Roma Leadership Summer Camp took place in Sinaia, center Romania, from 21st till 27th of July. The event was organized by the Roma Education Fund Romania Foundation in co-operation with the Department for Interethnic Relations, the National Democratic Institute, the Centre for Education and Human Rights Association (C.E.D.O.) and Trend Consult. For one week, 40 young people – students at different faculties or future students – participated in a comprehensive leadership program, stressing topics such as personal, civic and social development, ethnocultural diversity, prevention of discrimination.
„I feel that I’ve acquired a lot of knowledge. I didn’t expect it to have such a big impact on me. Besides the activities we’ve had, I’ve liked, most of all, the people around me. Each of them with its different type of personality and with an extreme amount of affection towards those around them. There were very strong energies here, from guests and from students and future students also”– Alexandru Florin Drăgoi, student at Literature, Lingualism and Journalism Department, in Galați, Romania.
The workshops designed by Trend Consult experts like Robert Iancu, Ionel Buliga and Mihnea Taropa gave the students the opportunity to learn about current concepts such as growth mindset, self-awareness, interpersonal communication, teamwork, entrepreneurship spirit, and the possibility of deepening areas such as project management, personal branding, social responsibility, and involvement.
„For me, this experience was, and I can say this without modesty, the most beautiful experience of my life so far because I met new people, I’ve learned a lot, and I felt like in a family. This thing I liked most: that I felt like I was in a family. I’ve created connections with the people that were surrounding me, and I have also managed to develop a part of myself that I did not know I have” – Mădălin Bolozan, a future student at the Faculty of Law.
Over the week, they have met extraordinary people who have narrated their lives, emphasizing their professional successes, and disappointments, their fight with discrimination, their hard work towards succeeding their life’s goals, giving the students the possibility of identifying them as models to look up to. They had workshops with Dezideriu Gergely, a lawyer, and a trainer at the Council of Europe, they talked to Anelise Sălan, self-shooting director, after watching her documentary “DON’T DIE WHILE DREAMING”.
They met Roma actress and activist Alina Șerban, who represented Romania at Cannes Film Festival in 2018. Alina organized a workshop about self-trust, the importance of breathing in certain circumstances, about body language, she even played a short monologue from her “I declare on my own responsibility” theatrical piece. The students also talked with sociologist Ciprian Necula, activist #Aresel, about stereotypes, prejudices, Roma history, discrimination.
„Of all the guests, I liked it the most the actress Alina. She motivated me. During her speech, I got goosebumps and I felt a thrill on my spine, something I never felt before” – Maia Nicolae Gabriel, a student at the Faculty of Transportation, Bucharest.
Wednesday, the 24th of July, started with workshops about entrepreneurship, and public speaking. They met with the Mayor of Sinaia, Vlad Oprea. The day ended with the Roma singer-songwriter, dancer, and producer Connect-R, who told them about the beginning of his career and about the things that matter in his life. Connect-R started his story declaring himself proud to be in front of all those highly-educated Roma students, especially that he only succeeded to graduate a vocational highschool.
„I liked Connect-R a lot because he told us his life story. When he had our age, he used to sell newspapers. His faith in God brought him where he is now. I feel very motivated by leadership or entrepreneur spirit. These guests, who are successful people, motivate me the most. They give me the will to do things” – Eduard Ianos, a third-year student at the Faculty of Horticulture, Iasi.
On July the 25th, they learned about building their personal brand, about social responsibility, and public involvement from Trend trainers and also from our guests. Among them were Marian Panait, City Manager Sinaia town and Magor Csibi, Head of Leadership and Organisational Culture Practice at Trend.
„I liked all the camps’ activities, but I was truly inspired by two people: Robert Iancu and Magor Csibi. Especially Magor. He is a clear example that you can succeed. He became an MEP at 26. We can also achieve anything” – Ștefan Iulian Nicolae, a future student at the Faculty of Administration and Business, Bucharest.
