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Recalling Romania And Looking Ahead

Recalling Romania And Looking AheadTufts graduate and Peace Corps volunteer Trent Ruder is back from a two-year trip to Romania, where he made a meaningful impact on some college students’ lives.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [08.26.05] Trent Ruder knows how tough it can be to make a mark on the world. He learned that lesson firsthand when, fresh out of college, his desire to make a difference landed him in Romania - where the Peace Corps volunteer had grand visions of changing a vast number of people’s lives for the better.

“You go in thinking in two years you can save the world in some small way,” he said in a recent interview with the Vail Daily. “You leave realizing that saving the world is really hard.”

The 2002 Tufts graduate figured out early during his endeavor that he had set out on too idealistic a mission. Recognizing that one person can only do so much, he began to focus his efforts on a select group of individuals who could influence change throughout their communities.

“I want to help the people who want to move forward because those people help everyone,” Ruder told the Daily. “Those are the ones who innovate. Those are the ones who change. Those are the ones who drive us forward.”

While in Romania, Ruder quickly realized that, as a foreigner, he needed allies – young people from the area who could promote his ideas to their peers. He collaborated mostly with members of student organizations in the university community Alba Iulia.

According to the Daily, he helped student-run groups in the Transylvania town become better organized by writing grants for office supplies and setting up communication seminars. He also created a freshman orientation class for a university and developed an internship program to give students an opportunity to gain practical work experience.

Alina Ighanian, a member of a local university group, became one of the dedicated supporters Ruder refers to as “diamonds,” according to the Daily.

“The Romanian and the American systems and way of living are totally different,” Ighanian explained to the newspaper. “And it is very hard to copy something in another country and to adjust it to your own.”

But, Ruder rose to the challenge, Ighanian told the Daily.

“He always tried to develop all kinds of programs that would make the students more active and more involved,” she said. “He was a motivating factor for our organization.”

Ruder, who is now back in his hometown of Vail, Colo., hopes to make a return trip to Romania soon, according to the Daily, to continue to make a difference abroad – one handful of people at a time.











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