Arts Lab 5.0: Dajana Zharassov, Germany - Month 1

I can't believe it has already been one month. I often think about how one day I will wake up, and my experience in Romania will be over in the blink of an eye. However, this one month has already brought me so many exciting things and many wonderful new friends, and I truly believe I will feel very fulfilled when this project ends.

As for my work and experience here, on the first day I arrived, we went to the Cucuteni Jazz Festival, where I did photography. The music festival, the performing artists, and the crafters there were wonderful. It was a bit stressful since I had just arrived in Romania, but I'm happy that I got to attend this festival. Looking back, dancing to jazz music under the stars and then cozying up in a blanket with my friends is truly an unforgettable memory. It was only my first day in Romania, but it already felt like one of the most memorable days of my life.

In the following days, we welcomed all the other volunteers here and got to know each other. I was so happy to meet everyone.

Next, we had the Târgu Frumos Craft Market, where I saw some incredible works, and it was great talking and connecting with the people there. Through the translation of some local volunteers, it was really touching to listen to their stories.

A day after this, we went to Pașcani, where we got the chance to meet more amazing crafters. This was also my first time seeing Romanian dances and songs performed by professionals, and I remember standing by the stage for a long time and admiring the performance. I also had the opportunity to film some interviews, which I had never done before.

Then we had our traditional Romanian night, where we met more local volunteers. I loved it, and I'm looking forward to more traditional nights like this in our home.

After this, we started to prepare for the big Folcloristica festival. On the first day, we went around the village of Todirești and got to know more about Romanian folklore. I loved this day. Everyone in the village welcomed us with open arms into their homes. Seeing how they even prepared food for us touched my heart. Being greeted so warmly and connecting with the people of the village was an incredible feeling.

I was very nervous before the second day because this is when we had to do our first workshop and present ourselves and our country on the stage. In my first workshop, the kids had to design an album cover for the song "Trandafir de la Moldova." I really liked the drawings the kids did for the song, and I found it very touching to read how proud they were to be Romanian and their sweet messages to me. After this, we had our stage presentation. I was really nervous before mine, but it turned out well. I laugh a bit when I remember how my friends and I danced to a German carnival song and how the kids of the village gathered to catch the candy in front of the stage. The performances of the others were big successes too, and I loved how we supported each other on stage.

On the third day, there was a contest between the villages in which we participated. I felt a bit strange giving them scores since it had only been two weeks since I experienced Romanian traditions, but it was beautiful to see each village present themselves and their traditions proudly.

After this, we started our first art residency at the Petru Rareș Highschool, where I collaborated with Violeta. Not everything went according to plan, which drove me a bit crazy in the beginning, but I learned to be more flexible and to adapt. Some of the students kept coming and leaving our workshop, but there was a group of youth who were there for almost all of the days, and to whom Violeta and I connected a lot. Our Romanian folklore floor game painting turned out well in the end, and I feel very fulfilled.

We also traveled to Piatra Neamț for two days, where we also conducted workshops in a school. Violeta and I did a clay workshop based on traditional Romanian blouse patterns. The kids there were really nice and did wonderfully in the workshops. We also visited a Cucuteni archaeology site and met an archaeologist there. I still can't believe that I visited a real archaeology site. The landscape there was breathtaking, and before this, I had never visited a place like this. I will definitely visit it again.
And we also visited Iași and went to lots of art exhibitions, where we met many wonderful artists and got a chance to see their artworks. I have to say Iași is a wonderful city of opportunities.

Oh yeah, and we or I adopted a dog. Its sometimes a bit stressful taking care of him and working especially since he's still a puppy  but I manage. Hes our little volunteer who grew close to my heart. I get happy whenever he greets me so sweetly.

I feel like my life moves fast here with countless experiences every day. I cherish all the moments that I have collected the past few weeks and look forward to the months ahead.

See you for my next report!

Dajana Zharassov is from Germany, and she is participating in a six-month volunteering program within Arts Lab 5.0, a project co-funded by the European Union through the European Solidarity Corps.


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