My name is Dorin Craciun. If someone would have asked me ten years ago to write my transition story I would have looked suspicious and have politely said no. Not so much because of my job (public servant), but because I wouldn’y have known what to say. At that point I had too few coordinates; my thoughts at 28 were focused too little on the future and my community. Life meant only my daily job, friends and fun. And sometimes science fiction literature, as a hobby.
Now I can say that the 10 years that have passed fundamentally changed my life. I am married, have two wonderful children, I take new challenges to innovate and build positive change for those whom I live with. I run an NGO called Sports Club Ulpianum Oradea (Oradea is a town in west Romania), this is meant to promote sports activities outdoors whilst being considerate of the environment and putting family at the core of all activities. Through this association I intend to expand this new way of looking at outdoor, recreational activities and I must confess I put in practice this concept starting from my own personal experience, and had a lot of my friends, colleagues also less familiar acquaintances adopting this as lifestyle.
With hindsight I can say I was a child grown and educated during communism. I was a “pioneer” and “UTCist” (member in the Union of Communist Youth), as these were compulsory steps during schooling. But not all things I learned back then were bad: I learned to study, to be polite, to be environment friendly (collect paper for recycling and take bottles to specialized centres), to do sports, to learn and innovate but also to be a good friend to people my age. Democracy brought by the 1989 Revolution changed deeply my life and my country’s. If in high school I wanted to teach Romanian language and literature, after graduation I opted for the Police Academy, because I felt I could contribute to normality and order. At graduation I was sent to a town in Transylvania and have started my professional career in a field I’m working in today, to be honest a bit changed because I work in human resources and professional learning. My path was one that many youth my age would have followed: a school ensuring a workplace from after graduation until retiring.
The recent economic crisis showed that not all things happen the same in this country: there is a very high number of graduates of state institutions that need, employment but starting 2011 this didn’t happen and many saw their dreams shattered, waiting in a long, austere vacation the workplace they deserve.
The first ones supporting my career choice were my parents, my teachers and a tv commercial. My parents told me I had to choose my own path, meaning I have to do what I wish and love, my teachers showed me I am capable and knew to bring the best in me, and the tv ad said: “The Police Academy is recruiting brave youth to prepare them in public order…”
The second edge happened after a discussion with my wife who asked me after she looked up on the internet training courses for teachers: “aren’t you interested in a Grundvig adult training?” and my weird answer was “who is Grundvig?”. After doing some research I found a world of expanding opportunities, of national and European training programmes for adults, in various fields, and it wasn’t hard to find the right path for me, where I had the opportunity to learn something new and I think it may have been an answer to the mediocrity, flatness of my working environment.
The third element that changed my optic about the world and life was a question coming from my boy (back then aged 4) while we were contemplating, during a vacation, the big amount of plastic waste in a mountain river: “how can we clean this up? he asked, because we are ecologists and need to take care of the environment”. Back then I promised him I would design a system for recycling and that way take care of the environment.
I started to research what collecting PETs means and found that the salubrity systems used by operators had a small capacity and cleaning maneuver. Finally I found a cheap solution, applicable in both urban and rural environments, so I built a model and took it at work. I applied a questionnaire to my colleagues to see what the incidence of recyclable waste is in a month time. I found out that all my colleagues use and throw an impressive number of approx. 14.300 bottles type PET, which are hardly biodegradable. Even if at the beginning my initiative met some resistance, at present it is an example of good practice. Over time I managed to improve the model and apply it in various public institutions, schools and kindergardens in my community, I even found a system that could help my neighbors recycle paper.
This effort was eye opening for me. I realized it is in my power to set an example and let other people know about my way of solving important problems, with reduced and sustainable costs. I began volunteering; I started to participate in local action groups aiming for social insertion of disadvantaged individuals or finding welfare indicators for the population in my town. I realized there are people surrounding me with very good ideas that for some reason are afraid to share, and also youth that need models, a good advice based on experience. I tried to understand mechanisms of democratic and transparent decision making, and at present I am in a lobby and advocacy group to change political decisions so as to support population health through sports and outdoor movement. I feel that this is only one step, as there can be so many more, which is why the association I am part of wants to get involved in supporting youth. Sometimes I forget I am 38 and feel surprised when those in their 20s address me with 2nd person polite pronoun. I realize being young at heart is not visible and that would be a good topic for a roundtable with people in different generations. Who knows, maybe one day we could bring this to discussion: old that are “young”, and young that are “old”…