Formal Opening of the Third Annual Conference of Romanian American Professionals
NURTURING RESILIENCE THROUGH THE PANDEMIC
THIRD CONFERENCE OF ROMANIAN AMERICAN PROFESSIONALS
Opening Plenary Session: June 4th 2021
Immigration Research Forum organized the Third Conference of Romanian American Professionals, on June 4th and 5th 2021 as a nation-wide virtual diaspora gathering that took stock of developments within our dispersed diaspora hubs and specifically within the five academic and professional interdisciplinary councils established since 2019: Arts and Culture; Legal Counseling, Development and Public Policy; Medicine and Public Health; STEM and IT; Community Civic Engagement and Social Entrepreneurship. The purposes of the IRF are research, educational and civic action focused, devoted to fostering an in-depth understanding of the factors which promote the successful integration and upward social mobility of immigrants within our ‘nation of nations.’
The annual conference themed “Nurturing Resilience Through the Pandemic,” featured speakers who provided an overview of the evolution of our interdisciplinary "communities of practice," the many efforts of various knowledge networks that underpin the associative ecosystem of the entire Romanian American diaspora. Presenters focused on the adaptability of our peer and mentoring platforms designed to foster the true potential of the best and brightest members of our national community. IRF invited remarkable diaspora professionals in each field to present on the institutional and personal efforts that helped create a concerted support for the affirmation of our cultural identity and varied contributions to American society.
The annual nation-wide gathering is an occasion to honor and highlight the service, leadership, and achievements of remarkable public figures whose prestige in public office or through commendable careers shapes the positive standing and perception of our diaspora. Participation in the five councils is devised as “focus group” sessions tasked with identifying resources, expertise, best practice models and innovative programs as well as in inducting outstanding leaders to be assumed and valued. They are asked to analyze the current needs of dispersed communities served as we adapt to current challenges and opportunities within out host society and globally.
The scope of this annual exercise in civic cohesion is to catalyze a common support strategy for those vulnerable amongst us and promote the true potential of the best and brightest minds in our midst. The shared belief is that this diaspora intellectual capital can be an influential and effective powerhouse in public diplomacy exercises, underpinning strategic transatlantic ties between our native and host countries.
In the opening session, the founding president of the IRF and host of the conference, Teodor Stan remarked on the nature of our highly interconnected and interdependent world, which while brimming with opportunities, does not truly afford anyone the option of fully insulating from catastrophes spilling across borders. In this stressed environment of rapid change, personal coping mechanisms and group strategies become critical vectors of natural selection. Fortunately, there are ethical intervention techniques, studies and supporting literature that suggests acquiring resilience is a learnt behavior not an innate personal or cultural characteristic. During the 2020 pandemic experience IRF implemented several interventions promoting cohesion, solidarity, and trust amongst diaspora institutional stakeholders both in the nation’s capital and virtually with regional partners. The signature annual event “Celebrating outstanding Romanian American women in the arts and sciences” is one such recurring public event that acknowledges the tremendous contributions of women diaspora leaders, the importance of these matrons at the heart of our national diaspora’s cultural affirmation.
The Second Annual Conference implemented in June 2020 during “Immigrant Heritage Month” also marked 140 years of US-Romanian diplomatic relations and unfolded as a first national virtual diaspora conference at a time of great national anxiety with regards to racial injustice and the vitriolic polarization of American society on the treatment of migrants, all amid isolationist measures imposed by the pandemic. That second conference offered the historic opportunity of acting as a baseline assessment in the adaptative leadership and resilience of dispersed diaspora hubs within challenging times. It is a point of reference that allows us to look at the “silver linings” and the commendable adaptation of many diaspora platforms and initiatives, some of which thrived and raised to the moment expanding their reach and service. The evolution is evident in the growth and coordination of the professional councils. During the previous conference rapporteurs in the round-table break-out session committed the focus groups to holding recurring sessions. Several field specific council sessions were implemented in an effort to highlight initiatives worthy of national support and visibility. The evolution and efforts within each field was highlighted through presentations held during the second day of this year’s annual conference.
The first day of the conference was reserved to the national diplomatic corps, public diplomacy representatives, high-level serving dignitaries, honorary consuls as well as spokespersons representing the academic exchange grants funded through the joint efforts of the US Department of State and the European Union in engaging with scientific diasporas.