challenging, awe-inspiring, admirable and
are just some of the words and phrases this year’s Educational
Challenge team used to describe their
team was made up of 13 excited teachers from the UK, plus the
Educational Advisor, Stephen Woodward, and Cristina Popescu, Smiles
Mission Organiser. Together we embarked on a 3-day trip to take part
in the fifth Educational Challenge.
The programme included visits to the
Tileagd Gypsy Community
and the children’s homes, lesson observations and the opportunity to
engage in teaching and learning activities with the children. The
children enjoyed a wide range of practical, creative activities in
subjects such as Art, Design Technology, Puppetry, PE and Mathematics.
children had lots of fun and so did we. We also spent a fabulous
afternoon celebrating ‘Children’s
- beginning with some of the groups making sandwiches with the team
and ending in fun and games galore in the basking sunshine.
It is also fair to say that both the Romanian and UK teachers
treasured the opportunity to have professional dialogue and share good
practice. It seems kids really are similar the world over!
Visits to the Barrage Community and the Homeless of Oradea brought a
very real, heart-wrenching dimension to the experience. This served to
provide an insight into reality of the situations where Smiles strives
to improve the quality of life for the marginalised in society – and
cases the homes of some of the children who attend the school. All of
us were moved and inspired by this aspect of the Foundation’s work.
A regular Educational Challenger said,
‘It is always good to visit friends - and in the Tileagd community
there are so many. The promotion and evidence of love, respect and
trust make Tileagd an inspiring place to be. The vision for the future
is walked and talked daily. My admiration for the team has risen
again. Each time I return I hope to give a little of myself, but know
I receive so much in ideas and ideals. The challenges are evident and
also it is clear that every visitor faces challenges. I feel honoured
to be a small part of making a difference to the children here.
The experience continues to make a difference to me.’
One of the team summed up her trip beautifully,
really hit me by day three, thinking
these beautiful, intelligent and loving children would be missing
out on so many opportunities if it wasn't for the work of Smiles -
and even writing about it brings a lump to my throat. The warmth and
love within that school has touched my heart, the teachers are an
absolute inspiration. Their love and commitment, along with a
structure that works, allows the children to feel safe and to develop.’
Another team member commented,
is amazing how much has been done and is being done to improve the
quality of life for such a small community, starting with the basics
in education as well as health and well being. Having the chance to go
on the Educational Challenge was extremely welcomed and I am so happy
I did it.’
you up for a life-changing, perspective-altering challenge?
We look forward to welcoming you to Romania, to Smiles and to Tileagd.
If you work in Education,
join us on the next
A Challenger’s Report on the Challenge.
For details on next years Challenge, please email