History of the Peace Corps in Romania
After the 1989 revolution in Romania (cynically referred to as "the events of December 1989" by some Romanians), U.S. economic assistance to the country focused on aiding Romanian street children and children who had been institutionalized during the Nicolae Ceausescu regime. Peace Corps programming began in 1991, when 18 trainees arrived to initiate an orphanage project. Peace Corps/Romania now has four program sectors: community economic development; environmental management and education; institutional development; and teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL).
History and Future of Peace Corps Programming in Romania
In the community economic development sector, Volunteers work with their Romanian partners to help communities participate successfully in the global economy and upgrade their standard of living. Romania’s accession into the European Union in January 2007 requires attention to improving infrastructure and raising the standard of living in industrial towns and rural villages. Projects work with city halls, municipal and county councils, local development agencies, business support organizations, high schools, and universities. This sector includes farm management and agribusiness, and urban (town) planning, as well as small and medium enterprise development. In the environmental management and education sector, Volunteers work with community and regional environmental organizations, schools, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in a long-term effort to introduce new or expand current environmental education programs for students and adults. They also assist in increasing the public’s awareness of and involvement in addressing local environmental problems and in facilitating cooperation among local and national NGOs, local government officials, and communities.
In the institutional development sector, Volunteers work to improve the quality and impact of services for at-risk youth and other marginalized populations by strengthening local government agencies and NGOs that provide social services. Volunteers work in the areas of ethnic integration and youth development, and with a variety of organizations focused on HIV-positive children, the mentally ill, people with physical disabilities, orphaned or abandoned children, and the elderly. Some Volunteers, who are certified special education providers, work directly with the beneficiaries of these organizations. Because of the increasing demand for qualified English teachers, the Peace Corps, along with Romania’s Ministry of Education and Research, developed an English program for secondary schools. In the TEFL sector, Volunteers focus on improving students’ communication skills and on developing better English language teaching materials. Some TEFL Volunteers also teach advanced subjects, such as critical thinking skills. Many Volunteers are also active in a variety of secondary projects that they initiate in their communities.