RSP students do not work on their own. They join forces with a team of Romanian Christians who feel called to make a difference for good in their community. The Veritas staff represents all of the major churches of Sighisoara and the four ethnic groups, Romanian, Hungarian, German and Roma (gypsy). The Veritas staff has qualified and experienced social workers, educators, youth workers, psychologists and counsellors, as well as skilled and committed support staff. Many of them speak English well. Romania’s joining the European Union in 2007 led to increasingly demanding standards for social services. Achieving accreditation at the county level and licensing at the national level confirm Veritas in continuously seeking to improve the way they serve the community and people in need.
AS RSP students work alongside Romanian team members, participate in planning meetings, accompany staff on home visits, enjoy informal conversation over lunch, share in times of prayer, enjoy fun together at the annual retreat, Christmas party or a summer picnic, relationships are forged that expand the students’ perspectives. They learn that “the American way”, is not the only way to do things, and find that some of their beliefs and values are being challenged. It is in the context of relationships that personal growth happens.
With a history of more than twenty years of activity in Sighisoara, the Romanian Studies Program has a strong network of relationships with local churches and with the professional and business community. Students benefit from guest speakers, role models, consultants and mentors who help expand their understanding of Romanian culture, challenge their ethnocentrism, and provide scope for internships.
Veritas was founded on the work of American students in the community, but it has flourished under Romanian leadership. When asked if they would prefer to stand alone without input from foreign students and volunteers, the Romanian staff inevitably insists that it is the international, intercultural character of Veritas that is one of its strengths. The Americans (and other westerners) come to learn, but they also share from their experience, skills, knowledge, energy and enthusiasm. The Romanians offer guidance, example, insight, encouragement, but they are also helped, supported, exposed to new ideas and enabled to touch more lives because of the RSP students’ contributions. This dynamic exchange is a strength of the Romanian Studies Program, allowing it to have a practical impact through many years on this Transylvanian town.