Sunday, February 24, 2013

General Fulbright Impressions

Now, at the midpoint of my time here in Romania, I am feeling especially grateful to the Fulbright program and the support it receives from the US and Romanian governments.   A week ago we had the spring orientation and gathering where we officially met the 3 new Fulbrighters who have arrived in Romania for the next 5-6 months. I must say I am grateful that I chose to come for a full academic year.  In many respects I have only just learned enough of how to navigate both literally and figuratively in this country that now in this second term I get to relax and enjoy. At this point I am old friends with several of my American and Romanian colleagues and I cherish the time the Romanian Fulbright commission creates for us to spend time together. 
The formal orientation on Thursday was a program very similar to the one I heard in early October.  What a difference 4 months of living here has made in my perceptions as I listened to Embassy folks provide their briefings on the economics, politics, health & safety issues, etc relative to our being here.  Much of the information was received by me the first time with wide-eyed wonderment and it was difficult to process it all.  Now I am comfortable in this country and the same information had little if any emotional impact.  There were a few good reminders, however, of resources that are available to me.  I would like to investigate the Embassy library, for example.
The fun part of the gathering occurred on Friday as we traveled to Sinai for a tour of Peles palace - definitely over the top in its opulence, but I so admire the craftsmanship and artistry!  Peles was the summer palace of the monarchy.  It was returned to the royal family in the late 1990's.  We even had a royal sighting!  While we were in the lobby awaiting the start of our tour, Prince Nicholas, grandson or King Mihai (who was forced to abdicate in the 1940s), came in and was discretely pointed out by our guide.
Already I am looking forward to a return visit to see some parts of the palace in more detail. I loved the carving in the first reception room, the Venetian mirrors that provide an illusion of infinite space, the rich woodwork, and the studio on the top floor.  Here are just a few pictures:

The approach to the palace...
 The front door
 An interior door
 The view from the terrace
 a house in Sinaia
A cross on a mountaintop, viewed from the bus as we traveled a little north of Sinaia to a winery.
After visiting the palace, we loaded ourselves into the bus and went to a winery, known for its sparkling wine.  After a brief tour of the process and wine tasting opportunity, we had lunch at the restaurant.  As it was served family style, all the vegetarians were seated at one end of the long table.  We observed that one fourth of our party of Fulbright associates, Americans and Romanians, are vegetarian.  The conversation was lively, the food was good.  What more could one ask?
Sunday after these activities, David and I traveled to Brasov to see Eli and to support his wife Anne, who was opening an exhibit of her paintings.  We had enough time to wander around Brasov for a bit before the reception.  I admit I am jealous of them for living in Brasov - it is a mountain town and so has much nicer scenery than Bucharest.

 David and Eli on Europe's narrowest street
 A fortress
Detail from a door of the Black Church
 One of the gates of Brasov
 The synagogue in Brasov
 The Hollywood-type sign all lit up, in case one is so very confused to not know one's location...
A few of Anne's sketches - I love her choice of displaying these clothing sketches as hanging on the line.  Clothes drying on lines are ubiquitous in Romania - I don't know that anyone owns an electric dryer.
And the invitation Anne sent out, with one of her portraits shown.

Last week I participated in a research seminar hosted at another University: A.S.E., The Academy of Economic Studies, which has a large department in Business Administration.  I was invited to the seminar at which several doctoral students were presenting preliminary work toward their dissertations on the topic of Corporate Social Entrepreneurship.  I titled my remarks, "The Psychological Underpinnings of Corporate Social Entrepreneurship".  I believe my part was well received, I appreciated listening to the students and was able to contribute some useful feedback, and afterwards a group of faculty members took me to lunch, where we had a most enjoyable time.  This kind of connectivity is fundamental to what the Fulbright program is all about.

I am planning several activities and/or collaborations with Fulbright colleagues:
In April, there is an Appalachian-Carpathian conference.  I will participate with Eli and others (I was able to meet some of his colleagues on Sunday and we did quite a bit of talking and planning) in the conference itself and will also present a bookbinding workshop.  Some time later this spring, I will also collaborate with Karen to provide a bookbinding workshop to her students in Cluj. I received helpful information from Ilya regarding an invitation I received from some folks at SNSPA about being a journal editor.  Again I will say that I am most grateful for the connections I am making through the Fulbright program.

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