Global Volunteers Alumni Tracey and Tom of Colorado, with sons Matthew and Andrew say their two weeks volunteering in Romania enhanced their understanding of each other. The program journal they share here describes their service together as a family – helping disabled Romanian children, teaching conversational English to high school students, and exploring the history and culture of Romania.
Our program with Global Volunteers was a true family effort sharing our time and talents at a children’s hospital in Barlad, along with 12 other volunteers. There were three primary areas where we lent our skills:
1. Working with Special Needs Children
Our first assignment was to care for the special needs children who live at the “placement center”, or orphanage. They spend up to two weeks at a time in the hospital receiving medical attention, physical therapy, and personalized attention. It was our job as volunteers to play, feed and stimulate the children, and just give them individualized love and hugs.
2. Painting and Decorating at the Hospital
The second area is where Tom and Matthew spent a good portion of their time. They helped paint and decorate two of the hospital rooms. The hospital staff was grateful for their physical labor. Little did Tom and Matthew know when they volunteered that they would also have to use their creative, artistic skills!
Fortunately, some of the teenage girls who were volunteering with us stepped in and outlined some really fun scenes on the walls that Tom and Matt filled in with bright colors. These paintings are sure to bring smiles to the children who stay there.
“It was a true family effort sharing our time and talents.” – Tracey, Romania Alumna
3. Conversational English with High School Students
The third area that the team contributed to was helping local public school students with their conversational English skills. This is where Andrew lent his talents and he really flourished. He worked primarily with high school students who study English as a second language in their schools, so they are relatively fluent. This experience gave them a chance to practice speaking with a native English speaker and to learn some of the nuances of the language. Andrew really excelled at coming up with creative and fun ways for these students to engage. He played “heads up” and Taboo, took them on a walking tour of the local zoo, had them participate in some creative writing exercises, and played different sports with them.
I spent most of my time with the children in the hospital, but I did get to spend a day with Andrew in his classroom. Tom and Matthew each took a break from painting to see Andrew work with the students. And in the afternoons when Andrew wasn’t working on a lesson plan, he came over to the hospital to play with the children. There were several afternoons when we all came together in the nursery to bond with the children. It was a very profound experience for each of us.
“It was a very profound experience for each of us.”
Play Time, Too!
There was some play time, too! On the weekend in between our two weeks at the hospital, we were able to do some sightseeing. Together with the other volunteers, we traveled to Transylvania in the Carpathian Mountains and got to explore two towns and some castles. We saw Brasov and the Black Church. We toured Dracula’s castle and we also toured the royal family castle in Peles. During our time in Barlad, we were able to immerse ourselves in some of the culture as well. We went out to a few local restaurants, and we were treated to a dinner at a family home in a local village. The family prepared a true “farm to table” dinner with homemade bread and wine (and Palinka!), stuffed grape leaves from their own vines, fresh pork and chicken from their own farm, and homemade apple “cake”, better known to us a strudel. What an amazing experience! Another evening we were also invited to a local monastery for a tour and to share dinner.
Our trip to Romania was this year’s highlight for our family. Our time volunteering had a powerful impact on each of us, especially as we worked at the children’s hospital. We loved working with the other team members, our team leader Mihaela, her husband, and the staff at the hospital.
Our cultural immersion and taking in the history and beauty of Romania will remain as fond memories for many years to come.
“Our trip to Romania was a highlight this year for our family. Our time volunteering had a powerful impact on each of us, especially as we worked at the children’s hospital. We loved working with the other team members, Mihaela, her husband, and the staff at the hospital. Our cultural immersion and taking in the history and beauty of Romania will remain as fond memories for many years to come.” – Tom
To learn more about family volunteering abroad, check these stories out:
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