Arts Lab 4.0: Month II, Maja Mörchen - A new level

Now I have already been part of this project for two months which means 1/3rd of my time here is over. That is crazy to think about. It simultaneously feels like I have been here forever and like I just arrived yesterday.

My second month started with us participating in an event in Ruginoasa. We did some workshops but also got to watch and participate in dances and other traditions. Also, we visited the castle there. The next day we visited the location of the Folcloristica Festival. I especially liked that we got to experience part of a church service there. An even bigger highlight was the fact that the wood for our oven got delivered so we knew that we would be warm and comfortable in winter. For that we gladly dealt with stepping over wood slices and passing some men cutting the wood for a few days.

The next week we spent two free days in Constanța. We walked barefoot on the beach and saw the sunrise but also visited museums about art and Folklore. I really loved spending time at the sea!

After that we started preparing for Folcloristica. I got to prepare and then execute another workshop about cross-stitch embroidery where I tried a more gamified approach. At the event we also got to experience more Romanian culture like dances and food. On the second day we got to judge the performances of different villages. I didn’t really feel like I had the expertise needed for that but I am very honored to have been given that position. These performances were really impressive and interesting and overall, it was a fun, and also educating event. I really feel like I got to know local traditions to a new level.

This impression of Folklore is also really useful because right now we are in the last steps of preparing the exhibition for the Alternative Museum of Folklore after facilitating workshops about Miorița at a library in Iași. It is amazing watching the projects of all of my fellow artists come together, I really live with insanely talented and creative people! I also love that I got to participate in some of their works! Whether designing cards for Sara’s game, doing a sculpture for Yavuzhan’s collection, painting for Federica’s mural or being a test audience or choir for Cihan… I really love this collaboration! I feel like I don’t even need to do my own project even though I am very happy with the way it’s taking shape.

During this month I also got to experience other cultures. Obviously by living in Romania and also by living with a diverse group of international people but especially through the intercultural events that have been happening. Sara, Yavuzhan and Cihan showed us the food, dances and other traditions of their home countries Spain and Turkey. It was really fun and interesting and I definitely need to visit the places they showed us in the future. I am already thinking about what I want to share about my home country. 

Something I want to change for the next month is that I want to focus more on improving my language skills. My English definitely benefits from me speaking it daily, even though none of us are Native speakers and we mix in parts of all of our languages. But because it was such a busy month, we unfortunately didn’t have time for a lot of Romanian lessons and I think I also should practice outside of the lessons. But I shouldn’t undervalue the lessons of daily life in Romania, especially grocery shopping, either. Living with two Italians I should also use the chance to improve my Italian more. It is obviously easier for me to use English but in the future, I will try to speak Italian with them. And of course, I want to pick up some more words and phrases in Turkish, Arabic and Spanish too.

Overall, it was a busy but happy month with inspiring events. Other than seeing the sea I especially loved the connections I made with the other volunteers, local and international. I am really thankful to be part of this project and small obstacles like homesickness or infestations become insignificant compared to the value of this experience.

Maja Mörchen is from Germany and she is doing a long-term volunteering project in our organisation, under Arts Lab 4.0, a project funded by European Solidarity Corps, a programme of the European Union.