Sommer and Lindsey in Romania

Sommer and Lindsey are traveling to Romania for two weeks in summer 2009 to report on the status of orphanages, 20 years after the fall of communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. Their project is partially funded by a Meadows Exploration Award. Sommer ’08 graduated in December with degrees in journalism from Meadows School of the Arts and history from Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. Lindsey is a senior marketing major in Cox School of Business and a photojournalist.

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Immersion in Romanian culture

An update from Sommer on their site Romania Revisited:

Lindsey and I ended last week on a sort of bittersweet note. We parted with the American Livada team as they headed home (which admittedly made me want to go home, too) and all of our new Romanian friends to travel to Timisoara. But after meeting our most hospitable and generous hosts Benny and Romona, the homesickness has sort of faded.

Yesterday was amazing. We immersed ourselves in the culture in different sort of way – mainly due to our Romanian hosts. We took a walking tour of the city and visited all of the landmarks. Benny pointed out all of the monuments that trace back to the start of the Revolution in 1989. We went into a church that was particularly important to sparking the revolution, and met a church member who was there as the revolution unfolded. He told us firsthand what he witnessed and how he felt – oral history at its finest.

We had authentic Romanian food for lunch and spent nearly three hours comparing cultures and sharing stories. Romona told us the story of how Benny proposed to her. It was a bit intense for my taste but very romantic (or at least creative) for the two of them.

He recruited four of his friends to dress up like SWAT team members and a police officer (guns and all) and barge into her office. The friend dressed as the officer arrested her and read out the charges – then got her to sign a paper of admittance that really had the proposal. Benny was dressed like one of the SWAT men; he took off his mask and bent down on one knee. So after everyone was scared out of their minds, the lovey-dovey stuff began. It was a charming story (that I’m probably not doing justice).

After lunch we met with Masha Cernicova, a well-known journalist in Timisoara and National Correspondent for different newspapers in the country. She was also Pro Rector of Tibiscus University (where Harry Morgan – Benny’s father – taught) and now is teaching communications and journalism at the Politechnics University.

It was a really fascinating conversation about media bias in the States and in Romania and the role of media in Romanian culture. The best part is Masha is one of those people who tells it like it is. The American media did not do a good job reporting on the orphanges in the early 90s in her opinion, and Romania is not concerned about covering the orphans’ progress now. Disapointing for me, but her observations certainly match what I’ve deduced from conversations over the past week or so.

Today we’re meeting up with the director of another nonprofit to gather more information for one of our stories. And in the next few days we plan on finding Peanut, an orphan that I met three years ago on my trip with HUG.

We’ll be homeward bound on Thursday, but keep thinking of us until then (and after then if you really love us).

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