DESCRIPTION OF THE SUCCESS STORY
The story started last year(2012), somewhere around July, when the elementary graduates came to attest their subscription to this high school after the national examination they sat earlier. Paula, who didn’t learn quite well at school, was allocated to this high school not as a consequence of her grades at this exam but due to the places reserved to students of other ethnic feature, which was a national measure taken by the authorities to integrate socially the Gypsy people. In spite of all these measures, she refused to go to school. I spoke many times to her older sister, who was already a student of our high school and I found out the reason of her younger sister’s retirement: she was afraid of not keeping up the pace with her colleagues and being called “The Gypsy” . I persuaded her to give her a chance and talked to my colleagues who came up with the idea of using specific methods of teaching her; I even managed to convince her to join our high school theatre club that I’m coordinating, which really accelerated her social integration. Sooner than expected, she befriended a lot of people and became more self-confident and ambitious. Consequently, her grades at school improved and she didn’t miss any school classes; she is more active and optimistic, recognizing she really likes high school and wants to encourage other Gypsies to come to school to learn a lot of things: ”For example, me, I act and learn to sew and now I really like to read, especially theatre plays!”
Paula’s tale represents not only a personal successful story but also our school and community one, being an example of overcoming all the obstacles she met in the learning process, through specific methods conceived after the student profile and also, through the discovery and exploitation of her abilities and interests by keeping a permanent and close contact with her and her family, teachers.
This aspect is of great importance for Paula’s story as she becomes an exception for her people, gypsy people, who is still deeply rooted in its traditions, being characterized by misery and a low rate of school house due to their low interest in school and lack of real-to-life perspectives for their young generation.
Her sister’s example, Francesca, was certainly important. Francesca is even for herself, an example of success, intelligence and ambition of a student, who in her first years of schooling, had to fight the Romanians’ preconceived ideas about the Gypsy. At the same time, the national legal frame which allowed Paula to enter high school and support her financially was as important as the professionalism and the pedagogy of her teachers, but also her classmates’ open attitude towards her ethnic group. In other words, her story exemplifies one victory over the intolerance and discrimination of an ethic group. All these factors together with Paula’s determination to fight contributed to her story happy ending.
Paula was very happy to tell her life story and underlined the fact that not only Romanians had preconceived ideas about the Gypsies but also vice versa. She said “ If we only talked to each other, we would find out we are the same .........and maybe, more Gypsies like me would come to school and have a chance in life as I have.....I will be a seamtress and I’d really love it!”