Thank you, America!

De prin lume, Proiectele Vrancea Altfel

It was a great honor for me to be part of the most recent of the amazing project that is the Professional Fellowship Program. My experiences in United States, trainings, meetings and professional experiences in Washington, Toledo, Chicago, Boston, and New York City, helped me embrace the cultural diversity of our modern, global reality and have greatly impacted my career as a Romanian civic activist and community journalist.

European fellows together with famous Professor Cornel West at Harvard Univerity and Margareta Matache, Romanian  scholar at the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University. 

It connected me with a remarkable community of activists, community leaders, professors, scholars, journalists, politicians and peers, many of whom will forever remained mentors and friends. I had the chance to experience the real America as well the America my new-found colleagues want it to be. People who work hard for their fellow Americans, with hands, heart and skill, working to do good, to shape the world around them in a way that looks to the future.

My internship was at Massachusetts Community Action Network (MCAN) in the historic city of Boston, where I met people with vision and passionate for their work and public mission, people whose lives hold meaning and purpose. They opened up not just their city and homes for me, but their hearts and souls and also my eyes.

I was really impressed by my American mentor, Mr. Lew Finfer, Director/Lead Organizer at MCAN, the hardest and most dedicated worker I ever met in my life. He is an exemplary role model for Massachusetts civic society. I could see how serious he is in his work for progressive causes in this great American state during my four weeks internship in his office. As a former communist country, we desperately need to have these kinds of leaders in Romania.

Romanian dinner in Boston

I learned from him that a real leader heals the wounds of communities and, ultimately, of nations.

I look forward to hosting Mr. Finfer when he pays a professional visit in February 2018 in my city of Focsani.

Special thanks to my host lady, Betsy Drinan, a wonderful woman and teacher with a big heart and also to all the good people that I have met while staying in Boston.

 

Embracing the entire world at Professional Fellows Congress

The four days at Professional Fellows Congress in Washington D.C. was a true gift for me, which offered the opportunity to connect with representatives of nations from the entire world. Those days in D.C. weren’t just about training.

They were a true connection we succeeded in making with the representatives in Professional Fellows Congress. I met such a diverse cross section of people from around the world, whose goals are to do good for their communities. I feel like I embraced the entire world through them! Now, I check the time zone so often when I feel that I want to say hello to my new friends from America, Uruguay, Indonesia, India, Ukraine, Pakistan, Cambodia or Philippines.

The Professional Fellows Congress is a wonderful base for friendship, understanding and exchanges of good practices. I would respectfully suggest to the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ committee that in the future this congress grant more time for networking because I really believe in the power of face-to-face human connection. The fellows need more time to build lasting, sustainable personal relationships for future cooperation.

I returned to Romania after two months, full of energy, new ideas and hope, with new-found tools, ready to work with my youth to change things around me, work with others in my community to achieve common goals.

In my country, our government often seems to view independent journalists and civic activists as public enemies. But in America I felt respected, appreciated, encouraged and I was helped to improve my skills and commitment. For all of these things I would like to thank you U.S. Department of State for creating and keeping this program alive in difficult financial times. I also add my appreciation to all American taxpayers who make this global exchange possible.

You know that is a very effective way to make true friends for America around.

And lastly, I would like to congratulate all the WSOS/GLC team for their hard work in creating the good atmosphere that allowed the entire Fall 2017 WSOS Professional Fellows delegation to achieve their goals. All of my 17 colleagues from South East Region of Europe are true gifts for their countries! We learned about the power of community organizing, the power of working together for the betterment of our communities. We all have understood that the changes that benefit the people do not happen because of Super Heroes. Success is achieved through the hard organizing work of regular people like them.

Nothing changes if nothing is changed. I understood this working with them and I found this diverse environment to be incredibly useful and inspirational.

Thank you for making it possible and for that I am really thankful!

Also, thank to Aurora, Isabel and Jack for all their help and encouragement.

Silvia Vrînceanu Nichita – “Me, you and them” Association Focșani

More than 250 Professional Fellows from 48 countries participated in Professional Fellows Congresses in Washington.