Project: Discover Rural
Discover Rural is hosted by AIESEC Cluj-Napoca, Romania. As part of the project, us volunteers were sent to two different schools located two nearby towns outside of Cluj-Napoca to teach English and impart knowledge on the sustainable development goals to children and young-adults, aged 7-18.
This was mainly done through the introduction of our respective local cultures and through the use of very simple English due to the language barrier. We planned our class activities such that they would be able to cater to the respective language proficiencies of our students. In order to deliver our lessons to younger children with lower language proficiencies, we tried to expose them to the simpler SDGs through simple tasks such as saving water.
Since older children were more linguistically equipped to understand complex concepts, we were able to effectively explain the SDGs and instead organised brainstorming sessions on how these issues could be tackled. Through these class activities, we hoped to spread awareness regarding global issues and contribute to their knowledge of the world around them.
Castles, Farms and Wait... What?
In addition to teaching the students, there were many other highlights throughout my volunteering journey. During our leisure time, I was able to travel with my project team to several other parts of the country such as Brashov and Bucharest, the capital of Romania. However, I would have to say that my most memorable experience was the short weekend homestay at the headmaster’s house located in a small village, 10km away from the town that I was volunteering at.
Here, I experienced the true meaning of living in a rural area. There was literally nothing in the village except for houses, plantations and a small restaurant/bar. Every household in the village was self-sufficient and had their own little farmhouse and plantation patch. They grew their own vegetables, brew their own wine spirits and even had farmed pigs and chickens. During my stay, they taught me how to milk cows, catch chickens and pick my own vegetables and fruits. I was given a brief glimpse how life in countryside is like. It was definitely my most memorable experience in Romania as I felt that I will never be able to have the opportunity to experience the country life, especially in Singapore.
Learning Points and Takeaways
Living in totally different country and culture for six weeks has made me a more independent, social and open individual. I was given the opportunity to step out of my comfort zone and do things that I would not have done in Singapore. One example would be giving a presentation to a large group of around 30 students for a whole hour. As someone who prefers to shy away from the crowd, I would have never imagined that I would be able to deliver a presentation in front of such crowd. In addition, being around other international volunteers and Romanians has taught me the importance of being culturally aware and has groomed me into a global citizen. The time I’ve spent in Romania and the friendships that I have forged with my project mates, the AIESECers in Cluj, the teachers and students in Romania will always stay with me. Given the opportunity, I would love to participate in another overseas volunteering project as I found the experience to be extremely fulfilling. I would also encourage anyone who is open-minded and passionate about providing quality education for youth to give this project a try!
Chloe embarked on her Global Volunteer trip this summer to Romania on the Discover Rural Project. To apply for more opportunities visit https://www.aiesecinnus.org/global-volunteer.