The Right Conductor by Cristina Damian

Adina is 21 years old, is a wife, mother and student in the 2nd year at the Faculty of Sociology and Social Work within the University Babeș-Bolyai from Cluj. She has grown up in a gipsy nation and, from six brothers, only she together with an elder sister have come to the faculty.

16th August 2014.
I speed up the pace in order to meet an ex – classmate. If I could take off my beige sandals and I could put my feet on the asphalt they would melt.

Although I have been many times at the door of the flat where Adina used to live until now, I haven’t seen anything else except for the main hall and the door which faced another hall, and this only among other things, before being said to me by the Doctor, the person who from 2003 promised to take care of her. After 10 years after finishing the middle school, today I am entering for the first time in the house of my only classmate of gypsy ethny from the primary & middle school. Simple, but furnished in taste, her room is a pure white.

There are 10 years since I have met her. I was the ‘’lucky girl’’ who the elementary teacher with red hair chose her to sit in a desk with the new classmate. When she entered the classroom, all the looks were fixed upon her. All of them, except mine. She was new, and I was scared, without knowing why. We were 10-11 years old together and she didn’t do anything frightening.

Today, dressed in jeans, sandals with a digit, and a brown blouse with a deep low cut neck, Adina remained the same gleeful girl with her hair having the colour of chestnuts and thick eyebrows as a pencil that I used to know, the perfect combination of introvert & extrovert.
It was the school year 2003 – 2004, and Adina was the pupil of the Primary & Middle School no. 4 „Tudor Panfile” from Bârlad. She felt uncomfortable because of the fact that her home situation didn’t allow her to show up being always clean at school and, as a consequence, even the teachers used to behave consequently. The situation of possible repeat from the 2nd semester of the 2nd grade determined taking her into a foster home of Adina by the association „the Queen’s Heart” from Bârlad.

When Adina went for the first time clean at school and was the same as the rest of the pupils, was the moment in which she was aware that her life changed. It was her lucky moment which, not very long ago she could not even imagine herself.
Her taking into fostering did not produce Adina changes only in her home life, where she was still surprised that on the table in front of her there were two kinds of dishes, plus dessert, and her clothes and shoes were new. Her taking into fostering brought the chance to Adina to become a pupil in the 4th grade of the Music School Fine Arts „N. N. Tonitza”, where some other relatives of hers were studying.

Although she takes part of a gipsy nation, Adina’s family did not keep the specific traditions and not even the ‘’Romani’’ language was not the first language spoken in the house. Due to the stereotype according to which if you speak Romani language you are not welcomed, in which her mother strongly believed, Romani language is a strange language to Adina, excepting for a few words heard by chance in the house. A sister, two flatmates and the Doctor were Adina’s family, because the family from home meant a small room without electricity with the entrance door being broken. However this thing didn’t stop Adina to have different conflicts with the doctor: „I was happy … you know but I was thinking about my parents, too. I missed them! I wanted to see my parents too; especially that I had the other two little, too… you can’t forget them so easily. She didn’t want to keep in touch (with the family), not because she didn’t want that anymore, but she didn’t want us to go to that place again. But you realize, you cannot forbid to a child to go to his/her parents. When we used to go, we went in secret.” Now, the people with whom she keeps in touch are her father, with whom she speaks constantly, and her elder sister. Because her mother doesn’t have a phone, they speak only on holidays.

Adina realized that she doesn’t have too many connections with the music, so that in the 2nd semester of the 6th grade she transferred to another middle school from Bârlad: School no. 8. The chance was that her new classmates be excellent pupils, the majority of them among the first places at the Romanian National Olympics. She didn’t give up and she has always worked harder to keep her position, not only for school, but also for her new home. She didn’t want to come back where she was before.

