Arts Lab 5.0: Dajana Zharassov, Germany - Month 4

Hello again! Welcome to my fourth report here in Romania.
First of all, Happy New Year, everyone! I wish everyone the best. I ended my year with a lot more knowledge and discoveries about myself, more artistic knowledge, a year full of memories such as my school graduation, coming to Romania to be part of Arts Lab 5.0, and meeting people from so many different countries that I now call friends. I am thankful for 2023, which was a stressful but happy year, and I am excited for 2024. I am happy to experience the first few months here in Romania.

This month started with us participating in a Rroma event in Iași where each of us had to present our country on the stage. I really enjoyed this event. The performances were great, from the Traditional Romanian dances and songs to the traditional Rroma dances and songs. It was so much fun to see each of us on stage, and I loved how we supported each other. I did the same Karnevals dance and threw candies to the kids that screamed Camille. I loved how the Rroma performers also joined us to dance on stage. After this, we got interviewed about our experience here in Romania, which was later shown on TV. Seeing this was very exciting for me and my family. After that, we went to some workshops in Iași, like a Tarabana workshop, which was really nice.

We organized some more Cucuteni workshops in schools. My workshop consists of them choosing a Cucuteni symbol and then doing an illustration based on it and its meaning. After they finish, they can come up and try the Scannography with me using Cucuteni materials.

We also participated in a sewing workshop from a woman named Maria in a village. I loved meeting and learning from her. She was very sweet. I appreciate moments with local people like this here in Romania a lot.

We also have a new pet, surprisingly haha! This time it's a cat, but I have to say he adopted himself. One day he just kept waiting and walking into the house with us, eating, sleeping, waking up, meowing, and demanding to be let out, and then going on his way and coming back the next day. Well, now, this is a daily occurrence, and he's basically our pet, loved by everyone!

Before the holidays started, we gathered and celebrated Christmas together and did a Secret Santa. All of us made a dish from our country, and we ate and celebrated together. I have to say that this was the first time that I made a German dish, which was Kartoffelpuffer since I grew up with my mom, who is from Kazakhstan, and my father, who is from Uzbekistan but grew up in Russia. So we mostly eat Eastern European and Kazakh food at home. It's one of the easy dishes, so it turned out good, and I was really happy. My great-grandmother was a Russian-German from Ukraine, so I am happy to connect more to my German roots here in Romania. Also, it was really beautiful to see all the love me and my friends have for each other when I saw all the presents standing around Tio, our wood piece volunteer from Catalonia haha. We also learned more about Romanian traditions on Christmas and New Year and learned the song "dom dom să-nălțăm" to go to houses on Christmas and sing. Mihaela, our coordinator, also made us some delicious papanași.

After this, the holidays started, and I spent some days at home enjoying the free days. Some people left to travel, and my dear roommate Raph went back to England. Having the room for myself after such a long time and the house being more empty felt a bit weird.

Me and Ahmed used 3 of the free days to travel to Sighișoara on the 24th December, in which we spent 2 days sitting in trains and train stations haha! Other than that, I really enjoyed the trip. The city is beautiful, and I enjoyed its rich and historical streets and buildings. We didn't consider that on Christmas most stores would be closed haha, but thankfully the touristic attractions such as the old wood stairs from medieval times, the church, and cemetery were open. And also, it was just breathtaking to walk through the forest with the snow falling and enjoying the medieval city center. It was interesting to see the street names being written in old German under the Romanian. I now know about the Romanian and German royal history and its influence in the medieval times.

After this, I traveled back to Germany. It was a bit of a weird feeling to leave our little house here in Târgu Frumos, but it was nice to see my friends and family again back in Germany. And of course, I was happy to see Arty and my cats again. I celebrated New Year in Germany with my family, which was really nice. It was so amazing to eat our traditional food again. I have to say coming back to my home and not having 10 other people to talk to was a bit odd haha. Before coming to Romania, I had always thought that I wouldn't enjoy living with many other people, but the experience here showed me many new things about myself and this is one of them: I really enjoy living together with other people, socializing with them, and having our cute little moments together when meeting in the kitchen haha. I have to say that our group is chaos sometimes, but it's a lovely one which I will surely miss when this project will end.

After I came back to Romania, we started working again and continued our art residency. Cosmin wrote a great poem which me and Aliye recorded in Romanian and English for the audiobook, which is being edited with sound effects right now. After this, me and Cosmin started planning for the story by researching the Jewish Iasi history and the timeline of events in the second world war. To make the story historically correct, we created characters and made character descriptions and planned together, and Cosmin wrote the story. I was helping him from time to time, but he didn't need much help because he really has a talent for these kinds of things. The art residency at Moldova was amazing, and I am happy to have had Cosmin as my participant in my workshop. He did an amazing job.

I also hosted the German night which was a bit stressful because some plans got changed and I had to plan it in 1 day, but I think it went well. I tried to make many of the German dishes for the first time in my life. In the end, it turned out great, and the Kartoffelknödel were pretty popular. I have to say a big thank you to Ahmed for helping me to prepare the food. I don't think I would have managed without him.
One week after this, Ahmed also hosted the Moroccan night where me, Raph, Mohammed, and Sena helped him. The Moroccan night was amazing and he did great. I love the Moroccan dates!

It also got really cold now, and a lot of snow fell, so we are suffering a little from the cold haha. But I enjoy the snow here in Romania a lot. In the area where I live in Germany, it has been so long since I had seen so much snow. So after we got a big wood delivery where we stood outside in the line and stocked up our fire room like the little dwarves from Snow White, we all went out and had a big snow-fight.

Hassan went up and threw snowballs on me from the balcony, and me and girls were throwing each other in the snow haha. After this, me and Olha laid in the snow and watched the stars. This snowy day is one of my most favorite memories here in Romania.

I can't believe it has already been 4 months here. And for any future volunteers reading this: the time really passes quickly here, so cherish the few months you have! See you next time!

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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