Romina Matei

Values, not products

Romina Matei

Austria / Romania

At first, crossing one border felt like travelling to another galaxy, now crossing many borders feels like home

Growing up in 1990s Romania, it was not easy to be an optimist or to believe in positive change.

When growing up, I never considered myself a young person with fewer opportunities. Despite being the first person in my family to graduate from a university, I cannot say my career path was exactly easy at any point, but SALTO influenced it from the early beginning.

While studying at University in Timisoara, I volunteered at the Intercultural Institute Timisoara  which is a local NGO, and this is how I found my way to my first European youth event. It was not a SALTO event ‘proper’, but the Bulgarian NGO that hosted it worked with SALTO Inclusion materials and this is how I first came across SALTO. I cannot say the event went well for me – I felt very homesick. I was far away from home (even though it was just across the border) and I don’t think I fully understood what was going on.

Non-formal learning was new to me and even after coming back home, I did not immediately realise what impact the experience had had on me. It took me several months to realise that I wanted to change my life because of this particular event.

This is part of the ‘magic of non-formal learning’, we will never know how many lives we changed. We do know non-formal learning has a huge potential to change people’s lives, but we cannot always witness the change as it happens over a longer period of time.

And so one non-formal learning experience led to another, and I became active in a European youth network (Youth Express Network), and then decided to become a trainer. As I become more and more involved in international youth work, SALTO has always been like a ‘fairy land’, where magical potions with life-changing potential were made. When therefore a job opening at the newly created SALTO ESC Resource Centre came up, I did not think twice before applying for it.

I believe SALTO has a particular role in bringing people together across Europe. T

There are many youth organisations, many NA events, but SALTO adds another dimension to this work, because it creates spaces where everyone comes together on the same level, NGOs, youth, NAs, the European Commission and many others. I really appreciate SALTO’s focus on learning processes and on the values behind everything we do, and it is why I want to build a world of values – not products.

Connection to SALTO:

Romina is a Project Manager at SALTO ESC Resource Centre

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