Morven Montgomery - Creative & Performing Arts, Drama in Romania
When I arrived in Brasov I had no idea what to expect other than lots of soup and a possible encounter with Dracula. I had booked my trip about a year in advance and so I had plenty of time to think about what it might be like when I got there, who I would meet, what I would achieve. The truth is that I just could not predict it which I think was part of the magic. For months before I left I had a little ball of nervous energy whizzing about in my stomach every time Romania crossed my mind.
On my first night I was driven from the airport to my host’s home. She greeted me with open arms and I instantly felt welcome. She stayed in an apartment at the top of a hill five minutes walk from the centre of Brasov. My host showed me around the apartment, helped me to settle in and chatted away to me like an old friend. There was a wonderful view from her balcony and as I sat eating my first Romanian meal I wondered what would happen over the next three months.
The following morning I was met by one of the Projects Abroad staff who showed me the way to the office and told me a bit about Brasov. I then met my project supervisor Alexandra who showed me and Amy (another drama volunteer) the way around Brasov, we were told what to expect from our time in Romania and from the drama programme. We went for a traditional Romanian lunch which was tasty! Then returned to the office where I met the other volunteers and made plans for the evening.
Over the next three months I became much closer to the other volunteers and we regularly went out for meals and saw the sights together. Spending time with people from different cultures and countries was a truly amazing experience and I feel like I have made some friends for life. There is a lot to do in Brasov and nearby so I was never bored. I learned a lot about the Romanian way of life and its history. Is there poverty in Brasov? Yes, but you can see change happening right in front of you! I was there for such a short period of time but I saw and felt the way that the country was developing. It was wonderful to see and to feel like you are contributing to the growth of a country.
Now, onto the work! Amy and I worked closely with our project leader to help develop the drama programme. We spent our Mondays planning the week’s lessons, and then worked in orphanages, primary schools and high schools. Putting on plays narrated in Romanian for children too young to take part, teaching them animal names, colours and some basic English. We visited the primary school once or twice a week disguising our English lessons as games, which they loved. Taking the primary school children on a trip to the zoo was a real highlight of my trip, seeing their faces light up as we presented our parrot puppets! The children named the puppets Kiki and Coco, Kiki and Coco taught the children some animal names and then played games with them in a nearby field!
We also worked a lot with the high school children, they had a good knowledge of English and simply talking to us improved their vocabulary and pronunciation. We aimed to put on a performance towards the end of my trip. Using the internet, books and our own backgrounds in drama to teach our pupils some of the basic techniques and improve their dramatic skills. They really looked forward to lessons and were enthusiastic about everything we taught them although a little nervous at times. After 2 and half months of hard work we successfully organised a venue, posters tickets and not to mention a bunch of very excited pupils and put on a big night of performances! As I stood at the back of the room watching them, I felt a wave of pride sweep over me. We had done it! After 3 months of hard work we put on a performance for an audience of over 100 people! Our pupils loved every minute of the lime light. I had never felt so honoured to be a part of something.
During my three months, I managed to experience 3 seasons of weather, the hot end of summer, a very short autumn and some fantastic snow! I made wonderful friends not only from Romania but from all over the world. I learned so much about the Romanian culture and really improved my knowledge of drama. I even learned a little about salsa dancing. I still talk about my trip now and I don’t think that I will ever forget it. I would recommend a trip to Brasov to everyone!