The School of Traditions: Teaching Kids Romanian Customs

by Denisa Morariu
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They wanted to find out more about one of their mother cultures, so they went to the Romanian School of Culture and Traditions in London. They are the British born Romanians.

As Mother’s Day approaches, they paint colourful cards and stick flowers and butterflies on them. Then they write, in a corner, in Romanian: Te iubesc, mami! (I love you, mom!).

But this is not all: every Saturday, for almost four hours, the children get to learn about Romania’s history, geography, language and ethnography.

With very few notions about Romania, the kids start from the beginning: every week they learn new words. Then, they move on to the more difficult topics.

Most children at the school were born in the UK and have at least one Romanian parent. They were sent to the School of Traditions to explore their origins.

Romanians, last to preserve identity

Mrs. Simon is a parent whose child attends the classes. She says that she wants her son, Paul, to learn to speak in Romanian with his grandparents. “Unfortunately, Romanians are the last to keep their identity” when living in a foreign country, she notes.

At home, Mrs. Simon speaks to her son in her mother tongue, to keep the Romanian roots alive.

The School of Traditions was founded by the Romanian Orthodox Church in London, in 2005. At first, it only taught religion. Now, it offers a whole range of subjects: history, geography, literature, grammar, ethnography.

Young teachers work at the school on a volunteer basis and dedicate their time to promoting their identities. They teach the children serious topics and then spicy it up with a legend or some poems when the kids begin to lose interest.

The children also get to paint, listen to Romanian music, dress in traditional costumes and put on stage theatre plays written by Romanian writers. And as every serious school has homework, so has this one.

Struggling without funds

Organisers of the classes feel fortunate to have been given free space to do the classes. Otherwise, they wouldn’t afford it.

In fact, the school was closed for one year because of the absence of a free place where kids could learn about one of their mother cultures.

Without any financial support besides that received from parents who can afford, the organizers of the school say they don’t have enough funds to put in practice all their plans.  Ms. Pop said the sums they receive are used to buy books and stationery.

The organisers also invite specialised history and geography teachers to tell the children about Romania’s past and geology. They as well are Romanians, but live and teach in London.

Before the school day ends, the children repeat the new words they have learnt: vapor (ship), stele (stars), lună (moon). One of them even recounts the new legend they were told that day.

Until the next week, the square boxes with coloured paper, books, pencils and watercolours will be waiting for them.