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Friday, April 29, 2011

Parallel musings: Two stories sandwiching a lecturette.

Today I discovered a blog by a fellow named Andy H.  It appears he and I have dealt with similar topics.  Here is a link to the post in his blog that caught my interest: Csíkszereda musings: A story.

Here is a link to an old post from "A Fulbright Year in Romania" that seems to me to be somewhat in parallel to Andy's musings.

I especially admire Andy H. for this line in his blog's heading: "I reserve the right to go off topic and talk about anything I damn well like."

Hang tough, Andy!  I hope that we can meet one day, perhaps at Praid, for a salty conversation.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

An Easter Morning Noncoincidence

Hristos a înviat!  (Adevărat a înviat!)

The Easter midnight Mass at the Romanian Orthodox Saint John of Suceava Mission in Manchester, the only Romanian church in New Hampshire, was a beautiful three-hour event, attended at midnight by over 100 Romanians, Romanian-Americans, and their offspring.

Father Aurel Petrescu is the priest of the Saint John of Suceava Mission, which was founded in Manchester in 1996.  He proved a precise and thorough performer of the mass, and has a beautiful voice, which, with God's help, remained strong through all three hours.  In certain sections of the service, Father Petrescu was assisted by our "adoptive nephew" Alexandru Mican, the newly-minted MBA from Plymouth State University, who did his high schooling at the Cathedral Seminary School in Cluj, and thus is familiar with the liturgy.

Following the mass, the forty or so of us who had stayed for the entire service (it is common in Romania for folks to come and go during such long church events, and many had small children with them) enjoyed a pot-luck buffet.  Alex had brought some of his wonderful vinete, a uniquely Romanian eggplant puree that is spread on bread, and is most delicious.  I contributed sliced ham that I had baked on Saturday.

As it got to be 4:00 AM, a man I had exchanged nods with during the service came to our table.  He sat next to me, introduced himself as Mr. Aurelian Diaconu, and asked if I knew Romanian.  He said he had noticed I was joining in singing some of the responses during the interactive chants.  "Puțin," I said.  "A little."  "But mostly I was listening and repeating what others were singing."  His wife Liana joined us (Alex, Aurelian, and I were at the table together), as Aurelian asked about my time in Romania.  "Not many Americans know anything about Romania," he said. 

"I know," I told him, "I am very lucky.  I have taught at UBB in Cluj for three of the past six semesters."

"What do you teach?" he asked.


At that point, Liana spoke up:  "I have a cousin who is an economist in Cluj."

I asked, "At UBB-FSEGA?"  [Facultatea de Știinţe Economice și Gestiunea Afacerilor, the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration]

"I think so." 

"Then we have been colleagues.  Perhaps we have met."

"Her name is Mihaela Luțaș."

Alexandru Mican laughed out loud.  He, too, understood.  There are no coincidences.
The Family Diaconu of Manchester with Alexandru Mican at Easter Feast

[Prodeacon Mihaela Luțaș heads the Englishline programs at FSEGA.  She has been my immediate "boss" in all my teaching in Romania, since 2008.  In addition to being a distinguished and highly respected teacher and economist, Mihaela is one of my best friends in all the world.]

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Paşte Fericit!

Taken in Oradea, Romania, 2009

In about an hour, I will drive my former PSU MBA student (and now PSU colleague) Prof. Dr. Roxana (Dima) Wright, formerly of Brașov, and my former UBB student and good friend MICAN Alexandru to an Easter service at the Romanian church in Manchester, New Hampshire, about an hour's drive south of here.  It will be my third Orthodox Easter in as many years.  The service will be in Romanian.  Last Easter it was in both Greek and English at the cathedral in Worcester, Massachusetts.  In 2009 it was in Romanian at Biserica Sfanta Ana in Bistriţa, with Alexandru and his parents.

May God's blessings find us all this Easter, and may we see and appreciate them.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

"Insert-sort with Romanian folk dance "

My fellow Ameri-Clujian Raymond Wright posted this AlgoRhythmic piece of University output from Târgu Mureș, Romania.
Ray wrote: "Created at Sapientia University, Târgu Mures (Marosvásárhely), Romania. Directed by Kátai Zoltán and Tóth László. In cooperation with 'Maros Művészegyüttes',..."

