A Three-Legged Dog

Once upon a time, there was a girl who worked in HR for this clothing company.

She didn’t dislike her job, but there was nothing about it that was excellent either.

She did feel a great deal of compassion for the stray dogs in the parking lot of the clothing factory though, especially one three-legged dog.

3 leg dog


She cared for this dog, taking it for medical treatment, giving it physical therapy.

One day her boss saw the special care that she took with the dog, and he thought that if her heart was tender enough to care about the three-legged dog, maybe she could care just as much about broken people.

So he had a talk with her about what she really wanted to do at work, and they started a foundation that funds projects to help disadvantaged kids. And now she runs that foundation. And she and her boss are probably the most inspirational people I met this week.

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much” – Wise words from Luke 16:10

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Victor Hugo Week

I was reminded of two Victor Hugo quotes this week.

One was on Friday, when I was looking at the website of one of the 1:1 Mentoring project’s new partners: Prieteni Pentru Tine (Friends for you).

They have a Victor Hugo quote on the corner of their page that says:

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Which means something like…Every child we educate is a person we have won [over].

I’m going to have to write something soon to you all about the folks PPT, they really blew me away and they had some amazing stories.

Then, on my last “Baby English Class” Saturday, during an informal conversation with the educators/caregivers/staff at the camin in Bucurestii Noi, totally unprompted, they started telling me that…

“[They] wish more people would come to the camin and talk to the kids…because the kids don’t need things, they need people to pay attention to them.”

I was reminded of this Victor Hugoism:

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Needless to say, I’m excited for the pilot project to move this September; for the first mentors to start visiting the camin.


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A couple of weeks ago, a conference was organized by American Studies students in Bucharest. A call for papers went out, and there were two categories: academic and creative. The topic of the conference was about confused/displaced American identity (I think they called it “Transnational American Identity”).

When I saw the email calling for papers, I was like a nerdy kindergartener who really wants to contribute in class.

ME! I’m a culturally confused American! Pick me! I’ll read a poem!

Last week, as I was riding through the dull, flatland of southeast Romania on a quick road trip, I was reminded of a really spot-on creative piece that was shared during that conference.

The story made me laugh because it’s actually a trip through the mind of one of my former students in Constanta, Tiberius.

Tiberius’ best friend, Stefan, wrote this piece of prose.

He told me that I could post it on my blog, but only if I included this picture of Tiberius:



Home is where the heart is
by Stefan Rosioru

Continue reading

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Easy Party Potatoes (with fresh Dill)

IMG_2382On May 30th, the first ever RomaniaFEST (an event I made up) was a stunning success, mainly because it revolved around massive quantities of Romanian food. We had Mamaliga, Mici, Cozonac, Bere, Vin, Sarmalute, Placinta cu Dovlac, and more…

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More Romanian food = more Party Success.

Here’s the recipe for one easy dish that I made for the party, based on a Mihiela (Constanta Apartment Landlady) recipe, but made CONSIDERABLY healthier because, it’s me.

The original involved deep fat frying the potatoes and smothering them in cheese, but it was surprising to find out how baking them with thinly sliced/cooked down zucchini and onion was just as super satisfying, with no artery clogging nonsense.  Continue reading

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Ugly Ducklings

My little ducklings discovered Photo Booth and proceeded to take some terrifying pictures on Saturday.

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We were reading the story of The Ugly Duckling, in my bilingual story book.

Continue reading

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1:1 Mentoring Project Trajectory

Where are we headed?

Promoting a mentoring project in Bucharest has led me to probably about 50 conversations that generally end with this question or a variation on it:

What’s next?

Today as I gave a talk at the American Corner at the Romanian National Library, I finally could answer that question:

The project will be piloted this year, a professor of Psychology serving as “mentor to the mentors,” with mostly 3rd year psychology students and a few other dedicated volunteers. The training manuel and website functions described in our original project proposal will be developed in tandem with the feedback, stories, and “soul” generated by this pilot project.

There are still a few unknowns… such as whether the project will evolve officially into “Big Brothers Big Sisters of Romania” or simply continue to be inspired by the traditional community based mentoring model that they adhere to… and other structural details still have to be seen to in the next couple of weeks to ensure a productive summer forward for the project, but I can feel that this idea’s time has come.

B&S just hands


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Sassing Bucharest

The following post is all in good fun…because there were a couple snort-worthy moments this week.

Dear Bucharest,

Tuesday: Your botanical garden (or “botanical wilderness?”) only costs 2 lei, but it’s a little overgrown…most of the free parks/random patches of grass in town are better maintained 😉


Thursday: This wikipedia article about Lasar Catargiu offers no clues about why this statue near Piata Romana depicts a woman woefully telling her child,

“No, all the wheat is for him.”


Friday: After Joe Biden’s remarks this week in Romania, about 10 “activists” gathered in Piata Victoriei to…wave slogans about civil society. Yup, because Joe Biden told them to…?


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The Ruth School

In a continuing attempt to understand more about local initiatives helping the marginalized in Romania, this morning I got to visit “The Ruth School.”

The Ruth School reaches out mainly to Roma children who face barriers at public school including fees and discrimination. The school has a wonderful approach that takes it’s neighborhood’s needs seriously. The paid staff at the school is all Romanian – teachers, cooks, administration, etc., and their work is supplemented by volunteers.

On my visit I saw the ways that routines such as teeth brushing, hand washing, and eating a nutritious lunch aid education. The staff also considers the children’s health, eyesight, warmth, and other holistic concerns while educating them.

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While the staff and I were walking down the hallway during a break time, all the kids were washing their hands.

Imagine about 40 little kids in a hallway, all grinning and sudsy… blowing big bubbles from the watery mixture they conserved in their palms.  Poți?  I take a wet high five from a third grader and try blowing a bubble myself.

The feel of the place was all about positive reinforcement; it reminded me of when I was little. My mom used to cup my hands in hers and say “Wow, your hands smell so great! You must have washed them!” The kids were all confident in smiles and soap.

The security guard at the door was all jokes. Continue reading

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Fara Internet…

Haven’t had internet for the last two days, and my roommate’s out of town, so I got out the acrylics to occupy myself.


Backlit self-portrait at 6AM


Leaves and flowers bursting at 11PM

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Thank you, kind stranger, for the flowers. They smell like Heaven.

Thank you, kind stranger, for the flowers. They smell like Heaven.

1,000 help-a-foreigner points to anyone that knows what these blooms are called!

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