For her, art springs from simplicity, and even from difficulties. She always was a modest and fragile girl. Yet, her colourful soul constantly tried to escape the society’s-imposed ceiling. It seemed to shine from inside. This is why she got the nickname ‘little sun’. Then, the ‘little sun’ has grown up. Let me introduce Romina Chetraru, one of the beautiful and creative spirits of our time.
About the sunrise
“Everything starts from where I have grown up: being intimately connected with nature, among the books in my mother’s library, while waking up at 5 am for gardening, being completely absorbed by the sunrise, with my shoes bathed in dew… I remember the taste of my grandmother’s bread, which was especially tasty when eaten in the shade of grapevine on the hill. Everything I am today is rooted in those moments.” Romina inherited the love for books and art from her mother and the ability to soulfully observe the surrounding things from her father.
At first, art took the form of passion for words for Romina. During her adolescence, words were the most appropriate way of expressing her own personality. “I had the opportunity to write and direct a play in a social theatre. It was an unforgettable experience that enhanced my passion for art even more,” says Romina.
Referring to her personality, Romina is an incredibly empathetic person. She loves interacting with people, discovering them, but sometimes she absolutely needs isolation as well.
“I’m not afraid of loneliness, on the contrary. The perfect balance of my life is to have my own ‘footprint’, to be who I really am, not who society dictates to be. I always look for simplicity in every aspect of my life. I succeed just sometimes, most of the time I don’t. I am a little disaster, fluctuating from the state of chronic order to the colossal chaos. I avoid going to the streets that seem to me sad or without personality, even if that means to walk half the city.”
About the storm (moving to another country)
“When I moved to Italy, my life turned into a fierce battle of integration. The words in my native language also began a profound conflict with the new ones in Italian. For a long period of time, I didn’t write anything because of energy absence,” Romina recalls.
It wasn’t easy at all. Our protagonist had to be transferred from a Moldovan high school to an Italian one. “The high school in Italy is like a university. I did not have a moment of break. I studied philosophy, anthropology, Latin anthology during lessons of 90 minutes and had oral and written exams…”
Romina says that moving to Italy was the bravest and the most complicated choice she had ever made. “When I look back, I wonder how I found the energy to keep up with the tsunami that struck me seven years ago. Actually, I am not the only Moldovan who has gone through this experience, but I noticed that there are some things that remain behind the curtain, and no one mentions them.” In Italy, being a stranger is quite complicated, because of the tensioned atmosphere in society regarding the flow of constantly arriving immigrants, as Romina claims.
“Nowhere else did I feel so embarrassed that I am Romanian like here, and I had to be patient and break the stereotypes and the reputation created by some of our compatriots.”
Romina says that 7 years ago she wasn’t prepared enough for the Italian high school. “It was very simple to be held back. The passing mark was 6, and the teachers were extremely demanding. Being a perfectionist, I could not allow myself to fail.” That was the moment when she took a break from writing and discovered the photography as her new form of expression.
As she didn’t have a professional camera, Romina was taking photos with her phone camera. The quality of the pictures was really low, but she was looking for the concept of the picture. She started to be more and more active, once she felt more integrated in the new society. “I got involved in the school theatre, then I became a member of the school parliament and on my birthday, when my parents gave me my first camera, I became the official photographer of the school,” reveals Romina with a bright smile on her face, while recalling these moments.
Despite all these difficulties, Romina is enchanted by the intellectual, literary, artistic and culinary culture of Italy that fascinated her from the very first moment.
About the rainbow of her art
“There was a period in my life when I dreamed of becoming a writer. I have 3 abandoned novels drafts. I was reading Octavian Paler, Ferdando Pessoa and dreaming of experiment like James Joyce with Ulise…”
Romina didn’t become a writer. She became a poet. Her first poetry book was a novelty for the public. The book named – “Punctul” (translated from Romanian as “The point”) was her experiment. “It was clumsy, hobbling, incomplete, but mine. I put my soul in my first book. It has a lot of blank space to become a kind of diary or a sketchbook for the reader. I imagined how poetry can be wiped off, changed, how the reader writes his own poetry, his own thought. I tried to present the poetry differently.”
As Romina says, the most interesting thing happened when foreign people who didn’t understand a word in Romanian told her that they could feel her poems. “That was the moment I understood that I succeeded in publishing a book that had its own personality and expressesed without lexemes a universe of states that connects with the reader regardless of the language he spoke.”
She plans to publish one more book. Her second book will be another experiment. “I decided to integrate the visual design with the visual poetry for my bachelor thesis and discovered a tremendously wide and interesting form of poem – cinepoetry. It is the most motivating project on which I continue to work.” The project blends her passion for writing with the one for film making. Yes, she also wanted to become a director, but certain circumstances forced her to choose another creative field.
Romina also dreamed of becoming a choreographer and open a school of dance. But the most recent moment when she felt the peak of fulfillment was when she got her job as a visual designer at RAI – the national public broadcasting company of Italy. During the weekends, she becomes her own dressmaker, that being included in the long list of her talents.
Romina lives by her inspiration. It’s an essential part of her personality. “In the end, if you do not ‘feed’ your mind, your eyes – you are not able to create.”
About the homeland blue sky
Romina found her new home. After 7 years away from Moldova, she feels like a stranger in there.
“The memories that connect me to my homeland are becoming more and more distant. Nowadays, for me, Moldova represents my roots, which I need to take care of at least once a year, otherwise I feel like an air plant.”
She thinks that people in diaspora have a fundamental role in the fate of Moldova. “We are the ones who had the misfortune to leave, yet we had the luck of being able to compare the political, social, cultural situation in Moldova with those of other countries. The Moldovan diaspora is that wave of strong and fresh energy that our country needs.” Romina wants to put in practice an idea of an artistic short movie about Moldova. She wants to come back home one day.
Photos: personal archive
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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