Monday, May 9, 2011
Gandhi, Fresh Gilt, and Blue Sky Days
Just as in the states, the last month or so of the school year is filled with many extra events. Coming up is a Youth Day celebration in the park on Sunday, the 29th (though the actual holiday is on the 1st) and the painting of our peace mural, which has been designed and located (a wall at the school's entrance), but not painted. There are doubtless other events I'll be told about, too. This past Saturday, the National Monologue Contest took place in Oradea and I was asked to be a judge. Thirty students--county winners (ninth-twelfth grades)from all over the country--came to Oradea for the weekend. The topic this year was "The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others." (Gandhi) I had judged at the county level, too, and enjoyed it and was glad to be asked for the national level. The other judges, all Romanian, are a terrific bunch of educators who, like so many of their American counterparts, wanted to find ways to honor all the finalists. They looked to me to help come up with titles, so I found myself dictating to the certificate scribe things like "Most Effective Use of Props" and "Most Dramatic Costume," and "Best Singing Voice" (for the one contestant who sang!). I was asked to speak for the judges at the awards ceremony and was able to make a little pitch for volunteerism, something still looked upon askance in Romania since the communist era's twisted version (mandatory volunteerism!). The entire weekend's program was extremely well organized, and I was delighted that it included a "sneak preview" of the National Theatre (Photos) which has been closed for restoration for the past four years. I was stunned at the richness of the interior. Even while the little nagging thought--but what about the country's roads and rails, for God's sake?--kept popping up in my mind, I admired the gold gilt work, the beautiful upholstery, the modern lighting, the deep stage and lovely box seating, knowing that this, too, is a necessity for the hearts and souls of the people.**** I'm basking in the slowly warming weather. Mornings are still nippy and I haven't packed away the blankets from my bed, but afternoons (Photos) are becoming truly springlike and everyone's spirits are lifted. I've had nodding and brief conversations with villagers on my way home from school. They've come out of the barriers of their walled-in homes and are sociable. Some of the grandmothers are out with little ones who are eager to interact with me. Smiles, waves and blown kisses are always easy to translate. Tonight I've been invited to a cookout and I may not even take a coat!