“Helau und Alaaf” Baia Mare! – Johanna Groß

When I read the name of our Project „Carnaval de nonformal“ back home in Germany, immediately pictures of half-naked Brazilian samba dancers, crazily costumed persons  throwing candies and hundreds of celebrating people lining the streets plopped up in my mind. Well, that was not exactly what our carnival looked like. Even though we had crazily costumed persons and even a fire show, our carnival had the goal to show people in Baia Mare new ways of education, help them to overcome stereotypes, show them how get active and board their horizon.

In order to be able to do that, we got a week of training in August, where we learned what non-formal education exactly is, what kind of methods exist and which one each of us will organize and present in the carnival. After this week we were ready to start to work…well, but first we decided to do some trips, have some parties and watch some funny videos in the internet…we were in fact living the normal volunteer life. Which was amazing and fun, but two weeks before the carnival we suddenly realized how much had to be done! In the end some got a bit in time pressure and had to organize their methods in the very last days, when the carnival had actually already started.

The first three days of the carnival started pretty relaxed. We had everyday a Flash mob (which I really enjoyed) and an information tent put up. In the afternoon we did some balloon modelling at the tent. Not to forget the photo exhibition in the library. For me the Carnival really started with the “big” methods happening, when people got directly involved. I had to organize one of them, the world cafe, which is in the end another way of discussing and sharing ideas in a nice surrounding, for instance a coffee place.

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I had chosen the topic “Generation talks” for my first world cafe. Not only here in Romania, also in Germany there is a lack of conversation between generations I think. Of course I was expecting the worst happening- no people, no one likes my questions, and the discussions would die after some minutes. In the end things couldn’t have worked out better: the coffee shop was full with interesting people from every generation, they were discussing, the atmosphere was nice, and the cupcakes delicious. Since the cafe was in Romanian I wasn’t really able to hear what they were talking about, but everyone left with a smile. It couldn’t have been more satisfying.

From that point on the carnival got better and better: we had an amazing “meditation flash mob” and an interesting forum theatre on Friday, a successful open space technology and an eye opening living library on Saturday. My second “community” world cafe, everything worked out here as well, a crowded soccer game, again the living library and an impressing fire show closed the carnival on Sunday.

The week of the carnival was crowded and at some point everybody was very exhausted, but to me it was worth it. Somehow I am a bit proud of what we did, even though it surely could have been bigger, with more local people and done with more team work. Nevertheless, we surely showed some people what Non-Formal Education can be like (fun!) and were brightening up the days for some people. What else can I say? Good job guys and good luck to the next year’s carnival!

Johanna Groß

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