In this way she reached in the grade with the profile Natural History of the National College „Gheorghe Roșca Codreanu”, Bârlad. In April 2012, at the end of 11th grade, she got pregnant. Marius Spiridon Grigore was born not long before Christmas, and since then she is Adina’s miracle.
Adina 2

Adina took her little boy to the high school someday. Her classmates were exited, and even the teachers reacted positively at Adina’s whole situation. Nobody accused her of becoming a mother in the 12th grade and nobody even tried to make her feel uncomfortable due to this fact. And this because Adina proved to be dedicated and tenacious.

Her leaving from the biological family had good parts and bad parts as well, thinks Adina. In fostering she followed a strict program, but which helped her for later to organize her time and realize the importance of eating and sleeping at fixed times. When she wasn’t allowed to go out, to have fun with her classmates or sisters, Adina felt treated unjustly. But when at school managed to take only marks of 9 & 10 at Maths tests had a greater satisfaction than she thinks it could have brought her a four-hour walk in the city.

Adina is grateful that she had the chance of an education of good quality, but she also misses the education of 7 years from home. „We are short – tempered, we didn’t have those 7 years from home! Even if we were here educated by the Lady Doctor. But those 7 years from home do not exist. I came here when I was 10. So those 7 years from home were destroyed.”

Except for the period of the first two or three primary classes, she never felt discriminated, but she felt many reserves. From the moment when at home had the possibility to take care of herself, automatically her school marks were improved; „If you are educated, you are not discriminated. But there are some people that see this as well. «Hey, look, he is a gypsy and he talks like everybody and he thinks he is important». But we were never discriminated or to happen not to be respected. Why do you think we learn well? We were clean and neat. […] Now it depends on every person. At the faculty I didn’t meet any person who thought «Hey, you are educated, so I don’t discriminate you». I wasn’t discriminated, God forbid it.”

Legally married still from the 11th grade, Adina is today a mother and a student. She lives with her husband & son in a bachelor flat in one of the hostels of the University Babeș-Bolyai. She wakes up at 6.00 am, she takes her little boy to the nursery school, then she goes to university, where she stays until about 3.00 or 4.00 pm, she comes back for Marius to take him and the rest of the day is divided between studying and her duties as a mother and wife.

Even like this, she successfully passed into the 2nd year of faculty and she has big plans for the Master’s degree and a job in the field. She is enthusiastic when she talks about the future, where she already sees herself in the „workforce”. The practice in the evidence service, which deals with the convicted, made Adina work even harder. She says that instead of being sent to prison somebody, it’s better to put him/her to graduate the high school, that it’s not even a punishment, but a positive thing.

During this summer, the lady who took care of Adina since she was taken into fostering, bought them, her and her family, a house in the countryside, near Focșani. In the future, she would also like to help them with a flat in Focșani, for Marius to have a good education.
All these things keep Adina’s motivation to study. When she sees that everything is in harmony in life, is determined to continue. To go even higher, especially that she has around her the people whom she loves best.


While we were colleagues, I was marked deeply that Adina was a religious person. She used to tell us even at that time, and she reminded me even now that, at 7:00, when it was still light, she climbed the bed kneeling and read in a loud voice for about an hour the prayers book that she had. Towards the end she used to pray that God should not take her anything from what she had then (food, cleaning, water), but, the most important thing, she thanked God. She says that she doesn’t know what exactly made her interrupt this „ritual”. „I think I got used to the good side, I don’t know it myself. But you know that saying: look even behind you!”

Adina was always respectful and she says that this helped her many times to take home things and food for her little sisters. She feels proud that she is at this level, although she had a difficult life. And she doesn’t want to stop – she always wants more of herself.

For Adina education has a very great importance and weight in the eyes of every human being to whom you tell him/her that „I am a person with faculty studies, right?” she says that the Master’s degree is a high level of education, that helps you a lot if you want to be employed somewhere, but only if you are hired on the finished field of study, not at doughnuts („[…] to be employed somewhere, somewhere where it is nice, not at pastry shop. I stay and prepare doughnuts. Why is the faculty necessary when I stay and prepare doughnuts?”).

This article can be read even here: