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May 2011

Voices of the World Romania - Reports   (published in Romania)

May 31, 2011 by   Comments(1)

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Hello again everyone,

The following texts talk about the workshops within the Voices of the World Project that we have every Friday afternoon together with our Journalism Volunteers and Romanian students. The following statements reflect summaries that our journalism volunteers wrote on their journalism workshops. They are written by Tash Potter, Li Min Teng and Michiel Bellon. We hope you enjoy reading them and keep yourselves updated to what has been happening during April and May with the group of Journalists.

Friday, 8th of April

Interesting Fact: Reading a newspaper has a lower impact on global warming than reading the news online for 30 seconds.


The request of orchestrating a workshop for a group of Romanian students in journalism was initially quite a daunting task. Often thinking back on what you have learnt over your student days provides so much that only a blank canvas lies forth within your mind. Knowing little about Romanian media, I decided to focus on worldly news as their workshop topic. To begin the students and I had an informal discussion on news and how it has changed from the past to become the technologically drenched topic it exists as today. We discussed why newspapers are dwindling in popularity and how social media is taking over, in forms of the ever popular Facebook and Twitter. We debated the notion as to whether this was a modern and progressive move in our society, or a dangerous one; allowing free opinion and bias to flow into everyday truth in news events. As an exercise the students formed groups and were given large pieces of paper to create their own newspaper, creating an attracting name for the newspaper and two headlines for their news cover accompanied by pictures. To create their papers they had to follow some headline guidelines to target an audience, appeal to their attention and capture their focus. Both groups were very creative and their final products were assessed highly among their group members.

Friday, 22nd of April

The meeting started with an interview. Tash Potter interviewed Projects Abroad’s drama, dance and journalism supervisor Alexandra Ichim on the dancing career to which she dedicates her life. By observing, the participants could learn how a proper interview is conducted. They had the opportunity to ask questions of their own as well. During the second half of the meeting I gave an improvised workshop on the importance of being critical and the use of argumentation in journalism. This was quite a thrilling experience for me, because for the first time I discovered how the skills I had mastered throughout my philosophy studies could be put to use in a practical way. First, we discussed the difference between visual and written media with regard to critical thought. We argued that written media are more suitable for a critical approach than visual media. Written journalism gives both the author and the audience the opportunity to think the arguments through and to evaluate them at an own chosen speed, whereas the fast pace of visual journalism doesn’t. Next, I explained how a good argumentative article is to be written. I highlighted, among other things, the importance of attention grabbers at the beginning of the article, the significance of a clear and well thought out structure and the difference between valid and invalid forms of argumentation. Finally, I gave some general tips on improving the critical writing process. Although time was lacking to do a practical exercise, all the participants agreed that the meeting had been an instructive experience. 

Friday, 30th of May

In the workshop held this week the Projects Abroad volunteers and the students spent the afternoon focusing on editing and proof reading of their final articles. Editing is essential in journalism, and is a process which must be repeated multiple times to ensure the final document is perfect. Significantly, for Criss and I editing was a longer task and required more attention. Bianca and Li had written their article together and therefore needed less time to fine tune their article on the orphanage. The article written by Criss and I focused on dancing in Romania. Because it was structured in two parts, following the interview of a salsa dancer and a ballroom dancer, it needed to be organised into different parts that still flowed together. After the final edit on grammar and punctuation, we organised the two parts under different subheadings, yet with a common title. This ensured that the pieces could be understood as articles under the same topic yet with different opinions and experiences. Finally it was important to edit again to change the American automatic spelling function of Microsoft Word to change the text into British English. All these steps were crucial to the final article and its projection to the reader.

Friday, 8th of May

'For this week’s journalism workshop, we discussed the different angles we could come up to write on Osama Bin Laden’s death. Mircea had assigned us this topic, which is huge recent news that shocked the world. Being a good journalist, it is important to be well informed and on top of big news circulating the world. Osama’s death had been hitting headlines everywhere after he was shot in Pakistan. After our discussion, we divided ourselves into groups. Michiel and Criss decided to touch base on the political side. They discussed their topics and were on Michiel’s laptop doing research on what they were going to write about. Me, Tash, Bianca and Denisa adjourned to the 2 computers to do research on Osama’s history and read up on recent news about his death. As journalist, it is important to possess researching skills, as a good article should be written truthfully that covers all sides to a story. Tash and Bianca refreshed themselves on the September 11 attacks and current news on his death. Denisa and me did some research on Osama’s history and Al-Qaeda.

After a good solid half an hour of research, we gathered together to brainstorm for interview questions that were to be conducted next week. We concurred to interview the younger demographic on their views and knowledge about anything related to Osama and consequences of his death. We took time conferring different types of questions; generic to specific that would be informative for our article'

Friday, 20th of May

'This week’s workshop was a sequence from last week’s where we researched, came up with interview questions and discussed angles to write up on Osama Bin Laden’s death. The structure of today’s workshop was to divide ourselves into 2 groups and head out to interview people on Osama Bin Laden’s death. Criss and I headed to a nearby park where teenagers usually hang around whilst Tash, Bianca and Denisa went across the street. We decided to split into groups to cover more grounds in terms of interviewing, as well as expanding our dynamics. Since Tash and I couldn’t speak Romanian, we were the secretary of this expedition while the girls played the role of an interviewer and translator. The girls found it a little difficult translating from Romanian to English as they felt as if the true meaning of their subject’s answers were either diluted or lost in translation. However, they tried their best to include every single detail possible into their translation. In the midst of our interviews, we decided to not only interview the young people, but also beseech the views of the older generation. In doing that, we had more information and contrasting views that could consolidate our article in a more wholly manner. After an hour conducting interviews, we met up to compare notes.'

