By Dana Tudose-Tianu
The most important thing I must say, six months on from our return to Bucharest, is that the children are happy. Our children are 10 (almost 11) and 4. They were born and raised in the United States, in New York and New Jersey. As I write this article, a Romanian friend from New Jersey writes to me, on WhatsApp: “I often-times think of coming back home…our jobs stress us so much”. He tells me that another one of his friends, who is from Sibiu, is thinking about returning as well.
My friend has children as well. I am intuitively sensing he would come soon(er) if he wouldn’t think, re-think, and think again, about the future Romania can offer to his children.
Two good jobs on the East Coast of the United States offer you a comfortable and predictable life. The children, Romanian by DNA, grow up American by culture and identity. You feel you’re not “entitled” to deprive them of their American life.
Yet here we are, having come back after a decade in the States. So, how are the children doing?
My daughter, Sophie, didn’t really know how to read and write in Romanian 6 months ago. She is doing amazingly well. She goes to the Laude-Reut Educational Complex and I can’t thank her teachers enough for having made her transition totally smooth and carefree. She didn’t go through emotional distress over missing her old school and friends in New Jersey. She made friends right away. She continues to live in an English-speaking environment, with several classes at her school being taught in English. Most of her classmates speak to her in English, too. She never felt “different” or a misfit in her classroom.
She loves to sing (that’s her passion and major talent), act and write. At the school, she has voice lessons once a week and has recently started acting classes with Daniela Nane, also through her school. She has already been given several opportunities to sing publicly at various school events.
Exposing her to culture, in Bucharest, is so much more accessible than In New York. Taking her to museums, plays at the Opera Comica, shows at Teatrul de Opereta, quick trips to the mountains, attending conferences and various educational events, costs a fraction and, because I do it frequently, is creating a shift in her life that only takes place when we are consistently exposed to something.
It gives me so much happiness to know that European culture is a part of my daughter’s upbringing. Whatever she chooses to do once she finishes middle school, these few years of Romanian/European education, blended with her American upbringing, can only give her an advantage.
My son, George, goes to a public daycare down the street from where we live. Both my children had attended Montessori schools, in New York and New Jersey, through their nursery and kindergarten years. He spoke no Romanian at all six months ago (please don’t judge). He is finally speaking the funniest and sweetest Romanian tongue that makes me soooo happy to hear. It’s, literally, music to my ears. His teacher goes above and beyond curriculum and resource limitations and offers the children great learning experiences. It’s not Montessori, but my son is happy, healthy, feels loved in school, and enjoys a menu I’d love to have, too!
Their father and I are very lucky. Our kids, unknowingly, have given us the greatest gift “repat” adults with children can enjoy, because they have adapted easily and they continue to be emotionally healthy and happy children. As a result, we have no guilty thoughts that, by moving (back) to Romania, we might be depriving them of something, instead of adding value to their lives.