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Life goes on (in keeping with The Plan?)

In Facebook this week, I received a message from Sachie Kelly Hayashi Lin, a late-90's classmate of one of our sons at The Holderness School.  Sachie wrote to introduce me to her friend Eileen O'Connell, who sent me the first message below, and started the following train of minor non-coincidences:

Eileen O'Connell wrote (in Facebook, 11 April, 2011):
Hello Duncan, Sorry for the late response to our introduction. I hope I'm not too late to tell you about a movie event Romanian Children's Relief is having this Thursday, April 14th in Cluj and to ask you to please pass it on to your friends and colleagues there. I have been volunteering with RCR for 12 years and have been fortunate enough to spend quite a bit of time caring for abandoned children and developing programs to prevent future displacements of families. We currently have programs in Bucharest and Bistrita and now we are expanding to Cluj. The Romanian web site is The movie Hand Held is about the founding of RCR.
I'd love to come to NH to visit you and your Romanian guests to talk about our work and to learn more about your experiences. I'm better with E-mail than Face Book [e-mail address].  I look forward to meeting you. Many thanks.
Date: Tue, 12 Apr 2011 07:24:19 -0700
From: duncan mcdougall [e-mail address]
Subject: Romania
To: eileenroconnell@e-mail address

Dear Eileen,

With this message we establish normal e-mail contact, without the aid of Facebook. 

You are going to love Cluj, if you will be going there, yourself.

I have copied this message to a few friends in Cluj.  If they have interest in your program, I leave it up to them to get in touch with you, and/or to attend the movie event that the Romanian Children's Relief is having this Thursday, April 14th in Cluj. 

Please do let me know if you get a chance to come to New Hampshire.  I would be delighted to spend some time reviewing our Romanian experiences, and perhaps taking a scenic drive in The White Mountains.

A link to my current blog (which contains many Romanian memories) is below.  Still more are to be found at my earlier blog, "A Fulbright Year in Romania."

Sincerely yours,


Tue, April 12, 2011 10:38:10 AM
RE: Romania
Eileen O'Connell [e-mail address]

To: Duncan McDougall

Thank you Duncan. I appreciate hearing from you. I have read your blogs and enjoyed them very much. They brought me back to similar experiences and reminded me of the kindness of Romanians.
I'll keep you posted on our progress in Cluj. The movie has really helped us connect with so many more people. We depend on volunteers in Romania to help our small staff run successful programs and special outings for the children. The good news is every time we show the movie more people step up to help.

April 12, 2011
RE: Romania
  : "Ratliff, Dan" [e-mail address]

To:Duncan C McDougall [e-mail address]

Thanks for the information about the screening.  I am helping publicize it, too, so it is gratifying to see the word go 'round the world. I think I met Eileen when I visited the NGO in Bistrita.

Sad news: our landlord Cornell Blajan passed away last week.  Quite unexpectedly.  Luci, his wife, found him at the house unconscious, rushed him to the hospital and he never regained consciousness.  Graveside service was yesterday. We were out of town for a conference in Italy and were greeted with the funeral notice on the gate when we returned Sunday.

I hope all is well with you and yours.  I am expecting that Life after Romania will not be as exciting as the Romanian Adventure, but that will be another chapter.  And I will work diligently to find ways to come back---I'm hooked!


Re: Romania
Duncan C McDougall [e-mail address]

To:"Ratliff, Dan"
Cc:Shirley McDougall [e-mail address]

Dear Dan,
I am most sorry to hear about Cornell's death.  Thankfully, it sounds as if he had a natural and a merciful passing.  He certainly impressed me as a wonderful man, to the extent that I knew him.
I understand the feelings you are having for Romania.  I remember that "Fulbrighter's pre-nostalgia" you are expressing.
I would be honored to share another time with you folks in Romania.  Perhaps we can arrange a future visit as two couples.
My very best to you, to Nancy, and to Cami,