„I liked a lot, and I mean a lot, Ciprian Necula. His speech was way better than TEDx, but I was truly inspired by Magor. He is a motivational speaker that I really needed to listen. I hope to see him next year, too” – Isabela Stănescu, a future student at the Music Faculty in Bucharest.
The Living Library program, organized by the National Democratic Institute, allowed students to talk and ask questions to Romanian politicians: Petre-Florin Manole (Social Democratic Party), Catalin Manea and Iulian Paraschiv (Roma Party), Claudia Benchescu (National Liberal Party), Camelia Crisan (Save Romania Union), Tudor Tim Ionescu (Alliance of Liberals and Democrats Party), Zoltan Novak (Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania). After lunch, the Trend Consult team prepared a new meeting with three successful entrepreneurs: Dragoș Anastasiu, owner of EuroLines company, Adrian Florea, owner of Trend, Iulian Șerban, CEO Korbit AI.
The day ended with a special workshop held by Roma rights activist Magda Matache, director of the Roma Program at Harvard FXB, and also a Harvard instructor.She published her latest book “Realizing Roma Rights” in 2017, at the University of Pennsylvania Press. The book investigates anti-Roma racism and documents a growing Roma-led political movement engaged in building a more inclusive and just Europe.
“I had the great opportunity to meet Magda Matache, a special person who opened herself before us. She made us understand that it is very important to share only well-documented information, that we are not “rumors” or “stereotypes”. We’re people with an almost painful history. Furthermore, I learned to connect and control my body. I’ve learned a lot about vulnerability, attitudes, mood and the beauty of people. And all that from my superhero…Alina Șerban” — MarimarCatană, a third-year student at the Faculty of Electric Engineering and Computer Science, Brașov.
The second-last day of camp was almost entirely dedicated to the presentation of the projects students have worked on throughout it. Divided into eight teams of five people, the participants had one theme available – “Romania in 2025 for the Roma community”. But before presenting their ideas to the jury, the students talked with another special guest, the Roma actor Sorin Sandu.
The winning team has presented a project about the development of a Center for Information and Promotion of Culture, History, and Roma Identity.
“The project started with one simple fact: we do not have cultural institutions. The only cultural center we have is in Bucharest, but it is not as developed as other minorities centers are. In this camp, I learned that I should never give up. It motivated me, even more, to do things for my minority, the Roma community”– Didei Andreea Emanuela 1st year at the Faculty of Foreign Languages, Bucharest.
The jury consisted of Costel Bercuș, C.E.D.O. President, Dr. Magda Matache and the MP Petre-Florin Manole. They also had a special workshop with the students.
“I was extremely emotional in this camp. It was a unique experience. Of all the camps I have been to, none of them made me cry like this one, and I cried like at my high school graduation. It is a great honor for me to be part of the first generation of camp beneficiaries because it’s great to know that you were the first one there when it all started. I can’t wait to come back next year. I love you all!” – Isabela Stănescu.
„Romania in 2025 for the Roma community” Project
First place– “Melek”team: Gheorghe Eduard, Buzdugan Camelia, Didei Andreea și Bolozan Mădălin.
Second Place– „Sommel” team: Coman Oana Georgiana, Trufia Manuela, Rusu Lavinia, Ene Samuel, Catană Marimar.
Third Place– „Chaventza”team: Ianus Eduard, Stănescu Lorena, Sadia Neagu, Daniela Bonciu, Rebeca Filimon.
“I have chosen Roma Leadership Summer Camp in order to grow and to learn about what should I do for my Roma community. I found out that I always have to do my best for it. And that we must never feel discriminated, but to do what is best for us, like having a good education and living as nicely as possible in society. I liked the activities, but most of all I liked the leaders who guided us. I think Robert has the first place because most of the time we’ve spent it with him” – Rusu Lavinia, a third-year student at the Music Faculty, Bucharest.
The Roma Leadership Summer Camp project is about transformation, quality education, about the future, and a young generation that needs benchmarks, specialists, models to look up to. Is about change and about the impact of those 40 Roma students in their communities.