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Natalia Iuras and her impressions from Washington, DC

May, 10 2014

Professionally my week has been reach in meetings, discussions and presentations. I even have had an opportunity to participate in the Naturalization Ceremony at the US District Court for the DC. Nonetheless, today I would rather write about poignant and everlasting love. Two events of this week in Washington made me think about it: Mother’s day and the presentation of the book “To the End of the Land” written by David Grossman

Mother’s Day was new to me. Although it is an international day, I haven’t gotten any facts about it before. It is celebrated on the second Sunday of May. Traditionally, most of colleagues have their final celebration on Mother’s Day. Ashley, one of my colleagues, said it was carefully chosen to maximize the tears on graduation day. Thereafter, graduates usually take their parents out to dinner in recognition of the time, money and soul invested into their education.

It is also very common for Americans to take their moms out for brunch, shopping, cruises, pampering, and shows or simply spend time with them talking. It was such a pleasure to have noticed one mom-sun pair in the restaurant on the Mother’s Day talking and laughing about something. Everyone could see that mom eradiating of happiness and proud for her son.

In a big multiethnic country like the US or in a small and culturally diverse country as Moldova, I have remarked that a simple notion as a mother loses all geographical boundaries or controversy of the current times. Women in Moldova, Israel or the US, of different generation, each with its own destiny and history, have something in common. They all live and raise their children and grandchildren in these countries, calling them homeland. At the same time, these women remember their roots and pass their traditions to younger generations. Every mother or grandmother on earth wishes for their children a peaceful home with respect for cultural diversity.

Also, together with my host mother and her friend, I have participated in the Author Out Loud event featuring David Grossamn. He talked about his book “To the End of the Land” and the main character Ora, a middle-aged woman, the mother of two sons. It is a novel that traces Ora’s thoughts and reveals the traumas of her consciousness from losing her son. The story has become even more powerful because the author was speaking from his own experience of losing his 20-year-old son, a staff sergeant in an armored unit, who was killed during an IDF operation in southern Lebanon. Listening him made me realize that, in our day-to-day routines, we should not forget to treasure every moment with family members and friends who are important to us and not take them as granted.

 

Discovering Maureen - reinventing volunteering

During my first weeks in the U.S, I was looking for volunteering within the Washington DC, when Dean, my host father, asked me to participate as a volunteer together with Maureen in an event organized by their local community church for people with Down syndrome. I was supposed to help them setting up a dance floor for disabled kids.

Although I was ready to help with all available recourses, I was not allowed to interact with kids because we had not been trained properly before the event. Despite that fact, I had a wonderful opportunity to observe how dancing influence the lives of not only children with disabilities who participate in the events but also the lives of the teachers and parents who support these children.

Maureen got sad when she realized I could not be part of the event, as we both were looking for it. Even so, she returned home happy because she made new friends and gained tons of positive impressions. I realized that dancing is an excellent tool for getting children with special need break down social barriers, improve self-confidence, communicate and cooperate, and accept others even if they are different.

Before meeting my lovely host family members I have not had any interactions with people with Down syndrome. The PFP program offered me a great joy to discover Maureen, a 21 year old with a Down syndrome. Soon she will have to move to a separate apartment and look to become independent. The preparation for this major life change is a thorough process for every member of the family. Maureen is very lucky because the state of Maryland offers an excellent program for integration of people with different level of disability. They have equipment to help them live, work and learn more independently, provide trainings and orientation sessions for searching a job, offer assistance in buying a house.

Maureen and I have created a lovely and special relationship. I have enjoyed talking to her about school, friend and passions. We both were totally surprised to discover that she adored the same band as my son did “One direction”. It has been a lot of fun to help her with homework and discuss books she read or dreams she had. Maureen learned some fact about Moldova and loved our mamaliga, traditional Moldovan food.

We spent a lovely time discovering each over. I have always been wondering what inclusiveness is…but only here in U.S., for the first time, I have discovered what it really means. It is a wonderful world to leave in!


Natalia Iuras,
PFP finalist, Spring 2014 round

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