The most impactful memory that comes to mind when I think about my life experiences had nothing to do with the places I saw or the things that I did. It came from the people that I met and what they taught me. My boss, Ramona, was my closest friend when I completed my Global Citizen exchange in Romania. She was a second mother to me and helped me through everything, as did I when I became a little part of their family.
As a divorced single mother of twins, one rebellious but sweet pre-teen named Bia and one cheerful cancer-survivor named Alexia, I often enjoyed taking a break as an intern and filling in as a babysitter. When Ramona needed help with the girls, I gladly stepped up. I was cook after along day. I was another sister to Bia and Alexia, someone to show them how to put on mascara. I was a third player in Twister. And most importantly, I was a friend when she was down or just needed someone to listen- even if our language barrier made it difficult to do so.
The fact that we didn’t speak each other’s languages well made our connection even stronger, as we would jump in excitement when we finally figured out what we were trying to say and used Google translate to have deep talks about life on our night drives back to my house in the village of Sacele. Her passion for Asociata Amuradia and Zambet de Copil showed in everything that she did and it made me work even harder as her intern.
Saying goodbye to Ramona and the girls was one of the hardest things I had to do. At the end of my trip, we took a final night drive as she cancelled my taxi and insisted on dropping me off at the airport at 2am. We talked about how much we had impacted each other and how we would always be a part of each other’s lives because we were family. It’s still strange to me that strangers living half way across the world can become family in such an extreme cross-cultural experience. Ramona’s words have stuck with me ever since and reopened my eyes to the more important things in life and that above all, the relationships that we have with our friends and family should come before everything else.