Monday, October 15, 2007

Making Connections

I went to a press conference at the city hall today. It was held by Ole, my Danish friend. He announced that his organization, Demokratisk Forum Rumaenien, will essentially be ending its work in Lugoj. In fact, he will be basically be pulling out of Romania all together in order to concentrate his efforts where the need is greater, like the Republic of Moldova. Ole spoke about how Romania entering the EU has made his job obsolete, because the aid that cities like Lugoj will receive from the European Comminity will far exceed what his organization could ever contribute to the area.

Because I was present at the conference, I was of course a focus of attention. I took the opportunity to explain to the press what I was doing in Lugoj, and what my mission is as a Peace Corps volunteer. It's very strange for me to be in the limelight. I've always liked to keep a very low profile. They warned about this sort of unwanted attention in Peace Corps training. I guess I'll have to get used to it.

Ole has been doing work here since 1994, giving humanitarian aid however he can. He's carted tons of clothes, food, and other goods from Denmark over the years. His organization also funded programs for the youth, such as a playroom in the town library and, most recently, a ceramics summer camp. Over the years, he has also taken more than 200 Lugoj city officials to Denmark to show them how democracy works in action, hoping that they'll take some ideas back home. I'm glad I got a chance to meet Ole before he left. He knows quite a few people in Lugoj, and he introduced me to some people that might be able to help me in the future. Ole's job as a humanitarian 'developer' may have come to an end, but that doesn't mean Lugoj will never see him again. Like I said, he's made many friends over the years, and he's sure to come back to visit.

One of the people Ole introduced me to was Liviu, the head of the European Integration Office at the Lugoj city hall . Liviu should be a very good guy to know. I told him I'm interested in working with him on obtaining grant funding for a project (yet to be determined). I plan to use Federal US grant money, and maybe I'll even be able to work with Liviu to get some EU funding. Who knows? I also talked about the possibility of doing a summer English class for employees of the city hall.

In any case, it seems like some doors are opening for me. I now have a few contacts in the city hall, and also the Kid's Club. I should be busy. Tomorrow I'll meet with an English teacher from another school in town. We'll talk about doing some afterschool English lessons for a few of her students. I figure why not, I'm here to serve the community as a whole, so the more people I can work with, the better.


Mary said...

You go, Mike. I knew you would do good work, and get that ball rolling early. Getting help with applying for grant money will be an invaluable lesson, and the experience might be something you can use towards a new career when you come back to the States. Businesses are always looking for Grant writters, who knows what this could lead to personally. But in the mean time, you would be helping others. Good luck. Mom

Jack Nork said...

Great to get the latest news Mike. It sounds like things are going really well. I can't wait to see how the story unfolds!