Interview with Ana Raducanu, host community for RestartEDU Romania, a Community of Practice on Transforming Education in Romania. The interview was conducted by Magda Balica in Cheia, Romania - RestartEDU Camp 2015 for www.discuss-community.eu.
What is RestartEDU?
We are here at the third event, a summer camp we are hosting for our community. This started three years ago with 50 members from various NGOs, as well as business and public sector, working in education. The community started from a common purpose of transforming education in any way possible. We have developed our community so far through various events, this one being one of them. And, we have created spaces for people who share the same purpose, to meet and share resources, connect with each other, find out how they can support and help one another in order to have greater impact together and reach their goals even faster. You know, education is a sector in which it takes long time to see the results. So, we are hoping for an increase or acceleration of this process by putting all our resources together. To see how we can enhance that.
So, people say that with RestartEdu you started the most authentic community on education in Romania. But, at the same time you say that the goal of your community is to transfrom education. So, I was thinking about what it means to have this goal. Do you think that this ideal to transform education is too high for a community, or after two years you should lower your ambitions?
We based our community on the passion that people have for what they do. And I think this passion should not be lmimted by a standard of what is doable, what is reachable or not. I think we have in our hearts a vision of how beautiful this world can be and, how great our education can really work for our future. And that’s the place out of which this people start and create the transformation that they need. So, I hope our vision can increase year after year, because that will drive us further and we’ll enhance that passion to have a reach even beyond what we can practically do.
Ok, let‘s talk about what we practically do. If you look back, two years ago when the community started. What do you think is the most important achievement of the community so far. What do you see personally see as the greatest value in practical terms?
That is one of our greatest challenges. And I think after this time spent together we have managed to gather in a closer group, various NGOs, bigger NGOs from the country. Those have been involved in a process of working together, collaboration and finally founding of a federation of NGOs in education, which is the first one in Romania. We need a lot of patience to do that and the community has supported this process in order to have the space and the time to gather all resources. The coalition - it’s called coalition for education – has just started out as a project.
What does it mean to you personally to being part of this community, hosting such big events with so many people that sometimes have different needs and expectations about the same issue.
Well, I had the opportunity to gather experience before I came to this community, experience on various aspects of our society. I studied political science, and have been involved in volunterring in NGOs for 10 years. My parents have a business; they run a small enterprise. I have seen different pieces of how the different parts of the system work and I have come to the understanding that the bigger purpose should include all those aspects, We can‘t have the society in which we want to live and forget about one of these areas. Only the combination of the different aspects makes it possible. That is why I have a personal drive and put together all those perspectives, because I see value in every approach. Regardless if business, NGO or the formal education system. They should support each other and see the bigger picture of what they form.
So. let me go back. What are the most important lessons. What have you learned during this time of hosting and facilitating this community of practice in Romania?
One of the major challenges I experienced was the shift from an individual approach to a collective one, an community oriented approach. And that’s very challenging in our culture I suppose, because we are very oriented towards having the last word, being right and doing things on our own. And in the community with other people you have to listen to them, to be open and gathering any ideas that could help you. And I think this takes a lot of practice, to really hear each each other and to create something which is not mine and not yours. It is something inbetween us and goes beyond the ego, something that is greater than each one of us.
Ok, let’s see it the other way around. What is the most difficult aspects of being a member or a host of a community of practice?
We started bringing into our community practice tools and instruments that are not so widely used. So, I’m referring to the art of hosting practice, that operates from another paradigm. It’s one that is not based on control, but meant to empower each of the individuals in the community. I find it very diffult to promote these kind of practices, because for years we have worked in paradigm where someone needs to have the final word, because he or she is the expert we look up to like our god.
This is not what we do here, beacuse we think everyone is important and has his own gifts to share. It is difficult to organize spaces based on freedom, because with that freedom that we offer a great responsibilty goes along and, I feel that we are not used to truly take responsibility for what we want to do. Everything we do, each event in which we use all these tools and instruments is another step closer to having them imprinted in our culture and to see that we can operate from that paradigm as well. I think this kind of approach could also help us to enhance our creativity and truly support and help each other. That we look at each other as equal and not try to control one another and, give power to the group.
What is your bigger dreams connected to this community of education in the next years?
I’d like to dream a lot. I would love to gather around this purpose of transforming education everyone who could feel empowered to do something about it: people in NGOs, in the public sector, decision makers, people from business, parents, students. Everyone that has anything to do with education. I think education is the responsibility that we all share, no matter what we do. Eversyone can get involved, having a say about it. In the long term I would like this community to grow on the international level in order to connect with various other groups from around the country, because on the global level there’s another wave of revolution. And I would love to be part of that, because the vision and the tools we could approach if we were even more connected, could enhance our power.
Thank you very much and good luck with your dream.