Human thought and action have the ability to permeate from individuals or small groups into larger social groups, society and even into the human race. If there is any truth in this statement, I have great hopes and optimism that the Romanian youth of today, with their altruism and positive energy, will change the country for the better when they will have the opportunity to do so. I experienced that fresh altruism, energy and passion for making a difference during a summer weekend in June, in a small city north of Bucharest. A good friend of mine, Corina, has conceived, obtained necessary funding and is currently leading a social project in Târgovişte, Romania. This is the project I witnessed in June; this is the project that gave me the optimism and hope that today’s creative young people will one day change the social environment in Romania, an environment that has been in need of change for a long time.
The project – “The Creativity Map of Dâmboviţa County” – with guidance form educators, mentors and creative minds is designed to engage high-school age students and enable them to understand and experience their own creative spirit and to acquire a skill-set that will assist them to map the creative landscape in the area they live.
The project website is located here, it is still work in progress and the content is in Romanian only. For the English-speaking audience here is a quick summary:
The project was initiated and is being led by the “Friendship Ambasadors” a non-profit organization from Târgovişte. The principal goals are to teach highschool-age students the antreprenorial spirit in the field of creative industries, and to map the creative landscape of a small comunity, which does not have the ability and internal resources to plan its own creative industry. The project benefits from the help of the Association of Creative Industry from Iaşi, from the support of the “I. Heliade Rădulescu” library and the Dâmbovita County Cultural Center. The success of the project is ensured by several charismatic and competent mentors who work with a group of about 20 students. The students, with training and guidance from their mentors, will map the principal creative industries in the County and will present the results of their work to a large audience in Târgovişte and in Bucharest. In this practical manner the designers of the project encourage the creation of cultural, intellectual, moral and material values, and their intelligent consumption at the level of an entire community, while also emphasizing the relationship between education, culture and the achievement of success and meaning in ones life.
The creative spirit is a fundamental characteristic of humans – we all have it, but our ability and knowledge of how to express it varies depending on the environment we lived in and our life experiences. Creativity is a deliberate act, is a courageous act that leads not only to personal expression but also has the capacity to effect fundamental social change. This is what was so inspiring about witnessing a small part of this project.
The participating students are making a deliberate choice to engage in something that will lead to change – change in themselves, which will certainly lead to change in their environment and community. They spent a weekend, and will spend many more, engaging their hearts and minds in something with a potential to alter the status quo in a positive way. And there was so much joy in what they were doing… It was the joy of learning something new, the joy of being out of their comfort zone and to feel the creative growth associated with that experience, the joy of being with peers who have similar passions, the joy of learning from educators who believe in what they do.
Corina is the heart and mind of this project. I know her since University, when we both learned about rocks, geology and time that is measured in millions of years, not only in “human-years”. After graduations we took different paths, I am still practicing geoscience, while Corina is heavily involved in work that leads to social change. She is and will continue to be an inspiration to me: grass-roots action, social engagement and civic education are not easy endeavors in a young democracy like Romania’s, or in any young democracy across Eastern Europe or anywhere around the world.
People like Corina are trail-blazers who get their energy from core values transcending the individual and operating in a sphere where the greater purpose is the ultimate and only goal.
During a weekend in June I experienced greatness in Târgovişte. That feeling will stay with me for a long time and the experience became an inspiration to get involved and give back.