In its 22 year-old history of Active Brothers SRL (formerly known as Puer Pro Scola Srl) has been actively involved in building cultural and educational exchange bridges between Romania and the United States. How challenging is to have such an important and constructive role, to spread such values and to provide opportunities for people of different cultures to come together to learn and explore new ways of life?
Puer Pro Scola SRL (in Latin language: the student for the school) was founded by my parents in 1994. They have learned about this opportunity from a friend of theirs who was a representative in Hungary and they wanted also a representative in Romania. Puer Pro Scola was the first company in Romania offering cultural exchange programs for high school students. In the era of communism visiting another country was almost impossible and after the regime changes more and more students felt the need for studying abroad and to return to their home countries with new skills and ideas. In 2010 my parents gave me the company and I changed the name because I wanted a more dynamic sound and I wanted to start a new brand. That is how we have all together 22 years of experience.
Every year it is challenging to “convince” students to travel abroad for an academic year or a semester. But to tell you the truth what we do is that we inform students about this great opportunity by doing presentations in high schools. After the presentation and after they visit our website they are the ones together with their parents who decide if they sign up for this program. Once they do, and participate in the program we guarantee that they will not regret it and they will have the best year in their life.
What’s your organization’s vision, mission statement and philosophy?
Our goal is to provide our students with a unique experience that will last for a lifetime and we, together with our partner organization, offer them the chance to improve their English language skills from which they can benefit in the future. Besides all this we know that someone who will spend more time abroad will become more mature, more independent and will have a different perception on life. Multicultural experience helps us to understand different ways of life and will lead to higher levels of tolerance and understanding.
Since its inception in 1994, the Romanian representation has built an impressive portfolio of successful exchange programs that have put their imprint on hundreds of persons: either students, either members of host families as a result of these cultural interactions, that have shaped friendships for life, irrespective of geographic distances. How huge is the Romanian cultural exchange program family? I am curios to find out statistics in terms of number of students and host families who will remain friends for life?
Since its inception in 1994, with the help of our company, over 200 kids have studied in the United States. Yearly and average of 6 to 12 kids have had the chance to travel to the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. We are on the way of gathering pictures and opinions of our former exchange students and we will publish an exchange student book soon that will be available online for everyone to enjoy.
Why do parents from Romania chose Active Brothers SRL to put the destiny of their children in the hands of your team?
We always work to improve our services from the beginning of the sign up process all the way to the end, when our students return home. First of all we work with one of the top organizations in the United States and they have over 42 years of experience in field of the cultural exchange programs. We have 22 years of experience in this field and the references are only positive and we have many students with outstanding stories to share. Our former exchange students recommend the program to their friends and since firsthand experience counts the most, that is how we grow and that is the reason why parents trust us with the destiny of their kids.
A history of over 22 years of successful activity in working with students is rather difficult to be presented in only one interview. However, there are representative landmarks that could be mentioned when such a discussion about the key of success is open. Could you mention just a few such landmarks that define Active Brothers’ visit card when it comes to speak about reasons that make you proud as Executive of such a successful company?
Our company is basically the trampoline for the students. When they decide to jump, we open the gate of possibilities to them. The reason why we say “possibilities” is because they can have access to more possibilities in the US than here in Romania. A US High School is more modern, better equipped and more interactive. Together with our American partner we send students to the USA, but it depends only on them what can they make out of their exchange year. We had numerous students who have been offered scholarships and they went back to study at an American university. Other students opened international businesses, some of them are married in the US, some of them were working for NASA and others simply just came home and enjoyed all the language benefits in the job market by getting hired to international companies.
ERDT is represented in Romania by Active Brothers Srl, based in Oradea, which has been acting so professional for years to promote here the educational offers of the US organization. But also, being very involved in supporting and guiding young Romanian students to participate in exchange programs.
What is the balance sheet of this partnership so far between the ERDT/Share and SC Active Brothers from Oradea? How many Romanian students have had this wonderful opportunity to temporarily live and study in America, an experience that brings them not only added value to their academic background, but also to their general development as persons?
Active Brothers works hard each year to recruit students for this international cultural exchange program. It is hard to get the information to every single student but since 2010 we have sent 32 kids in the US to study. In the academic year 2016/17 we have students 9 students studying in the States and they are from Bucharest, Miercurea Ciuc, Odorheiu Secuiesc, Targu Mures, Cluj Napoca, Oradea and Budapest. In the past we have had kids from almost every major city from Romania. Between 1994 and 2010 my parents were working with different organizations in the US and that is how we have managed to send over 200 kids in the US in 22 years.
ERDT recently visited Romania with a significant delegation of US coordinators. What was the purpose of this visit and what impressions has this visit here left you?
It has been an honor to host the 2016 Incentive Trip for the ERDT representatives. Each year ERDT visits together with a small group of its coordinators a partner organization worldwide and in 2016 it was the time for them to visit Romania. They have asked me if I would be willing to organize their trip and of course I said yes. It was an awesome 5 days that I spent together with these wonderful people from all over the US and I got to know them personally. It was a good to see and to meet in person with the people who are responsible for placing the kids who we send to study abroad. I managed to organize for them a visit to the Parliament Palace in Bucharest, we held a presentation in Mihai Viteazul High School and in the other days we have visited the Peles Castle, Brasov and the Brand Castle. I believe that in those short 5 days I got to share with them a little bit about our culture, food and way of life.
What expectations have let you the discussions that you had here in Romania with ERDT, from the point of view of increasing the educational exchanges between this country and the United States?
We hope that in the future we can recruit more students not just for the academic year program but for the other programs as well. We constantly try to inform school principals, English teachers and parents about this opportunity so in the future everyone will know that these type of programs exist and those who participate will not regret it and will have a once in a lifetime experience.
What are the Active Brothers’ ambitions and plans for the future, having in mind the achievements and lessons learned in these 22 years of activity in this noble field of shaping humans destinies through education?
We will keep providing these cultural exchange programs to students and their families as long as the programs will exist because we know the benefits of them. As a former exchange student I can say that it is a truly life changing experience and if you access our website you can read the experiences of our other students. Education is really important because only with an open mind we can reach our goals and we need perspective in order to do that. To gain perspective one need to travel. Life is short and this program as I mentioned at the beginning of the interview can be a trampoline to something unique and outstanding.
My recommendation to the students is the following: “Get out of your comfort zone and be part of this once in a lifetime experience!”