Oana is the center’s educator, a wonderful person who is behind the educational activities. She is there for every sad or happy thought of the children, always acting with a lot of affection, the secret that successfully led her to reach the 11 years of pedagogical career.
Oana is responsible for the educational component of the project “vulnerABILITY: from challenges to opportunities” and below you will find a short interview about her activity.
1. What is your activity within the project?
My role is to value students, to made them be independent, creative and from here all problems can be solved. If they are creative they find solutions, if they are independent they can manage on their own, if they are tolerant and empathetic they will be able to work in a team.
In this project, I aim to meet and prevent the difficulties faced by disadvantaged minors in their educational path.
My objectives are to improve socio-educational services, to promote intercultural dialogue and Roma culture in the local community of Panciu.
2. How long have you been working in education? How did you find out that it suits you?
I have been working as a teacher for 10 years, this is my 11th year. I worked as a teacher in my first year of college. I graduated from a specialized high school, from theology and from the faculty in the same field. But since I did my practice in high school, I had a very strong connection with kids, I really liked the idea of being a teacher. At the first meeting with them, I said, “That’s my job.” Then I was interested in seeing how I could enroll in the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, to be with all the documents in order.
I joined Lumea lui Pinocchio last year. And for me it was a challenge at the beginning, because these children, knowing them better, are special…. because they come from disadvantaged backgrounds, they need more knowledge, support, but especially affection, emotional support. And at first when I came, they were scared… the first thing I did was to hug them, I noticed that this was what they needed: affection. Society, unfortunately, has disadvantaged them, they lose their trust very easily.
Last year, we decided to go to Valea Brazi one day where most of them live. When I saw their situation … the conditions in which they live… very precarious… this saddened me but at the same time I said that we have to do something, we have to make them happy, because they need it. They were very excited to see us. They always asked us: When do we start? When do we start? (The center was closed then because it was the pandemic lockdown). For them everything matters, with a candy you can make their day more beautiful and the center for them is a blessing, because here they have a warm meal, they do their homework, they receive good advice. They need to be with them, they really need to be their friend. In addition to helping them with homework, we are there to support them emotionally… they need to talk to someone, to listen to them, to tell them that you care about them and that you take them with all their problems.
3. How would you describe the children? What do they have special or what lessons do you learn from them?
Most of all, I took innocence and treated things as calmly as possible, made things as natural as possible and always had a smile on my face, because any situation has a solution. I had a child who always said to me: Don’t worry, don’t worry, we’re moving on. And I have this motto know.
4. We all know how challenging children can be, how do you manage to keep calm, balance, between them but also between you and them?
I remember, around 2018, I had a small group and in this group I had a very active little girl, she gets under the table, throws toys, did not want to participate in activities and I said to myself: God, how do I change this behavior ? And I realized that she needed affection, attention, and I thought, okay, I’ll spend more time with her. And then the little girl said to me: teacher, but I like kindergarten, I’ll come again. I complimented her, I gave her important roles, to be my help, to gather the toys and from a very agitated little girl she became a very good, happy little girl.
It is very important to be with them and trust them.
In fact, parents are very important in their children’s lives. I often ask them: at home, how does he/she behave, what does he/she do? Even if the parents are more reserved at first and find it difficult to accept negative things, they open up along the way and this helps to resolve the situation.
5. What does a day at the Pinocchio Center look like? How do you plan your activities?
Together with the volunteers from the center, we decide every morning how we will approach the activities with the children.
Children spend 4 hours at the Center from 12:00 to 16:00. When they get to the centre from school, they do the daily routine, hygiene, and have lunch. From 12:00 to 13:00 we have nonformal activities. We play energizing games, outside or in class, if the weather is bad.
After homework children have the nonformal activities. We have days with different topics, a day for science, a day with practical activities and others where we play various games: logical, creative, dynamic, didactic.
The centre’s recipe is love. This is how we start our day: first we hug and then we start the activities.
Our team is wonderful, any activity we do together. We ask ourselves: is that okay? We work together, we advise, everything we do, we do for children.
6. Do you see yourself doing the same thing in the future?
Yes, I am the most accomplished in this field, I would not see myself doing anything else. It’s best for me among children, or as I call them angels.
The project is implemented by Lumea lui Pinocchio Association and benefits from a 50.000 euros grant from Active Citizens Fund Romania, programme funded by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the EEA Grants Grants 2014 -2021. The content of this material does not necessarily reflect the official position of the EEA and Norway Grants 2014-2021; for more information visit www.eeagrants.org. More details about Active Citizens Fund Romania are available at www.activecitizensfund.ro.