By Valeriu Maxim
Arizona Community Press | www.azcommunitypress.org
Romania is a beautiful, small Eastern European country, its surface of 92,043 sq. miles is slightly smaller than the size of Wyoming. Nature was very generous with Romania, the country is bathed by the Black Sea to the east, the second river by length Europe, the Danube River forms the country’s south-western border with Bulgaria and Serbia and the Carpathian Mountains cover 31% of its surface.
Some of the personalities that Romania has given to the world and which are sometimes remembered in United States are: Dracula and his castle in Transylvania which brings 18,000 tourists a year, George Enescu – composer, violinist, pianist, conductor and teacher well known for his brilliant Romanian Rhapsody,
Henri Coanda known for Coandă-1910, an experimental aircraft constructed for air-reactive propulsion any his many other inventions, Aurel Vlaicu who built three original, arrow-shaped airplanes and died while trying to fly over the Carpathians. Some of Romania’s esteemed poets and writers are Mihai Eminescu, Ion Creanga, Ion Luca Caragiale, Mihail Sadoveanu, George Cosbuc, and Mircea Eliade. Athletes with international achievements include Gheorghe Hagi in soccer ,our national sport,
and Nadia Comăneci – winner of three Olympic gold medals at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal and the first female gymnast to be awarded a perfect score of 10 in an Olympic gymnastics event. Contemporary singers are Inna, Alexandra Stan, Edward Maya, Dan Balan, Akcent, and Radio Killer.
Romania’s population count is 20,121,641 (2013) and about 8,250,000 (2006) form the diaspora. 89% of the population are Romanians, 6% Hungarians, 3.5% are Roma or Gypsy and 1.5% are represented by other ethnic groups.
The total number of Romanians living in the United States in 2002 was estimated to be 1,200,000 even though the 1990 U.S. Census data reveals less than half of this number. The top four cities of residence for Romanians in the US are New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Detroit. A very important segment of the Romanian community in the USA is represented by the 4,000 professors and students in universities across all American states. In Canada, the estimated number of Romanians is around 400,000.
There are over 84,000 Romanians living in the Valley of the Sun, their main field of work is caring for the elderly. Chances are that if you have had a grandmother or grandfather who needed care, you’ve also heard about these Romanian group homes. Romanians have a caring nature, we are born, we are cared for, we live, grow old and we care for our elders ourselves, thanking them for all that they gave us, closing a circle of life. The Romanians live happy lives and have various social activities interacting with each other in different circumstances:
- Exhibitions, shows – they are interested in any manner of cultural manifestation American or Romanian. The Romanian National Day on the 1st of December people go to church, pray and light candles for the people that they have left behind in Romania. Soon after we celebrate The Romanian Festival at Peoria High School with traditional food and music, sharing our traditions and our dances with our American friends who are always invited to discover the beauty of our culture. The Romanian Festival is designed to celebrate the local Romanian community. Businesses will have the chance to showcase their products and services, and all proceeds from the festival will go to abandoned children in Romania. The festival will feature authentic Romanian cuisine, a vibrant live cultural show, and inflatables for the kids, games, and a raffle grand prize. Honorary Consulate General of Romania of Arizona and Arizona State University Professor, Ileana Alexandra Orlich, always offers an opening speech at the event and encourages all Romanians to attend the festival and to get a taste of home while supporting a great cause.
- Social meetings – they go out to restaurants and clubs and they are always open to the new-comers from Romania, always willing to help them anyway they can. Sometimes they get together to watch a game of soccer or other national events.
- Events organized by Romanian organizations – they never miss the official meetings, a perfect occasion for them to taste the traditional cuisine and exchange opinions about what’s happening back home, meet new people and make new friends. Our soccer games represent a great opportunity for the entire family to enjoy the Memorial Weekend with friends and family, while cheering for their favorite team.
- Church – Romanians have a very strong relationship with God and the Romanian Churches, building many spiritual locations for themselves. The most frequented Romanian Churches in Arizona are: St. John, Romanian Orthodox Church located in Glendale-Phoenix, Exaltation Of The Holy Cross Orthodox Church of Phoenix, Happy Valley Romanian Pentecostal Church, Agape Christian Church of Peoria, and New Life Romanian Church in Phoenix.
Living in United States, a very different society from the one they came from, the Romanians are trying to pass to the next generation the native language and traditions. Although extremely happy with what America represents and gives to them, Romanians continue to feel connected to their ethnic roots. The latent home sickness and the constant interest for the social and economic evolution of Romania determines them to search for information and to relate and make associations with other Romanians. Even more, as an ethnic group, they have specific media needs and interests, being both Romanian and American at the same time.
Interested in learning Romanian? The Romanian literary language is based on the Daco-Romanian of the historic region of Walachia, in southern Romania. Romanian preserves some Latin traits lost in other Romance languages, notably the inflection of nouns. Romanian also has some characteristics common to the languages spoken in the Balkan Peninsula (most of which are not Romance languages), such as the placement of the definite article after the noun. Romanian has absorbed an unusually large number of words from the Slavic,Greek, Turkish, Hungarian, and Albanian languages.
The Romanian Studies Program at the Arizona State University offers a Romanian Minor which will enable you to take a virtual journey into the fascinating Romanian cultural space, with its breathtaking landscapes, troubled history and shocking contrasts. The course materials incorporate a variety of topics, from geography to ethnography and folk life, from customs, cuisine, architecture to jazz and contemporary art. By the end of this minor you will also become familiar with basic grammar and vocabulary, cultural landscapes, from geography to history and folk-life to gastronomy, film and music.
ASU also offers a summer program to Romania and Central Europe which takes place every summer between the months of July and August and is a four-week session at Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca, designed to give participants a comprehensive view of the rich and unique cultural history of Pre/Post-Communist Central Europe. It combines features of a traditional study abroad program and excursions, with emphasis on language, history, politics, cultural studies, and cultural geography, among other academic disciplines. The classroom work is completed by an intensive program of guided visits to museums, historical sites, and other outstanding centers of European cultural heritage and by a one week cultural trip to the capitals and important cities of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire: Budapest, Vienna, Prague and Bratislava. While visiting these capitols, one will have guided tours of four UNESCO World Heritage sites: the Buda Castle Quarter in Budapest, the Historic Center of Vienna, the Palace and Gardens of Schonbrunn, and the Historic Center of Prague.