1-8 IN reaches out to Romanian communities
MIHAIL KOGALNICEANU, Romania– The soldiers of 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment (“Task Force Fighting Eagles”), 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, have only been in Romania for a month yet have fully immersed themselves in the local community and culture.
Over the last week, Soldiers toured historical Constanta and discussed poetry with high school students March 3 while supporting “American Corners,” the U.S. Embassy in Bucharest’s cultural diplomacy program to promote American literature with Romanian students, in partnership with a locally based U.S. Army civil affairs team.
Soldiers visited the Ovidius University of Constanta to read poetry from Emily Dickinson as well as share original work. The event provided a unique opportunity to share the passions of both poetry and American culture with junior Romanian scholars.
“I think opportunities in the community like these are important while we are here. It shows the people of Romania that beneath the uniform we are people just like them with similar interests and passions,” said Sgt. Malcolm Cohens-Ashley, an automations clerk with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Bn., 8th Inf. Regt.
When he was a boy, Cohens-Ashley developed a keen interest in poetry. He wrote his first poem when he was 10. So when this opportunity arose, he volunteered to read Dickinson’s “Why Do I Love You, Sir?” to a group of high school students visiting from Mircea Cel Batran, a national college.
Sixteen students from the college participated in the discussion about the poem’s themes. During the lesson they shared the meaning and symbolism found in the poetry, importance of the literature, and finished the discussion by sharing some of their original poetry. Cohens-Ashley also recited his own work entitled “Painless.”
“We are just so happy that the American Soldiers came to support our class. It meant a lot to the students to see soldiers taking time from their jobs to come here and just talk with us,” said Ileana-Mihaela Popescu, a professor of English at the Ovidius University of Constanta.
The Fighting Eagles Battalion arrived to Romania Feb. 13 in support of Atlantic Resolve to collectively train with Romanian Defense Forces and strengthen the credible deterrent capabilities available in southeastern Europe to respond to potential crises.
In Constanta, local youth scouts led U.S. soldiers through the city’s downtown square on March 4. The downtown harkens to Constanta’s history as an old port city on the coast of the Black Sea, with strong Roman and Dacian roots.
Soldiers met with representatives of Cercetasii Romaniei, a youth scouting organization focused on out-of-the-classroom education and community service, to develop a cultural understanding of the region. The scouts escorted Soldiers to places of historical significance, such as Constanta’s oldest surviving buildings and a historical Roman Catholic church, a Greek Orthodox cathedral and a mosque.
“It is so refreshing to see the American Soldiers interested in the history of the city. On top of that, their spending time with our local kids allows the opportunity to practice English, which is amazing. We hope to continue to have future events like this,” said Robert Urmosi, one of the youth scout leaders.
Source: US Army (USAREUR)