28 January 1998

... and mostly why? (EN, AUBG)

I sometimes like to mock at ordinary, as well as very important things, by childishly asking why? Sometimes it’s just another joke, but every now and then such a question sticks to my mind, leading me to entertaining what I call inciting and valuable ideas. Although the question may seem obsolete in and of itself, it proved most useful along the last few years of my life.... Mostly because such a question provides explanations as to the motivations we have when undertaking certain actions. Therefore, why ARA?

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logo created by Ádám Rotaru, circa 1997
I remember as if it were yesterday. It might have been February, or April, I don’t remember exactly. One cannot judge by the Blagoevgrad weather. I just know it’s been a wonderful day, like springtime, warm, sunny, although a little bit windy. I was sitting there, with Răzvan, in front of the Student Services office. And we were sort of “talking about the weather,” and all of a sudden we both had this revelation: It was so fine, too fine to let it all go, to let it slip off our hands and die, sometime in May, when they, the first generation of Romanian graduates from AUBG would have packed up and left, maybe forever...

Although a simple idea in the beginning, it got somewhat clearer, and a few minutes later it grew out wings--we were absolutely determined we had to do something! We didn’t know what yet, we didn’t know when, we had no idea who’d join us, but we knew we wanted to gather everybody together... Everybody with whom we had shared for a few years all the bad and the good of our lives... We had some sort of a foggy project that we were determined to mold, to bring to life one way or another. But as all “great” ideas, this one, too, needed a period of cerebral breeding, of a gestation of sorts...

It might have been after a month, or only 2 weeks later--I don’t remember now, and it ain’t relevant here either! One evening, after a party, Răzvan and I met on the stairways, and we started debating over AUBG’s nebulous situation in terms of the then latest developments concerning faculty and administration--everybody was doing so at the time, so we weren’t any different... The conversation, however, became more and more engaging as Corina, Mae and Gikă (I hope I haven’t left anybody out) joined us in our efforts to discover/uncover the “scenario” and the dark secrets underlining the whole “deal.”

I don’t know how, but as soon as we left the stairways for the bar, we started talking about more personalized issues, and consequently about our great idea of somehow getting together and organizing ourselves. The idea of keeping alive the relationships that had brought us so much joy during the past weeks, months, years was very warmly welcome. Thus, ARA came into being--the abbreviation, if I’m not mistaken, belongs to Răzvan who was trying to speak just as fast as he was thinking... Understandably, to say AUBG Romanian Alumni over and over again seemed not only tiresome, but impractical as well; and we were real tired that late night.

In the beginning, we only thought of a simple “phone book” of which one of us would have had to take care, keeping everybody else posted on the latest address changes. Then everything was supposed to climax in a yearly gathering for a talk, at someone’s place, or at a restaurant somewhere... However, we came up with the idea that during these yearly meetings we could talk business as well. Thus, there was but a small step to take between this moment and that when we wondered whether we shouldn’t meet in a somewhat institutionalized way. Eventually, someone made the point that such an association should also be socially involved, for any one of us could become in a decision-making position. Therefore, we’d better try and set the basis for a strong and stable organization, and the first two articles of the Statute came into being right there, on the spot...

When we started thinking about who would be the members of our association, we kind of started to quarrel. We were extremely tired, it was indeed too late at night, and we were only a handful of the prospective members, anyways. So we decided to talk it over, afresh, with everybody else, the next day... I think that more than a week has actually passed until we managed to sit and discuss it again, but by the end of the spring term 1996 we already had a draft statute for ARA. And a very good one, too! Yes, that draft has already been revised three times by now, and it’s for sure it’ll undergo another, in order for it to better represent what we want, and also to comply with the Romanian laws... But all of these revisions focus mostly on the form, not the content, because the original draft was so damned smart!

During last summer, while in Bucharest, I tried to find out what else was needed to be done. In order to have the association of the AUBG Romanian Alumni registered as a lawful organization, we only need 21 members with their signatures on the document representing our Statute (and, of course, to pay some taxes--oh, well, nothing’s for free, you know). It’s easy now, for we have almost everything ready, and we’ll do it during the summer, so that by 1 September, the latest, we’ll be fully operational. The basic assumption is that each of us will start their careers with a tremendous competitive advantage as to our colleagues studying in Romanian universities (and we know this by looking at the situation our Bulgarian alumni find themselves in). But in order to be able to surpass the ignorance and the suspicion we shall encounter, I’m sure that we’ll need each-other’s help--just as we do right now, when still AUBG students.

Some Romanian proverb solemnly proclaims that “should a madman throw a pebble in a lake, ten wisemen won’t be able to retrieve it.” Why? Because the wisemen don’t know what team-work is all about; for they’re not used to it! If we learn how to work as a team in AUBG, and don’t lose sight and practice of this skill afterwards, then we, the AUBG wise alumni, will be able to find whatever pebble, in whichever lake, regardless of whoever has thrown it there... And mostly this is why ARA exists.

Later edit: The ARA Statute and/or by-laws were once again amended and adopted in 2000, when we also had elections for officers. The Romanian Chapter of the AUBG Alumni Association fundraised and supported 3-4 scholarships in the early 2000s, before turning dormant for some time…

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