Arts Lab Report: My last thoughts

 What a strange time we are all passing through. I think nobody was expecting that suddenly the whole living styles we got used to for decades, would change, in one day. We couldn't expect, because we were all doing our things, making plans for ourselves, without realizing the fact, whatever we think about the future, it chooses its own path. Anything unexpected can start, and end in one day.

I wasn't expecting to spend my period of pandemic in Romania. It was around this time last year, after graduating from my master's degree on ceramics, when I was thinking of doing the things I love for some time, without rushing. Because for a really long time I was busy with studying and working. I did 2 student exchanges in Europe between those years and they were the most important life events for me in that period. This longing of good times made me think of volunteering, to be in Europe again. I traveled a lot, thanks to my previous job, but spending some days in foreign cities wasn't so satisfying. I love the feeling of being a foreigner in a place, and trying to adapt myself to new things. It helps you to get the purest information about the culture, as well as it helps you to discover your own self, a lot. This is exactly what happened to me in these 8 months, in Romania. 

Well, everything has to end someday, as I mentioned before. My project also has came to an end. I still remember the first time I arrived in Târgu Frumos. I came here with a lot of beautiful thoughts in my mind. I was excited to be a foreigner again, to discover a new culture. Also, as I studied art and worked in the art field for a long time, I was excited to participate in an art project, and so enthusiastic about showing my passion to others. Well, that thoughts in the beginning, when I looked back to my first day, changed remarkably. I wasn't expecting anything happened during the time, for the good, mostly.

The unlucky thing was finding myself in the middle of the pandemic crisis. After a small time arriving in the town, Romania entered the state of emergency situation and I found myself in a lock-down with my 3 colleagues for 2 months. We couldn't interact with people personally, we couldn't travel, the situation was unclear. I think I mentioned it in one of my previous reports, I stopped calling it an unlucky time, after the first frustration. Because what happened in those times, changed my life for good. While I was with myself all the time, I discovered so many things about myself, I discovered my true passion, painting, which I enjoyed doing every day, I learned to be patient which I wasn't even a little before, I started to be friend with the blur, and learned the biggest lesson: anything can happen unexpectedly and life can change in one day. I think the humanity learned that lesson in this period, very well.

It was the opportunity basically, of changing an awful situation to a useful one. After the state of emergency, when the lock down has ended, we started to turn back to our new normal. Still careful, still aware of the situation, we started to interact with people. It was the time I started to learn about the culture better. I started to discover where I had been living in, talking with people, traveling a little. I was amazed with the hospitality and people's interest in the foreigners. I tasted the food, heard the music, saw the dance. With a lot of similarities to my own culture, I started feeling more and more  close to the traditional side of this town. It was definitely worth to experience! 

While learning about the culture, I was also showing some aspects from my culture and profession, ceramics. It was another unexpected thing to me, wasn't thinking, even a little, that people would be that interested in arts in this town! Because you know, it's not a big city and people don't usually have much opportunities to reach art activities. Even in the villages, it's harder. But I can honestly say that, I haven't met before with such people who are more talented, and interested in arts, especially clay. From children to older teachers, they were creating amazing things, and most of them were saying that it was the first time they've seen a ceramic clay. That made me feel amazing.

Beside the workshops and activities, I helped the organisation to transform the old youth center to a ceramic studio. We did a great job actually, now we have a proper studio fully equipped, waiting for the next generation of volunteers who are passionate about creating ceramics. We organized a small opening party, respecting the sanitary obligations, afterwards I started having my ceramic workshops there. I had helpers, of course. Our local volunteer team, I call them amazing girls, learned the process of ceramics in a short time and started to help me in my workshops. Besides the activities, I was creating products inspired by the traditional patterns. From the first day, I was interested in the art history of Romania. I did research in the books in the library of our youth center, also online. My coordinator and local volunteers helped me a lot to learn about Cucuteni, a fascinating prehistoric culture itself and a beautiful place nearby. Also within the Folcloristica visits to neighbor villages, I saw beautiful cultural events; clothes, dances, music, food, helped me appreciate this country more and more.

Now it's sad that this experience is ending, but it's also exciting that the new adventures will begin in my life. The things I learned in this project shaped my vision a lot. I know that I'm more clear now with myself, my passions, and the things I want to do in the future. It's safe to say that I'm more developed now. I had a beautiful experience, I met with beautiful people and I discovered a beautiful country. Yes, I wasn't expecting anything that happened, and I wasn't expecting that those things would change me, and change my life, for good. Coming here was a thing that I will never regret.

Well, life is going on. While I'm starting to something new, it'll also be a new chapter in Arts Lab project. I'm sure the next generation of volunteers will learn so much as well as we did. What I can say lastly is, it's totally worth to discover this Beautiful Town!

Written by Deniz Ataman

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