Romanian and Moldovan High-school Students attend the Presidential Classroom, in Washington DC, 19-25 July 2009

22nd July 2009

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Fifteen Romanian and Moldovan high-school students from the cities of Bucharest, Falticeni, Turda, Calarasi, Onesti and Grigoriopol (in the Transnistrian enclave of the Republic of Moldova) are currently in Washington DC, attending the one week-long 2009 Future World Leaders Summit organized by the Presidential Classroom. The Presidential Classroom is the world’s leading provider of hands-on experiential education in the practice of government for high-school students from all over the world who attend a variety of programs organised by the Classroom throughout each year. The strength of this year’s Romanian/Moldovan contingent was made possible by scholarships provided by the Ratiu Family Foundation of the UK, by Dr Eliot Sorel of Washington DC and by the Presidential Classroom itself, directed by Romanian-born Ms Maria Darie. Nicolae Ratiu, Chairman of the Ratiu Family Charitable Foundation, says: “We are very glad to offer the Ratiu Foundation’s support to students from Romania and the Republic of Moldova so that they can attend the prestigious Presidential Classroom. Acting in the sprit of my father, Ion Ratiu, a great democracy campaigner and humanitarian, we believe that democratic attitudes and ideals should be nurtured and encouraged in the younger generation, in order to ensure a fair and honest future for all. By supporting this trip to the 2009 Future World Leaders Summit, we want to show our continued interest in educational and civil society programmes both in Romania and in the Republic of Moldova.” Dr Eliot Sorel of the George Washington University, an American of Romanian origin born and raised in Falticeni, Romania, says “My childhood dream of a united Romania will symbolically be realized for one week in my own city !!!”. Dr Sorel has worked particularly hard to achieve the exceptionally strong Romanian/Moldovan attendance at this year’s Presidential Classroom. During their one week stay in Washington DC, Romanian and Moldovan participants will not only attend classes in the US nation’s Capitol building, but will also have an opportunity to visit the capital’s historic sites as well as meet with members of the Ratiu Foundation’s US Board and other Washington residents interested in Romanian and Moldovan affairs. Two of the students of the Romanian/ Moldovan group, who are now the youngest Ratiu Scholars, are Simina Oprea and Daniela Caliga. Simina from Turda will be starting high-school this autumn; she is an excellent student and is also a member of the Ion Ratiu Debating Club. Since 2007 she is a registered volunteer with the Ratiu Center for Democracy, showing an active interest in civil society. Daniela Caliga is a student at Stefan cel Mare si Sfant High-school in Grigoriopol, Republic of Moldova. She is involved in various extra-curricular activities dealing with the effect of the complicated political and social conditions in Grigoriopol on students and their families. The Ratiu Foundation’s support for the presence of the Romanian/Moldovan group in the Presidential Classroom stems from its commitment to building civil society in Romania and also in the Republic of Moldova. This pledge was made in 2008 in Washington DC, with the occasion of the Ion Ratiu Democracy Lecture. During this event, Moldovan democracy and human-rights campaigner, Mrs Eleonora Cercavschi, was honoured with the 2008 Ion Ratiu Democracy Award for her work. The Ratiu Family Charitable Foundation is a UK-registered charitable body established in London in 1979 by Ion and Elisabeth Ratiu, in order to promote and support projects which further education and research in the culture and history of Romania. The Foundation offers 100 annual grants worth GBP 200,000, principally for projects, postgraduate courses, conference participations, travel grants, and other short term courses including academic research. The Ratiu Center for Democracy is an independent, non-governmental Romanian foundation, established in 2004 in Turda, Transylvania. Based on the life and work of Ion Ratiu (1917-2000) the Center’s vision is to promote the values and behaviours associated with the practice of democracy, encouraging citizens of all ages to reach their fullest potential in the service of their community. The Center also promotes “democracy as a way of life”, by incorporating democracy-learning into its activities wherever possible and addressing problems that are common to most societies in transition to democracy.