I now present to you the second interview in the “Chum Chat” series! A friend of mine named Madison Price is currently in Romania, and I think what she is doing out there is pretty amazing. Just read the following interview to see for yourself.
JOAQUIN: So Madison, what made you decide to go to Romania?
MADISON: Well, even before I knew what major I wanted to go into, I knew I wanted to be an adoption social worker when I was older. So when I heard about an opportunity to work in a placement center in Romania, I thought it would look good on a resume, and give me experience!
J: So how did you hear about this opportunity?
M: I had spoken to my sister's friend Shannon about wanting to work at Heritage School here in Utah. She didn't think I was quite mature enough to be able to uh… emotionally deal with such a rough set of kids. Haha. Something about me looking too innocent and the kids not taking me seriously. Anyway, she told me about the Romanian internship, which she had been on before, and said that it would be a good growing experience for me that would help get me ready. Besides, my major has a required internship credit... so I
figured I would kill a few birds with one stone.
J: Sounds perfect!
M: Plus I LOVE traveling! Different cultures make me so happy! I just get bored with Americans!
J: Ha ha. Who doesn’t? Americans are so lame. So I’m guessing this internship is with Brigham Young University… was it difficult to get into?
M: Shannon just pointed me in the right direction and then I went to different meetings and interviews! It was kind of scary.
J: Okay, so now you are in Romania getting school credit and everything… so what are you doing?
M: Well, right now I'm sitting on my bed in my pajamas after being on a train for over twelve hours... haha!
J: You are such a brat. I don’t mean right this minute, I mean…
M: I know what you meant! Let’s see, there are five of us here right now—one of the smallest groups they've ever had. I think that's because it's winter and cold... Who in their right mind wants to go to Romania during the winter? This crazy girl! That's who! Sorry, I'm getting off topic!
J: A little…
M: What we do here… Right... Well, in the morning we go and work at the Special Needs Placement Center. Basically it's an orphanage for mentally and physically handicapped children. We spend the morning playing with the kids, trying to do, like... long term positive learning activities... or... how to explain? For kids that can't talk, you speak simple Romanian words and try to get them to say babbling words. For kids that can't walk and just lay in a wheelchair or in a bed, I play with them on a mat and try to stretch out their arms and legs while giving them a massage.... It's to help keep their muscles from freezing, and to give them more mobility... oh, I'm not explaining this well... We just try to stimulate the kids and help them develop.
J: I think you’re explaining things just fine! So do you work alongside the Romanian workers?
M: Yeah. The workers are really awesome and really love the kids, but they are really busy with mundane everyday things, like making sure everyone is dressed, making sure the room is clean, getting the kids to masa on time…
J: What’s masa?
M: Sorry, masa is what they call snack and meal times here. Anyways, they are really busy and have a hard time giving each of the kids individual love time, so we come to play with the kids, help them learn skills, and give their little brains something to do.
J: So you just play with babies all day?
M: We also head over to the hospital! We try to get to every floor and ask the nurses “Aveţi copii fără mama?” which means, ”Do you have children without mothers?” Then we are taken to any sick children who don't have parents, and we spend about a half an hour with them, playing games, reading...
J: Like I said, playing with babies all day!
M: We change a LOT of diapers and rock the babies to sleep.
J: Okay so the diaper part doesn’t sound too fun... yuck! So how long have you been out for already? I can’t believe you are in Romania. How much longer do you have left?
M: Um.. I think I've been here for just over a month right now... and I stay until the middle of April. So in total three months and one week. I think. I suck at math.
J: Me too. Math is dumb. So where are you living exactly?
M: We are living in this cool city called Laşi! It's one of the biggest cities in Romania... or the biggest, can't quite remember... And there are these big apartment buildings everywhere that we call “The Blocks” because they are so blocky... haha. But they were originally built during communism, because the guy in charge then wanted his people to live in cities so he had them thrown up all over the place. They're pretty small, and ours smells a little like mold in the one bathroom all the time. It's gross, but they are fairly nice! A lot nicer then I was expecting honestly.
J: That’s good. So did you have to pay for this trip yourself?
M: I'm actually REALLY lucky! My parents did this really awesome thing. As soon as they knew they were pregnant with me they started saving money for my college fund every month! So I actually don't have to worry about money while I'm here.
J: Must be nice… I hate worrying about money. So it seems like you are enjoying it.
M: I really am. I mean, sometimes it's really really hard. I miss my family and friends a lot. And milk… Oh my word, I miss milk!
J: They don’t have milk?
M: They have milk here, but it's in boxes and sits on shelves. There are so many preservatives in it that they can sit on shelves for several months without going bad... and they taste really funny. All I crave these days is a nice, tall glass of cold skim milk!
J: Ha ha. They had milk like that in Chile, too. Where I served my mission.
M: It's also really emotionally exhausting. You get really very attached to the kids you work with, and it makes you so sad when you remember that they don't have a mom or dad... you just want to adopt them yourself... but it's against the law for anyone to adopt from Romania right now, so even if I was old enough and was financially able to, I still couldn't adopt any of these kids.
J: Wow. I had no idea adoption was illegal. Those poor little orphans! But are you glad you did it?
M: It's not actually that it's illegal to adopt in Romania... it's that it's illegal for OTHER countries to adopt from Romania. And yes, I'm glad I did it. Besides the occasional sad thought, it's fantastic here! How can you not love it? One of my kids at the Placement Center, who is almost 13 and can't talk, started making babbling noises at me the other day! I almost screamed from excitement! And a lot of the kids just want to be loved, so you always get lots of hugs from them. I love hugs! Cuddle time is the best! And at the hospital, there was one little child we have been seeing. A burn victim, so they've been in a bed the whole time, but the other day we saw them walking around the hospital! It put the biggest smile on my face when they ran over to give us a hug. Even just that makes it all worth it!