Assuming the weather continues to be sunny and summery (as it looks like it will be), this weekend we’re taking the filming road show to Sibiu. If you live in Sibiu or will be visiting there next weekend and want to be part of the fun, please contact me in one of the various ways and we’ll meet up!
In the meantime, we’ve been doing a ton of filming and meeting many wonderful people so I thought it’d be good to do a little summary of what this is all about, why I am investing so much time and energy into it and what I hope to accomplish. If you’ve read all 500 of the articles on this blog then you already know but for the rest of you, here is a short summary:
I first came to Romania in the year 2000 and knew almost nothing about this country. A few years later, I moved here and then learned the language, traveled all over the country from Craiova to Oradea to Botosani to Constanta, lived in big cities and a tiny village, drank tuica, went to church, stayed in people’s homes, learned to make my own cheese and butter, danced in the clubs, taught English to children, attended funerals and weddings, played with babies, befriended the elderly and heard their stories, rode trains, buses, cars and planes, gave television, newspaper and radio interviews in Romanian and generally adopted Romania and its myriad of customs, traditions, lifestyles and culture as my own.
Fast forward to April of 2010, when a Romanian soldier in Bucharest mistakenly believed I was a fellow Romanian, which sparked my awareness that I had transformed from a clueless tourist and very foreign resident into someone who actually lives here. This prompted me to quit my job and spend several months writing my book, which both summarized nearly everything I had learned in my 10-year odyssey in Romania as well as serving as my way of saying “thank you” to all of the wonderful people I had met here.
I didn’t write that book to make money but rather just to give something back. The phrase “labor of love” is a little cliched but that’s exactly what it was. I had no expectations of it doing anything beyond just serving as my gift to the world, showing and explaining Romania as I see it, which as you know from this blog, is generally positive.
As it turned out, the book sold well. In fact, it continues to sell incredibly well, to the point where it now pays my rent and utility bills. But the truly amazing thing is all of the emails, FB comments, tweets and face-to-face comments and feedback I get from the people who have read it (and this blog). Some of these people are long-time foreign residents, some are frequent visitors to this country (whether for business, missionary work or pleasure), some are wandering tourists stopping here briefly on their journeys and some are non-Romanians married to Romanians.
I think what blew me away the most though was feedback from Romanians, who hardly need a “guide” to their country, much less one in English. It has simply been amazing to hear their support for my book (and blog) and how happy it makes them to see their country being portrayed accurately and positively for perhaps the first time. And I’ve sold numerous copies of my book to Romanians living in other countries, who bought the book for their friends so they can explain and share their heritage with them.
Since I myself originally came to Romania the first time after hearing wonderful things about it from a Romanian (in the USA), it brings me incredible joy to know that the circle continues unbroken, each person passing on the “good news” so to speak of how amazing and beautiful (and yes, quite often crazy :P) Romania is.
And all of the feedback from these people has been so amazing and thought-provoking and inspiring and interesting that I just knew I had to find a way to “capture” that and share it with the rest of the world. Some of that can (and will be) done by me writing about it here but I also wanted a way to portray it other ways – and thus the idea for the film project was born.
The truth is some people don’t like to read. Still others read very infrequently. And sometimes even the greatest writer cannot share things that a single photograph can. There are millions of photographs online and certainly lots of video clips on YouTube but I wanted to tie it all into a cohesive whole.
And that, folks, IS the plan. I want to tie all of my experiences here, from the beautiful nature and landscape to the crazy adventures I’m always having (see my last post for a brief example) and all of the amazing, interesting and insightful people that are here, whether residents or visitors, and show the “big picture”. What is life like in Romania? What does this country even look like? Is there running water and electricity? What do people think? What does Romania look like? Who are the people here? What is the “story” of Romania?
Yes, it’s an ambitious project. But I’ve got the help of some amazing people, including my friend and fellow permanent foreign resident Mitch Osbourne, the indomitable Oana Termure, the missionary Rufus Whynot, the very sweet Kiki Corui, the charming Alexandru Banyai, and the young lady with an enormous heart, Eniko “Encyke”, whom I met while filming on the train, to name just a few who not only graciously gave me their time and energy when the camera was rolling but have continued to do so afterwards.
In the coming weeks, you too will get to “meet” these people and hear their stories and opinions, as well as dozens and dozens of people whom I have not listed here. I’m really quite excited about it and I think you will be too once you see it all put together.
So now you know. I write my blog as a free gift to the entire world to share my adventures, insights, experiences and knowledge about Romania and all things Romanian. I wrote my book (and stay tuned for new editions of it coming in 2012!) as a way of broadcasting that to the wider world. And coming up soon will be the film, to showcase this amazing country and all of the people living, visiting and working here to the entire planet.
What will come next? You will have to stay tuned to find out :)
See you in Sibiu!