in the last 5 years. People settle abroad together with their families, in the countries where they see a future for their children. This is a phenomenon without precedent in the history of the Republic of Moldova and I am afraid of its consequences. So, urgent significant changes in Moldova are needed if we want to still have it populated,” he says.
Marian will continue to work hard and look to a brighter future for his country and his family. “I want to profit from every single day and climb another step on my Everest!”
Photos: Facebook/ Marian Cepoi
Stories from diaspora// Doru Curoșu – from a volunteer to a successful trainer, speaker and entrepreneur
Doru is one of the most dynamic persons you could ever met. He is one of the few Moldovans who were mentioned in Forbes 30 under 30. Over the years, he participated in so many volunteering projects, that I would need some more space here to list them all. Doru is an HR expert, an international trainer and speaker, an entrepreneur, and simply an assertive person who, as it seems, could achieve anything.
About his career ‘determiners’
Doru’s successful career emerged from his volunteering activity. Indeed, volunteering experience has brought him where he is today.
Doru started his path at the AIESEC organisation. “AIESEC was the first organization I have been involved in since 2009. Actually, my life and work are determined by the values I learned back then. My professional activity is related to what I was doing in AIESEC.” Our protagonist was a trainer and a coordinator of several important projects under the organisation’s aegis.
Another crucial experience that served as a runway for Doru’s future professional career was his activity within the National Youth Council of Moldova. “There I experienced what it means to be a team manager, a colleague and an entrepreneur. The activity at the Council combined them all and taught me to have an impact while harnessing human capital.” Doru says that he was lucky to work in a wonderful team of people with whom he would come back to work together at any time.
Doru has also been a board member of the European Youth Forum where he got useful insights regarding internationalism, globalization, European values and many more. “During four years of volunteering, I have acquired as much information as I could about national and international policies, especially youth policies. I got the chance to travel a lot, discovered new cultures, met new people, got new ideas, which I tried to implement at home afterwards,” Doru reveals.
Doru believes that each person is unique in his own way.
“What is important is how the personal capabilities and experience are used to get yourself noticed. I have always tried to be very good in everything I do, to offer quality, enthusiasm, energy and dedication. I like helping those in need and trying to build ‘bridges’ for a better future for young people. Probably, that’s how I made myself noticed, that’s how the world got to know me.”
There is one more essential determiner of a successful career, according to Doru – the network of contacts. “It has helped me since high school years. In 10 years, each experience has been adding value to who I am and to the way people know me. Every time my work brought results, it was noticed either in Moldova or internationally.” Therefore, he was awarded the National Youth Prize in 2013 and was the first Moldovan nominated in Forbes 30 under 30.
About the spectrum of his activities
Besides building his own brand of delivering excellent training and team building services, Doru founded his own company named Camelot. “All the experience I gained as a volunteer was monetized and transformed into a qualitative and unique product on our market. Camelot is the company that offers unique, memorable and impactful experiences for those working with us. We offer training, team building, human resource management and event management consulting,” specifies Doru.
In parallel, Doru is doing his master’s degree in Human Resources Management at Babeș-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca. He often commutes from Cluj-Napoca to Chișinău and back. When asked how he manages it; he often jokes that he learned teleportation. “I go to classes when I have to present projects, I am in Chișinău for training and team building activities, and I go to Bucharest for meetings with partners and potential clients. I am always on the road.” It’s not easy for Doru to do it all, still it is very rewarding in the end.
Just like his work, travelling is another ‘drug’ that gives him energy and inspiration, as Doru states. “The more I travel, the more I want to do it. Every visited country has had a huge impact on me.” Until this moment, Doru managed to discover 49 countries and more than 200 cities from Europe and Asia. His personal top of countries is led by Georgia, Portugal and Sri Lanka. “The 50th country has to be very special. I hope it will be Peru, Colombia or India.”
About the hidden part of the iceberg
Doru could tell from his personal experience how harsh the public opinion could be in regard to people that don’t want to take the ordinary way and how inefficient the educational system in the Republic of Moldova became. Only few know about the challenges Doru had in his effort to combine university, job, travelling, sports and volunteering activity.
Only few know that our protagonist was forced to confront the traditionalist views of the Moldovan university system. “I had a conflict situation with the university where I was doing my bachelor’s degree and, for 8 years, I have been investing my effort in graduating without giving up on our poor education system.” He also had to confront some of the most trivial stigmata of the Moldovan society: <<A man has to make money. The rest is a waste of time.>> or <<Forbes? Did they pay you for it? How did it help?>>
Doru preferred to prioritize his own needs and aspirations. “My experience with formal education was not necessarily the most enjoyable, as I am not the person who accepts to waste time on things that do not add value.” He considers that young people have to combine studies with other activities in order to be successful. It can be opening own business, volunteering, participating in international exchange of studies and volunteer programs, doing internships, organizing projects, events, etc.
“University provides the theoretical basis. It represents only 20% of your employment portfolio, the remaining 80% comes from practical experience. Young people need education, but with no other experience besides, they will not be able to distinguish themselves on the labour market.”
Doru declares himself a happy and a fulfilled person and, at the same time, he thinks there is still room for improvement: “That motivates me to never stop.” He says that the key to the balance between personal and professional life is efficient communication. The rest can be managed through patience and hard work.
Photos: Facebook/ Doru Curoșu
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