Arts Lab Report: A beautiful town

Here I am, at the end of my first month in Romania. I don’t know if I should call it an unlucky period rather than a lucky one, but I won’t. Because I’ve been helped a lot by many beautiful people during this global crisis. Let’s begin, then.

I arrived in Romania at the beginning of March. I’ve been in many European countries before, but it would be my first experience with this country and to be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Right after my arrival, the warm atmosphere showed me that I made a good choice to come here. On my first day, I could feel the hospitality from various people who helped me a lot during my bus trip from Bucharest to Târgu Frumos, and when I arrived in this beautiful town I absolutely loved it! I met Mihaela, my project coordinator and the co-volunteers, Hanul, Omar and Eliana. On our second day, we went out - it wasn’t an emergency situation yet and since I arrived from Turkey I didn’t need to stay in quarantine. We went for a treasure hunt and discovered the gems of the town. We found the oldest building and learnt its history, we climbed the highest spot and took a photo, and the most entertaining part, we tried to ask the locals the best things to do in town. It was quite a challenge because some of them didn’t speak English, but we managed somehow. It was really nice to be in touch with the locals.

That day I also met with other volunteers from ASIRYS, Ioana and Ştefana.

Following days passed mostly in the ACT House, we helped to organize the space where the organisation have recently moved, we did some tasks like preparing recipes for the Cafe, and the most entertaining part was composing a song about the town. We all wrote lyrics-and sang!- about how we felt when we arrived in Târgu Frumos.

Meanwhile, we have started our Romanian language classes with Ioana. We had the first class at ACT House, and it was so much fun! Unfortunately, we have been going on with the courses online right now, but anyway, probably because of the similar words between Turkish and Romanian, I’ve been enjoying the courses very much so far.

Unfortunately, after one week Romania has entered an emergency situation, and that meant for us to stay home as much as possible. We have started to work from home, while Mihaela has been sending us tasks which we can do at home and share online. My tasks were online workshops about gardening, vegan recipes, arts and crafts. With the help of my friends (thanks to Hanul mostly, for taking the videos and editing them), I’ve managed to prepare 2 workshops about cooking a seasonal recipe and a drawing course. I’m planning to continue the videos while I am in quarantine. I’m so glad with this task, because I feel creative while writing and preparing the workshops, as I feel good for showing ideas to people all around the world, how to survive from these stressful times. Also, I think the team work and the help on this task connects me more with my co-volunteers.

My other task which I’ve been doing for one week is, preparing a recipe book for the youth center’s cafe. The cafe will start serving some international drinks when the crisis is over, so what I am doing now is designing a menu, with of course the help of my friends. I’m writing recipes and illustrating also, we will publish it at the end of my volunteering period. Besides my main profession is ceramics, I’ve always been into drawing and painting somehow, so I’ve been enjoying this task very much.

Meanwhile, we are trying to spend time as full as possible, we are trying to learn something from each other every day, create games and keep motivating each other during quarantine. None of us wanted to go back to our countries because we are really excited about our work we will do here in the future. I hope - like everybody out there - this situation will end soon.

This was my first month in Târgu Frumos. I want to thank you to my coordinator Mihaela, my mentor Nikolia, and everybody else who has been supporting us so much those days. I’m sure next month will be more positive!

Written by Deniz Ataman

Deniz is volunteering in Arts Lab 2.0, a project funded by European Solidarity Corps, with the support of European Union.