Prior to our trip, the class mentioned that we are interested in going to an orphanage. Horia works closely with one of them, so he arranges the trip for the evening. RAU drivers take us there, and Dr. Potecea and Horia bring us back. During the weekend trip, Horia mentioned to me that there were many numerous orphanages, but Mia Scarlat’s was the best. Her strong nature and savvy background make the orphanage work efficiently, and those who are in her care are inspired to perform their best and become successful. Mia taught herself English, mostly through the 3 month timeframe she spent with the Castle family in Tennessee. She then served as an interpreter to U.S. groups that aid Romanian orphanages. In her younger years, she was a dancer, and before starting the organization, she was a teacher. This combined with her love for children is the glue that holds everything together. The children are obedient, beautiful, and eager to learn. Her previous and current children are national winners, college graduates, grateful and graceful citizens.

With the money gathered from the students, we bring eggs, honey, juice, jams, and other food supplies she is in need of. In return, as we walk in, the students thank us and tell us hello. They know few words in English, but they are impressive during our first few minutes of meeting them. They sing us songs, play hand-games with us after shaking our hands, and are gathered for story-time.

She details stories on how a lot of them were abused, abandoned, and even used as child sex slaves. Mia detailed to us how difficult it is transforming them to understand physically and emotionally that they are loved unconditionally and all children should get a chance to know and live a normal childhood. She gives us a tour, and speaks fondly of her husband whom she lost three years ago; he was like a father to the children and Mia’s partner in work. Some of the orphans call Mia their mother, because her love and the way she cares for them is exactly that. I do my best to fight away tears that well up in admiration of her strength, and in sadness and shame our modern world still faces obstacles to be able to provide basic necessities and humane treatment to innocent children. It does not work, and the tear ducts let it pour like a rainy day in April.

Before we leave, we are given gifts made by the children. They are framed cross-stitch works, and mine is of a yellow giraffe. I hug the picture and hold it next to my heart. We give hugs to all of the students and depart. On the drive back, Dr. Potecea even admits he was a bit uneasy about going to his first orphanage, as there are many Gypsy children there. After he spends time with them, he is impressed that the children of Roma blood do not have the associated Gypsy accent he expected and are excelling far beyond the average Romanian’s expectations. Everyday since, I am thinking of them and ways that I can help do my part to assist them from afar.

We return after the Cantina has closed, and are famished. I am in the mood for sushi, as our classmates recommend it. Emily, Ami, and I take one taxi together towards the Baneasa. The taxi driver drives us in an unfamiliar direction, and points out the Piazza; a place we hadn’t been to, but a shopping area too. We tell him that this is incorrect, and we eventually drive back to the Baneasa. This takes the entire trip backwards, and he flirts with all of us during the entire trip. In our conversation we find out that he is 37, unmarried, has 2 sons, has a sister in Italy, and wants to come back to the USA with us. We politely decline while hysterically laughing at his attempts. Thirty-five Lei later ($10 USD), we arrive and everyone is too hungry to sit and wait for sushi. My cohorts settle on fast food, and I disappointingly order a fish sandwich from Nordsee.  For dessert, Carly purchases and wants to try macaroons and gelato. She shares with me to try her cherry pistachio gelato, and a piece of each of the macaroons: caramel, lychee rose, and coconut.