Fana youths build bridges in Romania

Two worlds met when a group from Nordahl Grieg upper secondary school traveled to Romania to discuss the content of the concept of democracy with Romanians of the same age.


Romania and Norway are democracies, but that's where the similarities end. Norway is in the top tier in most surveys that tell about the population's prosperity and happiness. Romania is the poorest country in the EU family, and the Oltenia region that the young people visited is the poorest in Romania.

The Fana youths made up half of the participants in Project DemocraTech Erasmus + / Aktiv Ungdom. The scheme is financed with funds from the EU, and the Adina Foundation in Bergen was responsible for the implementation. The special name is due to the fact that the other half of the delegation of 16 Norwegian young people taught their Romanian peers to build and program small robots.

- It was quite strong for the Norwegian young people to meet some of those whom they have supported over the years through their many school actions. Several of those who have received a helping hand from them for school fees or a bus ticket are studying medicine, law, IT or technical subjects, says Hilde Sandnes, general manager of the Adina Foundation in Bergen.

- The trip home to Alexandru made an impression, says Emil Torvik Griffiths (16). Alexandru Dumitru Olaru lives in a typical Romanian village just outside the city of Craiova. - There are big differences between the city and the countryside. Craiova is like a Norwegian city, but the image of Romania changed when we came out in the countryside.

- Two of those we visited had their own room, but a third had to share with the rest of the family. We probably learned that much we take for granted in Norway does not exist in a Romanian village, that what we would call a problem strictly should not be when we compare ourselves with those we worked with in the project, says Emil who goes to vg1 on Nordahl Grieg vgs.

Emil experienced that Romanians were less accustomed to openness than their Norwegian peers, but this gradually changed. - They said that they wanted to get a proper education, that they saw it as a success factor to get out of poverty. And everyone wanted changes in society, says Emil.

There is a lot of political unrest in democracy Romania. It is conceivable that one of these will one day take over political control locally or nationally. The group gained Norwegian impulses through thorough discussions about both human rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, equality and the right education and the right to decide over their own lives.

The democracy group and the robot group had to work closely together to find good solutions, whether it was when building and programming rolling robots of Lego bricks, or discussing themselves through the diverse concept of democracy. The Norwegian young people gained insight into great differences, but also experienced that there are many similarities, regardless of starting position and nationality.

Hilde Sandnes thinks it is fantastic that the EU gives young people this opportunity for what she defines as bridge building that will stimulate young people to become active citizens.

- We have probably got a slightly special impression of Romanians here in Bergen, but knowledge builds tolerance. The Romanian girls in the project will start a group where they will make young girls aware before they have to make decisive choices in life, for example how important it is to complete school, says Hilde Sandnes.

This is the third time the Adina Foundation has run an EU-funded program. 16 young people and four adult leaders completed the seven-day program. The Norwegian delegation also included students from Danielsen ungdomsskole, Framnes videregående, Åstveit ungdomsskole, Knarvik videregående and Bjørgvin Montessoriskole.