One World (Autumn 2006)

Multicultural Festivals

Cultural Crossroads was a major participant in four multicultural festivals across the metropolitan area. At Grinter House AppleFest, the KCK Lewis & Clark Festival, Independence Heritage Festival, and Southland Multicultural Festival, our volunteers provided multicultural and historical information through dialogue and hands-on activities to over 200 children and adults. Thank you to our great volunteers and sponsors!

We are excited about this new feature of One World…an invitation to young people to share their cultural experiences. Our first volunteer correspondent is Cristina Bratu, from Arad, Romania. Cristina studies Math and Science and enjoys travel.

Cristina Bratu: Arad, Romania 

Dear readers of One World,

My name is Cristina Bratu and I am from Romania. I have been recently accepted as a volunteer for Cultural Crossroads and I must say I am very excited. I am 17 and I will be a high-school senior the year that follows.

As this organization’s aim is to bring together people belonging to cultures worldwide, I figured I could talk to you about Romanian youth and the way they study, as I find myself part of it. A main characteristic among teenagers in my country is the fact that most are overly ambitious, with high standards and willing to make a difference.

After kindergarten, which, I believe, is the same as everywhere, we have what it’s called primary school. Throughout four years, children learn to write, to read, the basics of arithmetic and a foreign language (English or French). Starting from fifth grade, they go to secondary school, where they start to expand their knowledge on subjects like Math, Romanian (grammar and literature), Geography, History, Biology, another foreign language and many others (and trust me, there are many!). The major difference between the school system and, let’s say, the American one, is the fact that we do not get to choose what to study. We have (and that goes for high-school, too) around 15-16 subjects we have to take. We spend around six or seven hours in school and we begin classes at 8:00 am.

In order to get to high-school, students must take an exam called ‘Capacitate’ (a rough translation would be ‘ability’). This exam consists of three exams, actually, one in Romanian, one in Math and another one in either Geography or History. For students who wish to study a foreign language in depth in high-school (i.e., 4 or more classes of that language a week), they also take another exam, but this usually takes place after the ‘Capacitate’.

After this exam, you apply at more high-schools, and, depending on your average, you get into a better high-school or not. In Romania, high-schools have different specialties. For example, there are arts schools, sports schools or simply theoretical schools (that is, you do not have to have a special talent to get into these). Another difference from the American system is that we generally have the same teachers during all four years of high-school. I, for example, study mostly Math and Science, I.T., so we study Math, Chemistry, Biology, Physics every year. The only difference from year to year is that the number of classes per week change.

This kind of system, where you do not get to choose your classes (only decide whether you are inclined to Math or Literature) gets annoying, especially in high-school, when you start glimpsing your future…and, you do need a high GPA to get into college, so you need good grades in all subjects, even in those you find pretty much useless.

Students are graded here from 1 to 10, 10 being the highest. 5 is considered a pass grade. And 1 is usually given for cheating.

At the end of high-school, every student must take an exam called ‘Bacalaureat’ which consists of 6 exams, 2 oral ones- one in Romanian and one in a foreign language you studied- and 4 written onesone in Romanian and the others depend on what your studies were more inclined to. For example, I will have to take Math, but I get to choose between Physics, Chemistry and Biology and I also have to take another subject – such as Geography, History or any other subject not linked to Math and Sciences. The passing grade for this exam is 6, but of course you need high grades in order to get into a decent university.

That is pretty much it about the school system up until high-school. I do not have enough information about how things in university work, so unfortunately I cannot tell you anything about that, but I hope I managed to give you at least an overview of how teenagers study for 12 years in our country.

There is always room for improvement, so let’s hope that in a few years, a future volunteer at Cultural Crossroads will give a whole different and better picture of the Romanian school system.

-Cristina Bratu Arad, Romania

HIGHLIGHTS FROM CULTURAL CROSSROADS PROGRAMS IN 2006

A spring fashion show in Johnson County highlighted authentic costumes from around the world and introduced young girls to some different “fashion” ideas. Two young artists proudly show off their ► handiwork at Cultural Crossroads’s craft booth at Grinter House Apple Fest in Kansas City, KS Several of the costumes were donated to Cultural Crossroads by Ten Thousand Villages and others were from personal collections. ◄ For the second year, Cultural Crossroads taught dances and stories from many cultures at Welborn Elementary School’s annual Multicultural Day. . ◄ The Cultural Crossroads booth at the September Independence Heritage Festival displayed items from around the world. Volunteers from Cultural Crossroads acted as “cultural ambassadors” at the September event.

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