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Right Direction | About the ethnic cultural space in the American context: An interview with Dr. Ileana Marin

ILEANA Marin (born in 1969) is a native of Constanţa, Romania.

She is a graduate of the University of Bucharest, the Faculty of Letters (BA, 1991; PhD, 2000) and the University of Washington in Seattle (PhD in comparative literature, 2011). She works at the Ovidius University in Constanţa as a Teaching Assistant (1997-2003) and an Assistant Professor (2003-2011), then as an English teacher at the Seattle Pacific University (2014-2015) and a Lecturer at the University of Washington in Seattle (from 2012 to present). She is a Fulbright scholar (2004). Since 2005 she has continued her studies in the United States, and in 2010 she settles down in Seattle, Washington.

Tiberiu Dianu

Ileana Marin’s areas of expertise are comparative literature, textual studies, multiculturalism and post-communist societies. She has authored five books of literature, arts and aesthetics. She is a co-founder and the President of the non-profit American-Romanian Cultural Society association (2013).

Ileana Marin has been living and working as a Lecturer at the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington.

I had the opportunity to meet Mrs. Ileana Marin on November 16, 2018, at the Romanian Embassy in Washington, DC, during a gala-symposium on issues of politics, security, management and culture, an event sponsored by the ALIANȚA (The Alliance – The Friends of the Romanian-American Alliance) Foundation. https://alianta.org/gala/gala-2018 On that occasion, Mrs. Ileana Marin was kind enough to give me a brief interview.

1. Dr. Ileana Marin, you are a specialist in comparative literature and textual studies at the Washington University in Seattle. What place does the Romanian language occupy in this context?

Ever since I have started teaching at the University of Washington, and I have started with comparative literature classes, I have integrated, I have tried to integrate in each one a text, a reference, a film, a reference to a Romanian artist because, in fact, Romanian culture has produced geniuses such as Brâncuşi, Tristan Tzara, Victor Brauner, Fundoianu, Cioran, Eliade, who must be known in a much wider international context, all the more so as there is interest in the American academia. However, having access to these valuable works through translation, as, indeed, all these authors enjoy translations, even very good ones, is different from the immediate access to the original text. My desire is to be able to provide access, even slightly limited, to the text in Romanian and, in particular, to the Romanian language, in general.

2. Thank you. In 2012 you initiated the foundation of the Romanian studies at the university. You are also one of the initiators of the non-profit organization American-Romanian Cultural Society. What programs have you run in the past and what agenda do you have in the future? In short.

Yes, in 2012 we organized an event to raise funds for the purpose of opening this, in fact, account, it's an account under the aegis of the University of Washington, which is called the Romanian Studies Fund, in which people, either from the Romanian community or Americans who are In love with Eastern Europe and even Romania, can contribute by donating funds directly to the university in Seattle. With this fund this year we are subsidizing the course “One Hundred Years of Cultural Transformations: Romanian Literature, Art and Film” at the University of Washington. Without this fund this course will not have taken place. We already have twelve students enrolled, there is still room for the twenty-five seats that we have planned for. So, in this way, the Romanian cultural voice will be heard in the academic space of the University of Washington, which, it must be said, is one of the prominent American universities, the 13th place in the USA.

3. Very beautiful. One last question. In your opinion, what are the best practices in teaching Romanian in schools?

It depends on the audience and the cultural space in which the school is located. Our experience, Otilia Baraboi’s and mine, as foreign language instructors in other cultural spaces, is that each cultural space has an expectation horizon that must be fulfilled, both by method and the content of texts, of the ways in which it is taught. That is why we are extremely attentive to the reactions of our high school and university students, and try to create a comprehensive method, as I mentioned today in my presentation, the integrative method in which, you have seen, grammar does not have a place. Grammar is taught interactively, it is taught through projects, it is taught through activities, not through boring drills or memorization exercises. As long as the language is not taught in a living context, a putting into context, the language cannot be learned in an alert manner by university students or high school students.

4. Thank you very much for this interview.

With pleasure.

Tiberiu Dianu has published several books and a host of articles on law, politics, and post-communist societies. He currently lives and works in Washington, D.C. and can be followed on Medium. https://medium.com/@tdianu