When the COVID-19 pandemic gained steam this spring, upending WPI’s global travel, the project directors and advisors for the Bucharest, Romania Project Center went into action, reimagining a global, project-based learning experience by immersing students in the sights, smells, and rich history of Romania without actually stepping on its soil.
“Our original hopes of taking our students to museums, churches, movies, and to meet people from Romania who live in the surrounding areas were quickly shattered,” said project co-director and Associate Teaching Professor Rodica Neamtu, computer science. “Thus, we had to become creative. We committed to give our cohort as much exposure to people from Romania, and to Romanian history, art, culture and spirit as Zoom calls would allow.”
Creative is an understatement
In addition to working on their Interactive Qualifying Projects (IQP) focusing on promoting eco-tourism, raising awareness on pollen allergies, saving urban green spaces, redesigning inter-generational learning centers, and promoting collaborations through the American Chamber of Commerce in Romania, students have sampled the country’s signature dishes, and hosted special guests via teleconferencing to discuss history, geography, art, and film. “We are constantly working to keep the teams focused and enthusiastic,” Neamtu said.