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Right Direction | Volunteering in building communities: An interview with Honorary Consul Iulian Calinov

IULIAN Calinov was born in 1967 in Bucharest, Romania.

He is a graduate of the Polytechnic University of Bucharest, the School of Electrical Engineering (BSc, 1992) and of the Academy of Economic Studies of Bucharest (MBA, 1997). He studies at Loughborough University in Leicestershire, UK (visiting student, 1991-1992). He is a Teaching Assistant at the Polytechnic University of Bucharest and, in parallel, he works as a software development system engineer for various companies in Romania (1992-1998). Later on, he works as program manager for Microsoft in Redmond, Washington (1998-2018) and then as technical program manager for Facebook (from 2018 to present).

Tiberiu Dianu

Iulian Calinov holds the position of President, then Secretary of the Romanian-American Society in the Washington state (2010-2018). Later on, he works for the Alliance Foundation as a Program Director and a board member (from 2016 to present). Mr. Calinov also holds the position of the Honorary Consul of Romania in Seattle, Washington (from 2016 to present).

I met Mr. Iulian Calinov 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.

During the event I had a brief interview with Mr. Honorary Consul.

1. Dear Mr. Iulian Calinov, you are the Honorary Consul of Romania in Seattle, Washington. What responsibilities do you have on this line regarding the Romanian community on the Pacific coast?

Thank you for the opportunity of the interview. Officially, practically, I do not have... I am not a Romanian government employee, all my activity is voluntary. Our idea in Seattle is to follow the model used by other ethnic communities in the United States, a successful model, if we think about, say, the Irish, the Italians, let alone other nationalities, but they do have an extraordinary success in promoting their own community, in making their voices heard, both in the United States and in their country of origin. This is not done overnight because, unfortunately, there is a rather painful history for some of them. And what we are trying to do is to build this long-term idea, yes, to unite communities together, both for the benefit of the community here and for the benefit of Romania. That's what we want to do.

2. Thank you very much. You are also the Secretary of the Romanian-American Society of Washington state. What achievements does the Society have in the line of promoting Romanian culture in the United States?

Yes, so the Romanian-American Society that you mentioned, joined a year ago the American-Romanian Cultural Society, and you have seen the ARCS achievements today. Yes, the Romanian language program for the high school students, we have forty children who have the Romanian language on their official diplomas issued by the Washington state. This, I think, is an achievement that we are proud of, because it is a long term achievement for the purpose mentioned above. And those children, for the rest of their lives, will have the Romanian language and will think about it. Yes, also very important, we have had five consecutive festivals, five years in a row we had Romanian film festivals. We are starting to expand more Romanian language programs for younger children, and Romanian camps. These are just a few, we have many, but these are probably the most important ones.

3. Thank you very much. The last question, what do you think are the best volunteering and community building practices?

The best practices are related to community motivation. And the community is motivated, in principle, very easily if you give this opportunity to the communities. And, often, it is simply related to recognition. Yes, so as a Honorary Consul I have never hesitated to give recommendations to the young people who got involved. Parents are very grateful for this. Indeed, as to the activities we do with the Romanian language with everyone in the community, we have not received any criticism related to these activities, and everyone is very willing to volunteer. So, practically, you come and meet the community, and the community will respond in a very comprehensive way to you.

4. Thank you very much, Mr. Consul.

With great pleasure.

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