CDT volunteers Bob Turner, from the Heritage Group, and Di McNab, from the Orchard Group, recently had the opportunity to visit Romania with local organisation the Arch Network. This was part of the FILE project ‘Festivals for Informal Learning in Europe’ , a cultural exchange program which brings together rural, communities in the EU; Scotland, Romania, Croatia and Slovenia. It is a project about sharing culture and traditions through local festivals and celebrations.
Our thanks go to Libby and all at Arch Network for this fantastic opportunity.
This from Bob:
The project was based in a school house in the hamlet of Rîmeţ (pronounced Rimetz) which sits at about 1000 metres above spectacular rural scenery that is only accessible by rough track roads.
Accommodation and food was provided by those employed as school cooks during the holiday period. By eating together, with an international group, we were able to exchange experiences and ideas in a relaxed setting.
Rîmeţ is in a wonderful natural setting, surrounded by prolific flower meadows that are unspoiled by any chemical fertilisers. There is a fantastic matrix of wild plants that attract a wide variety of butterflies and insects which it turn allows birdlife to flourish there. There are some simple tracks and paths that thread their way through the landscape and would provide some potential for Eco tourism ( eg walking or bird watching holidays), if the local community had the capacity to support that by providing the necessary accommodation, food and transport links.
A rich historical inheritance – the vernacular architecture of the area has developed organically to meet the needs of the people living there and animal husbandry. Steep sided thatched roofs keep out rain whilst meat can be smoked in the eaves and storage is in the cellars.
A visit to the ethnographic museum for the Rîmeţ area was an opportunity to see at first hand some of the traditional farming implements and craft methods. In particular, we saw some beautifully embroidered women’s clothing with traditional patterns that are no longer made.
We discovered that although some of these products were collected for the local museum, many others had been bought cheaply by outsiders or even given away to them. This seems not only a loss to the local community but also to the broader preservation of an ancient European tradition of craft production. Other ways of preserving this cultural heritage (eg in the ASTRA national folk museum, near Sibiu) would remove these materials form their original cultural setting.
We found that by approaching Romanian people with an open heart and an open mind that was willing to learn, we were greeted with an open door of genuine hospitality and a willingness to share the obvious pride and enthusiasm they feel for their cultural heritage.
This was particularly the case on the Festival Day when I learnt a lot about the significance of the costume, music and dance in their lives.
Bob Turner – Comrie, Scotland