Romania journalism project records history in the making
Journalism volunteers in Romania are continuing to take the Projects Abroad newspaper The Brasov Visitor from strength to strength. The first edition appeared a little over two years ago and since then, as well as offering many budding journalists their first opportunity to see their names in print, the paper has provided a fascinating chronicle of changing life in Romania.
In last month's edition Nick Ingrams, one of the first volunteers to work on the paper in 2004, writes about returning to Brasov two years after his first visit. In an article headed "The Faces and Places Change but the Spirit of Brasov Lives On" he remarks on the assortment of foreign-themed bars and restaurants that have sprung up around town, from Scottish and Irish bars to an Indian restaurant and Chinese takeaway. He worries that this may come at the expense of traditional Romanian cuisine and culture, but is also pleased that these venues serve as meeting places where foreigners and Romanians mix easily and where visitors can integrate into the local social scene.
There is also a report on another modern import; the first ever speed-dating event held in Brasov. Sadly, our volunteer reporter's repertoire of chat-up lines seem not to have got her very far with the local men folk, although if the initiative continues then future volunteers may have more success.
The latest edition also contains a write-up of the Romanian MTV awards, perfectly highlighting the way Romanian musical tastes are combining with global celebrity brands to create an internationally-recognisable but distinctly Romanian hybrid. Meanwhile, veteran volunteer Barbara Turner takes the time to interview a broad cross-section of the Romanian public, from policemen to pottery-sellers, to find out their views on the current bird-flu scare and their conflicting emotions about working abroad to make ends meet.
Volunteers in recent months have also written eye-opening accounts of life in a country shifting determinedly, but nonetheless awkwardly, from Communism to European integration, providing important reminders that issues such as the plight of orphans and abandoned children still deserve the world's attention.
In years to come, it will certainly be interesting to look over past issues of our paper and enjoy such a detailed record of Romania's recent history. Of course, some things never change, and the account of the June volunteers' social event reassures us all that letting your hair down Romanian-style is as riotous an experience as ever!
The Brasov Visitor is the only English-language publication serving the expatriate community and English-speaking Romanians in and around Brasov. Its monthly editions feature articles on Romanian culture and society, news of events in Brasov, and the work of Projects Abroad's volunteers. You can read it at www.brasov-visitor.ro