Teaching to smile - An Interview with Raluca Ciulei

Teaching to smile - An Interview with Raluca Ciulei

Trimis de Raluca-Maria Nedelcu la Mar, 05/24/2016 - 23:39
Versiunea în limba română este disponibilă aici.
Raluca Ciulei is the initiator of a project to help and support children in underprivileged areas of Romania. In April of this year, with the help of volunteers and supporters, Raluca organized a first project with a group of 24 children. Below, an interview with her about the whole experience. 
Please remind us what your projects are about. 
This January, when I first had the idea of starting such projects, I wrote the following words in my notebook: "Every child matters! Help/support them in an active way until they get a feel for who and how they are, of the values and treasures that lie within them, of the infinite possibilities that surround them; show them that together is the healthier and wiser way to move forward in life. By succeeding in doing so, you might succeed in improving a life and helping a community, a village, a city, a region, a country, the world!”. These lines still reflect what I believe in. I also believe that the culture of community involvement should find a place in every Romanian’s heart. I believe in leading by example and in learning by doing. 
Through my projects I intend to take regular trips to Romania and work with the children for a few days at a time, involve them in activities that bring them joy and help them discover themselves and their surroundings, grow into independent and self-sufficient individuals. I further hope that, inspired by our example, more people and organizations will take similar actions. 
This April you carried through a first project. Tell us a few words about it. 
A first project took place during the week 24-28.04.16 in Romania. An enthusiastic group of volunteers spent 5 wonderful days with 24 children with ages between 7 and 12 from the Sanmihaiu de Campie village, in the campus of a Romanian ONG -Tasuleasa Social. It was pure delight to see how captivated and joyful the children looked throughout the week. 
I also initiated a one day event in Valcea county, event which gave me hope and new ideas for the future. Children from Maria Ciulei’s handball team from Ramnilcu Valcea had a series of activities along with children from a nearby village, Pietrari. The children learned about giving and taking, about volunteering work, about caring and bringing a smile on someone else’s face. This particular activity will be carried on on a regular basis and will be lead by a child. This further gave me the idea of organizing a series of such actions this coming summer, in different counties of Romania. 
Tell us something about the week? What activities did you do? How many volunteers were there?   
It was a magical week. We did activities together that took the form of games or that were freely created by the children. I had the idea of creating “parallel universes” for them, each universe being led by a volunteer. 
The painter’s universe was conducted by Laura Munteanu, who proposed the children “the Game of Painting”, an inovative method to rediscover spontaneity and creativity, a method initially discovered by Arno Stern. 
The athlete’s universe was led by the professor Maria Ciulei, European and National Champion in women’s handball, who delighted the children with sports games. 
The nature universe was conducted by Stepan Andronic, forestry engineer and forestry instructor in the Pedagogical Forest of Tasuleasa Social. He taught the children about nature through stories and games.    
The storyteller’s universe had Valentin Munteanu in lead, who offered the children to read stories such as “Heidi” and “Tom Sawyer” and reinvent the ending. 
The chess player's universe was guided by professor Emil Ciulei, a chess enthusiast. 
The undefined universe or the universe of free playing had in its center an exceptional psychologist from Cluj-Napoca, Amalia Ciucã. 
The writer’s universe was led by myself. Through games and stories, through walks and interactions with the locals, the children were free to write and draw about what they felt like expressing. The children freely chose the desired universe. The schedule alternated between sessions in the aforementioned universes and sessions of playing together.  
The project found support even from its beginnings, right?
Yes, the project found support early on, when it was only an idea. Everything started in January when this idea came to me and rapidly many people joined. 
I want to thank with this occation the volunteers, Alin Useriu, the president of Tasuleasa Social who offered us Tasuleasa's superb campus, its Pedagogical Forest and wonderful volunteers, I thank him for his hospitality! I also thank very much all those who contributed with fonds, clothes, shoes, school supplies, charity deeds etc: Maria Tarcsay, Lindsay Ferguson, Oleksyi Syrotkin, Bogdan Alexe, Alexandru Grădinaru, Livia Bălăcescu, Mădălina Tenea, Stela Rakipaj, Georgiana and Mario Stein, Viviana Petrescu, Melitta Cocan, Laurențiu and Celine Bercea, Walter Amadeus, Alice Kall, Cosmin Păun, Simona Negoiaș, Camelia Căpraru, Doris Müller, Rodica Roșu, Vicenzo and Monica Pezzullo, Cătălin Mihăescu, Mihai Tănăsescu, Simona Schott, Ioana Soria, Cristina Șuteu, Thorsten Panneck-Conradi, Stefan Lanz, Vidushi Meillart, Martin Bolliger, Daniel Berner, Christina Tzanetopoulou, Meropi Nassikas, Valentin Munteanu, Laura Munteanu, Roxana Vișan, Mircea P., Roxana D., Irina N., Gerhild A. 
I thank everyone for their involvement, support and enthusiasm!
What was the childrens’ reaction? How about the volunteers? How did you feel in the end? 
The children showed excitement all along. In the end they shed a few tears which moved us a lot. The volunteers and I enjoyed the journey as much. It was tiring but extremely beautiful. The satisfaction we felt in the end is irreplaceable. 
What are the next steps? Will such a camp happen again? If yes, when?
Yes, I am willing to organize another week like this one, sometime this year. I am also willing to organize a “tournament” through approximately 20 counties of Romania, with one day events like I mentioned above, where children from the cities interact with children from nearby villages. It is for sure that further ideas will come to mind in the weeks to come and I will then decide what and when will happen. I hope to further find the necessary support.
Below you can see a movie made by Andrei Dăscălescu about the project.

Raluca Ciulei can be reached through her website -  www.ralucaciulei.com/contact.html.


Raluca-Maria Nedelcu, Dietikon

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