From Romania, With Love

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The government of Romania, through its Ministry of Foreign Affairs, presented Kennesaw State a “150 Years of Romanian Diplomacy” Honorary Award to recognize the role of the 2011-2012 “Year of Romania” in promoting the country’s values and culture abroad.

Darius Gazinschi, Honorary Consul of Romania for the state of Georgia, praised Kennesaw State for its “invaluable contribution” to Romania’s efforts to be recognized for its universal values in international relations. The award was presented during an intimate ceremony attended by University officials, faculty members and students of Romanian heritage and special guests, including the parents of two faculty members.

“Romania has struggled a long time and fought hard to achieve a cherished status among nations with universal values,” said Gazinschi, noting the country’s long history of struggle for independence and its transition since 1989 from a communist country into a vibrant democracy and member of NATO and the European Union. “[Romania] needs good people to help us share our country’s great culture and values. The people of Kennesaw State University are among the elite of these good people.”

The “150 Years of Romanian Diplomacy” initiative was established in 2012 to reflect Romania’s diplomatic efforts since 1862, when the country started a foreign office. The honorary award to Kennesaw State is only the fifth presented in the U.S. 

As Kennesaw State’s 27th annual country study, the “Year of Romania” featured more than 30 lectures by scholars, a series of cultural events and a business conference. It represented significant milestones, including the first time the country study was tied to the study abroad program and the highest level of engagement among students and faculty with more than 60 visiting Romania during the year.

The success of the “Year of Romania” was largely due to the extensive relationships Kennesaw State officials have developed with academic, business, civil society and governmental partners in the country, said Barry Morris, vice provost for strategic initiatives. He noted a 10-year partnership between the Coles College of Business and ASEBUSS, a Bucharest-based business institute that offers an executive MBA program that has helped educate more than 530 global managers who have been instrumental in Romania’s shift to a centralized economy. The partnership engages Kennesaw State faculty and students in academic exchanges in Romania.

“This honor demonstrates that unexpected, serendipitous good things happen because of the good seeds that have been planted,” Morris said. “With Romania, good things continue to happen at Kennesaw State.”

Dan Paracka, director of academic initiatives for Kennesaw State’s Institute for Global Initiatives and coordinator of the annual country study program, said the impact of the “Year of Romania” continues through the study abroad program, which allows faculty to continue to teach about the country and the ongoing interest in an academic journal Kennesaw State published about Romania.

Darina Lapadatu, an associate professor of sociology with Romanian roots who helped coordinate the Romania annual study and organized a summer study abroad for 30 students, noted the steady traffic on the “Year of Romania” website and the demand for downloadable “Year of Romania” lectures, which have also expanded the impact of the country study program.

“The ‘Year of Romania’ has been one of the most important programs in the U.S. to promote Romania,” said Lepadatu, who was overjoyed when 43 students enrolled in an experimental course she designed for the “Year of Romania.” “It provided great exposure for a record number of students to study abroad, to truly experience the culture and warmth of the people and to be part of the first American delegation to three Romanian universities. They had such a wonderful experience that some of them did not want to come home.”

─ Sabbaye McGriff