Peace Corps Writers
Looking for Ben Franklin in Timisoara (page 2)
A Volunteer's life in Romania
page 1
page 2

     “When we got there, it was paradise for me. It was incredibly beautiful. These people seemed so rich, their houses so big, but they were nice to us. For the first time, we were treated like human beings, like normal people. I made great connections, new ideas. It was so exciting for me. Everyday was something new, like I had a new life.”
     Not long after, Dorel and his partners began importing floppy disks and started a computer training business. They tried many ideas in the next three years, most unsuccessful, but came to the conclusion that “people eat.” They opened up 3+1 Pizzeria, so named after original partners plus a new one, on a busy street in central Timisoara. Pizza did not exist in Romania before the Revolution, so people gobbled it up — and still do. His little restaurant, smaller than some living rooms I’ve seen in America, cranks out a few hundred pizzas daily. Ironically, because of seemingly endless red tape and widespread corruption, he believes it is harder to start a business now in Romania than it was during the years immediately after Communism.

     Along this journey, he sought out American and other Western books, devouring The One Minute Manager and other self-help business guides. He befriended previous Peace Corps Volunteers, and another American development worker, who’s now in Mongolia, has been a steady and trusted mentor for him. His daughter, Ioana, now attends law school in San Francisco. He has great affinity for America.
     But it is Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography, which Dorel has read 13 times in the past 30 years, that guides him daily – in his marriage, friendships, the restaurant and his work in international development.
“If you understand Benjamin Franklin, then you know how people in the United States think even today. More honesty than other places. A strong work ethic — this notion does not exist in Romania. Have you ever even heard the words ‘work ethic’ in Romania?”
     In 1994, Dorel was the grateful recipient of a grant to visit the United States as a businessman from a developing region. “I didn’t believe that I was going until the plane’s engines started,” he remembers. “It was a big moment for me.”
He traveled to several cities, met with a number of business people and consultants, but also toured scores of pizza restaurants, where he specifically observed processes and equipment. He likes to show off his kitchen’s ventilation system, which is modeled after one he first saw in America — he took copious notes and made measurements with his arms and footsteps. Naturally, he remembers his first impressions at the airport in Philadelphia, a city he was excited to see because of Mr. Franklin.
     “The guy who greeted me was so nice, but I was suspicious of him. “We were taught to be suspicious, because if you weren’t, you could lose your life. I thought about it later, what a wonderful feeling it is to always trust people, to always have trust. But you only have that when you are free.”
Before joining the Peace Corps, Andy Trincia was a corporate communications executive in the financial services industry. Sworn in on August 16, 2002, he is working as a business consultant for the Chamber of Commerce in Timisoara, Romania. We have asked Andy to file reports for the next two years of what his life is like working and living in Romania.
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