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Voices of the World Romania - Reports
Voices of the World Romania - Reports

Projects Abroad Romania Volunteers participating in the Living Library by Alexandra Ichim (Social Manager; Journalism, Drama and Dance Supervisor)   (published in Romania)

May 31, 2011 by   Comments(0)

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Hello everyone,


I just wanted to keep you updated to the events that happened in Romania during the latter couple of weeks. One of these events was the Living Library in which three of our volunteers participated. Muneeza Mirza from Australia, Ariana Urmston from the United States of America and Michiel Bellon from Belgium were the three volunteers who participated in the Living Library. This is a new project that one of our collaborators, Scut Association, has been organising during the past year. The project has the purpose to get people's attention on the acceptance of diversity among nations and cultures. It wishes to emphasize the acceptance of diversity because, most of the times the differences among people are not taken as being resources, but they lead to creating stereotypes and prejudicies among cultures and nationalities. Due to these differences, people tend to create discriminatory statements, to be suspicious when it comes to certain nations or even to exclude some of the people from their circles of friends.


This edition of the Living Library focused mainly on presenting different nationalities and their qualities, descriptions and typical features as a whole. The specific point in this project is that the books that we can borrow are alive. Our volunteers participated in this project, being their own nationalities, meaning Australian, Americand and Belgian. The local community went to the Local Library and borrowed 'these books' for 30 minutes, while they were allowed to ask any questions regarding their nationalities, culture, typical traditions and many personal details that could offer them a better persective on what their nationalities are like.


Our voluunteers. Muneeza, Ariana and Michiel were ones of the most read books in the living library and they had a great time talking about themselves as the nationalities I mentioned above. The project gave them as well as different persective on what people from othr cultures can think of their country or people. Furthermore, they were able to explain their real feelings and features, making all stereotypes be fake or mistaken. They were able to explain exactly the way teenagers in America, Australia, Belgium think, study, work, socialise and do all the other daily activities. It was a unique experience for them and also for the people who 'read' them. They also got the chance to befriend with Romanians and continue their discussions even after the Living Library ended.


Projects Abroad Volunteers were always interested in participating in this project and this time they really achieved more than just 'helping the community', they succeded in making their nations knows in their real sense. We want to thank them again for accepting the participation in this project and we can wait others to be involved as well in the near future.

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Projects Abroad Romania Volunteers participating in the Living Library by Alexandra Ichim (Social Manager; Journalism, Drama and Dance Supervisor)
Projects Abroad Romania Volunteers participating in the Living Library by Alexandra Ichim (Social Manager; Journalism, Drama and Dance Supervisor)

Animal Care in Romania   (published in Romania)

May 3, 2011 by   Comments(0)

Romania: Volunteer Animal Care Work-Experience Placements

The Animal Care Project in Romania is based primarily at the world’s largest bear sanctuary close to the Carpathian Mountains, on the outskirts of Brasov. This voluntary Animal Care placement is suitable for people who are passionate about the protection of animals and for those who enjoy the outdoors.

Volunteers on the animal care project will also spend some time working at a local zoo and a rescue dog shelter. These placements are all suitable for gap year students, university students and those taking a career break.

This Animal Care project is aimed at volunteers who are ready for an adventure and will get stuck in with what ever tasks are needed! A weekly timetable is always put in place so you are aware of what your role will be for the following week. Volunteers will experience the contrasts between working in a natural sanctuary and in a zoo environment.  

Romania is home to Europe’s largest population of brown bears. In Romania, many bears are sadly still kept to entertain tourists. The bears often receive a poor diet and not enough water; they are kept in cramped cages and in poor conditions, with little protection from the bitter cold in the Romanian winter. In 2006 the bear sanctuary near Brasov was established, providing a purpose built home for rescued bears.

The sanctuary accommodates almost 30 bears in over 70 hectares of forest. The sanctuary is increasing in size each year, as more bears are rescued and the number of bears is expected to increase to about 50 within the next year.

Volunteering on an Animal Care Placement in Romania with Projects Abroad

Volunteers will usually divide their time between the bear sanctuary, local zoo and a dog shelter. It is also possible to spend extra time at the bear sanctuary at the weekends. At the zoo volunteers work with bears as well as other wild animals. At the dog shelter volunteers help with all aspects of the dogs’ care.

At the Bear Sanctuary volunteers help to prepare and provide food for the bears, and feed them. Vaccinations and disinfestations also occasionally take place, which you can observe. You can also help with activities such as the maintenance of fences in the forest, digging foundations for new facilities, and generally helping with the conservation of the forest by planting trees and shrubs.

When the bears are first rescued they are transported to the sanctuary where they have an initial medical check at a health centre. Once they are sufficiently recovered, they are gradually introduced to forested enclosures where they quickly revert back to instinctive behaviour. Before arriving at the sanctuary these bears knew little of life outside a cage, whereas at the sanctuary they have pools to splash and swim in, food for foraging and places where they can make dens.

Although the Romanian law protects bears from abusive and poor conditions, as there was previously no place for authorities to house rescued bears, this law could not be enforced. The primary aim of the sanctuary is therefore to help eradicate the cruel exploitation of bears in Romania, by empowering the Government to enforce the law. The sanctuary also aims to develop a rehabilitation and release programme for cubs brought to the sanctuary, enabling them to return to the wild.

All volunteers stay with a local host family in Brasov and will get local transport to work each day. This project is only available from March to November, due to the bears hibernating in the winter months.

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Animal Care in Romania
Animal Care in Romania