1996 was the year when I had the chance to go for the first time in the USA, with the help of the Soros Foundation.
It was a time when many questions were in my mind and I found many of the answers to them in my unique visit to the US. During that visit, I started to open my eyes wider and sharpened my ears to learn more about the new education models I encountered here.
Everything seemed to be wonderful. I had the chance to go and learn from the Montessori system and to visit exceptional schools. The difference was so big!
I did the first step towards discovering the American educational system and dared to dream big.
I really wanted to bring everithing home. From studying materials to knowledge and people who could help us. I wanted everything to happen overnight.
In October 2016, after exactly 20 years, although I had been often to the USA, my return had a deeper meaning.
I had returned to speak to people about the education that we do in Romania and discuss current trends in education. It was the first time I had the chance to meet the Romanian community, knowing Romanians with a big heart and willingness to listen to our story.
Ruxandra Mercea, as CEO of Transylvania College School, and myself, as president of the Transylvania College Foundation, were invited there by the Transylvania Education Foundation, an U.S. based 501 C3 organization dedicated to transforming education in Romania.
In addition to participating to the Foundation’s annual meeting, we had a series of meetings in Washington DC, Bay Area, Silicon Valley, and Los Angeles to present our innovative programs for fundraising purposes and to borrow ideas that can be implemented in the Romanian public education system.
This year in the U.S.A. I had more meetings and audiences than I had hoped with exceptional people. I was more than happy to see them showing their interest in discovering more about how an innovative approach of education, like Transylvania College has, could provide a model for the rest of Romania.
I shared what I learned running Transylvania College over the past 23 years while we try to prepare children for the transition between the communist period and the democratic society, always looking to try out new educational models with a student-centered approach that can create a secure enviroment, where each child is treated with respect and can develop self confidence.
“Transylvania College – Romania Comes to You” was an event organized at the Romanian Embassy in Washington DC, due to the grace of His Excellency, Ambassador George Maior.
On October 18th, at the event, I met a lot of people I want to personally thank for joining us at the Embassy of Romania to learn more about Transylvania College and for sharing their ideas and support, which were heart-warming and inspirational.
My journey continued with a visit to Indian Creek School. Over this summer, Grace, Caroline and Tory Walworth from Indian Creek School coordinated and ran a two-week American leadership camp in Romania. This was a part of our partnership with the Walworth family, one we hope to continue building on.
We researched American school programs, particularly those related to STEM and learned more about the STEM program at Indian Creek School. We talked with students and teachers interested in learning about Romania and presented the work we do at our school to innovate education.
I continued my travel to Bay Area, San Francisco, where I had four major meetings helping me learn more about how education should look like and how we can help our system. Meeting Becky Lee, a member of Design for Learning Team at IDEO office, Tracy Trowbridge (Adobe Education Program), and visiting the Google headquarters and the Palo Alto High School were the highlights of my trip towards its end.
At Palo Alto High School’s hub for student publications I met Esther Wojcicki, a living legend, and professor Radu Toma, a Romanian whom we are proud of, and discussed about future possible collaborations
About those stories, I would like to write more and share with you.
Thanks to George Roth and Dana Beldiman, in Silicon Valley, Transylvania College was presented at an event at the Elks Club, where we had some really interesting people in the audience and I was more than happy to find how engaged to our cause they were.
During An Afternoon With Simona Baciu, Founder – Transylvania College event at the Consulate General of Romania in Los Angeles, thanks to Simona Steriu, Consul for Economic Affairs and Trade, I had the opportunity speak more about how the school is working to share its model with others in Romania.
At the end of my story, I want to tell you how heartening it was for me to see so many supporters of Transylvania College during my trip across America. Their interest in how an innovative approach to education could provide a model for the rest of Romania proved to me once more that our work is valuable.