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Matthew Evans began a life-changing journey when he enrolled in Ileana Orlich’s Eastern European literature course during the Spring 2014 semester; it was then that he was introduced to ASU Study Abroad. Pushing his graduation date to allow for the summer program, he visited Central and Eastern Europe with the student cohort.
Following graduation, Evans was accepted into the Department of English's MA program and Orlich approached him with the opportunity to work at the University of Babes-Bloyai in Cluj, Romania. Collaborating with English's Director of Internships Ruby Macksoud, Evans folded the program into his master's degree work.
Evans describes the experience as a “self-made internship” that gave him valuable experience learning how to balance his teaching, his research, his elementary knowledge of the Romanian language, and his students’ lack of English.
“Eventually," he says, “though it was particularly informal, this kind of lesson-building and on-the-fly teaching became the experience I needed. I now have a great position at ASU's Global Launch, where I teach English as a second language to international students.”
Evans' experience also meant a lot to him on a more personal level, allowing him to appreciate Romanian language and literature in a way that he would not have been able to without this experience. He notes that “the literature of Romania is constantly challenging and reinventing Western critical lenses; it is a living literature that reacts and reclaims the human experience.” Evans believes that Romanian literature is something that all students of literature should read and embrace.
Reflecting on his experience, Evans says that it was a chance he will never forget. “Students come from all over the world to study in Romania,” he says, “and being able to engage these individuals was a privilege.”
Image 1: Matthew Evans in Romania. / Courtesy photo.
Image 2: A Romanian 'skyline': view of the spire of the Lutheran Cathedral Church in Sibiu, Romania. / Photo by Matthew Evans.
Image 3: Evans captured this colorful procession of Romanian laborers protesting illegal logging practices by the company Holtzindustrie Schweighofer. Evans narrates the scene: "The sentiment among Romanians, particularly Romanian laborers (these men, by their dress, conform to either a career in manual labor or they are what is sweetly called 'ciobani' or shepherds, really meaning something less offensive than hillbilly) is that companies, in general and not only this particular German company, abuse the Romanian parliament's ease of access, by which I mean bribery. Not necessarily open bribery, but not just campaign donations. Every year new members and political leaders are arrested on these kinds of charges, so Romania is not afraid to take a very open stance. . . . These men marched loudly through the streets, on the road with cars, disrupting traffic, and not a fuss was made. It was welcomed. No one intervened, but some joined in." / Photo by Matthew Evans