Our official Fulbright orientation spanned two days last week. On Thursday morning, we met at the commission and had four sessions to acquaint us with key personnel and make us aware of information and issues that will have practical impact on our daily lives here in Romania. Although most of these sessions consisted of panel presentations, we were encouraged to ask questions. The most lively discussion came in the afternoon, when we discovered our reality here as professors could be so different from back in the U.S., e.g., students do not buy textbooks and may not attend class regularly. For me, the best outcome of these sessions was putting faces with names and learning that many of my colleagues are dealing with issues comparable or even more challenging than mine.
That evening, we were treated to a delicious buffet of traditional Romanian cuisine at a beautiful restaurant near Piata Romana. I met many Romanian Fulbright alums, including one in theatre, who claims to be the only Romanian director with expertise in American-style musical theatre. Another alum invited me to speak at one of her business classes.
On our second day, we took a nine-hour field trip today north to Sinaia in the Carpathian Mountains. There are two castles there built by King Carol I in the late 1800s: the larger Peleș Castles is majestic and formal, while the smaller, adjacent Pelişor (pictured) is more intimate and family-oriented. This was a great end to our Fulbright orientation. I am honored to be in such good company and to have such gracious hosts.