Arts Lab Report: May, a restart month

A complete month of routine, preparations and tasks. That’s one way to put it. Romania transitioned from a state of emergency to a state of alert and some people were able to return to their normal routine, including us, the volunteers of Super Tineri. Our first task of May was planning out a youth exchange programme for the National Agency. Our project is about the youngsters who are interested in working within the world of Art by learning how to find a job related to their passion, build a confident curriculum for their career and even know how to cooperate with people of different backgrounds. It was the first time I ever wrote something so detailed and organized about a EU event. We dedicated so much time for this document where we all collaborated and shared our workflow. We only had one week to finish it before the deadline and those days were intense. Nevertheless, I think it was a witty experience where we learned how to communicate with various organizations, understand the many aspects and stages behind an event planning and make decisions as a team. The moment we sent the document, we all gave a team high five and cheered on for our small accomplishment.

One of the unexpected joy I encountered this month was the On Arrival Training. Me and my colleagues were all bummed out by the fact that the training will take place online on Zoom and not in person in Bucharest. I had already been there but it would had been the perfect opportunity to discover the city with the others and meet new friends. The first few days was awkward: having to receive training through a computer screen for the first time was something that I am not used to and having to meet new people non presentially always feels distant. However, even with this limitation we all had a fair amount of fun. For example, Zoom has a function of using virtual background where you can use custom image as your background of your video call. The trainings are long so whenever things were slow and stale, I changed my background to something entertaining like the image below so that me and the participants can have a small laugh.

It was also a great opportunity to meet new volunteers who are in a similar situation like me. I’ve met all kind of volunteer from different nationalities and through group works we got to know more about each other. With all this in mind when the alert phase is over we are all planning to meetup somewhere in Romania and properly introduce each other in person.

While doing the training, in the afternoon we went to the youth center to continue with our projects. This month, I conducted the Art Frumos session where I talked about our favorite movie sequences. Not a lot of people passed by to watch the session but it was still motivating to talk about things that you are passionate about. The sequence I chose was the music sequence of the Spanish film “Cria Cuervos”. I love this sequence because it represents the whole film: an orphan child who is trying to process the harsh and dark past of her parents. You can watch the sequence here.

May was also the month where our interest about Cucuteni began. After the transition to the alert status, we all together, visited Cucuteni to see one of the facilities of Super Tineri, the prehistoric museum and the house of an artist who recreates the Cucuteni culture design. It felt good being able to travel outside Târgu Frumos after the three month quarantine. When we drove through the beautiful fields it felt liberating. It was interesting to see the facility in Cucuteni, discovering how previous volunteers and participants built the place while surviving without electricity or running water. We couldn’t enter inside the museum as the guard there told us it was an obligation to wear gloves and masks. Either way, next to it was a recreation of the Cucuteni houses where we explored how the prehistoric people of the Moldova region lived their daily life.

The house of the artist was really fascinating. I always heard about this kind of locations but seeing this one in Cucuteni was remarkable. The structure of the house was very unique: the artisanal wood and clay gives it a welcoming feeling. On top of that the long wooden worktables filled with painting tools makes the place the perfect spot for creativity. It’s beautiful seeing how artists are still influenced by the thousands years old aesthetic and adopt it to modern ceramic art pieces. The owner of the house and the artist, Ionela Mihuleac, motivated us to learn more about the Cucuteni culture.

This month, Mihaela proposed to do a crowdfunding campaign to gain money for future projects of Asirys. Each one of us were assigned to create a project related to our speciality so I started to plan a short film that show cases the life of a volunteer in Târgu Frumos and also a project where I ask local residents to share a story about the town which I will then turn it into a narrative short film or a documentary piece. The first piece is a short that focuses in a more natural, calming but at the same time comical approach to my daily routine while the other one is a piece that I want to give the locals an opportunity to share a fascinating story about their life.

Another new thing for me is performing my first workshop. I made a workshop about storytelling and performed it, of course, among the people I work with as it is still dangerous to do it with a large group. It was a test session where I was able to understand what it takes to teach participants the world of narrative storytelling. I first thought the workshop was going to take an hour and a half but it ended up being two hours and a half. It was a very enjoyable teaching and having to share stories with each other was pleasant. As a first timer not everything was going to be perfect: I speak too fast in English that some kids is going to have a hard time following me and some of the explanations might sound too theoretical so it’s better to do it with some drawings. Either way the fact that I finally executed a workshop was a big progress forward after waiting for three months alone in the house.

Throughout the month, all of us got the chance to do these test workshops and so far, it looks like we are doing great. It feels like progress and the first steps to the things that we were promised to do from the very beginning. Eliana taught us how to take photos that are focused on one key theme. Omar showed us how to reinterpret feelings, situation and emotions through percussion instruments. And Deniz introduced us to the world of theatre where we acted out scenes inspired by the Cucuteni culture.

By the end of the month, we also had the first interaction with the abandoned Jewish graveyard of Târgu Frumos. This historical site was strangely astonishing. You can see how plants have overgrown over the graves that are falling off from its’ original placement. Some grave stones are broken into pieces, some of them are still in good shapes while some are maintaining balance from the overgrown roots of the trees. We visited during sunset and the field was beautiful even though the abandoned graves are scattered all around. The local kids of the Rroma community also came to see out of curiosity and Omar responded by playing all kind of fun games with them like that one teacher every students like.

May was indeed a restart month where we slowly got back to the routine that we were supposed to have if the pandemic didn’t took place. We were slowly getting out of the house more often and having more opportunities to explore new places. Comparing to previous months it is a nice contrast of being productive. I hope things get better from here onwards, not only for us but also for the whole world.

Written by Hanul Choi

Hanul is European volunteer for 8 months, in Arts Lab 2.0 project,  funded by European Solidarity Corps, with the support of European Union.


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