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Life & Work with Oana Andrei

Today we’d like to introduce you to Oana Andrei.

Hi Oana, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
I began writing my story around the age of 15-16 when I realized that my world, or at least how I have always envisioned it, was about helping people, getting involved, and making a difference at the bottom. Therefore, my story starts with volunteering work left and right, in very different areas: from sports events to children’s care, from management skills to kindness, from crazy crowds to meaningful ones on one.

That was my process of finding myself, what I loved to do, what I cared most about, and what I was passionate about and I was and still am so grateful that some people gave me the opportunity and trusted a 16year old with tasks beyond my imagination. I had plenty of activities all year round where I met new people, discovered new talents that I had, and most importantly I got to see a smile on somebody else’s face.

This all happened in Romania, my home country, a land of almost 19 million people in East Europe. At only 17 years old, I was already being referred to as a coordinator around some of the teams I worked with in different events, so I was also recognized as a hard worker, and that wasn’t all. Little did I know, that I would be nominated at that time, and also won a Forbes Kids award, in its first edition, for my volunteering work.

That was, I can say now, the first time that I realized that I could do even more. I continued my work since then, in different areas, more integrated towards the bachelor’s degree that I chose to study, International Relations. During that time I helped start a cultural NGO that has the mission of explaining artifacts and bringing them closer to people through stories and memories, combining history with my passion for helping people in the terms of informing them and relating to them through their similar history.

One thing that I have always believed is that I could become a truly involved person, involved in helping people, in different cultures, involved in my studies, in what I believe in, and in society, even if it would be on a small scale. But to get there, I had to take every opportunity life threw at me and go with it. When I realized that, I also figured that I had to get a broader image of the society we live in.

At that point, I was already very familiar with the European way of life, but I wanted to also know the American side of things. This is how the story was brought to the present, moving around the world to live in Tampa and to study for my Master’s degree, also get involved in the community, and make myself heard because I know I have a kind voice that could help even a person out there.

I made myself, and every story that I lived through available on social media and I am currently working on the next part of my story.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
One of everyone’s biggest struggles is always time and I share that to an extent. I always wanted to do more, to make myself available to everyone that needed me, to get involved in multiple projects, and also to become open to every cultural opportunity that I had.

But time only taught me that choosing one, the best for you at that time is fine too. Spreading yourself too thin will only make your product as a person less valuable in some situations. Another struggle would be covid although it has also helped me connect with myself more and develop that social media platform now.

It also gave me the time to get involved in starting that NGO with other ladies and a University professor. But on the negative side, made me take a step back from the actual volunteering work that was so desperately needed.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I see volunteering work as necessary. And I got involved as soon as I realized that fact. I was only 15 and I was helping people instead of acting like a normal high schooler.

I was very strict with myself too, and I still am, which I think differentiates me from others. I never sat behind a desk discussing the problems that for example small kids with limited resources have, I went out and I found a place where they needed immediate help, even if that meant a partner to draw with.

And I have never taken a break from that, it transformed as I progressed as a person in different things: making people aware of their similar history or showing people, remembering the memories from a time in their lives.

Now helping people decide if international relations is what they are looking for through my social media platform and also make them aware of things happening around the world.

What matters most to you? Why?
My words and my power mean the most to me.

I would not say freedom of speech, because I do not see that as black and white, there are different types and it means different things to different people, but I would say that the power of a word and the power of information can change someone’s perspective completely.

I always like to say that my accounts are a visual diary of the world at my age because it is. I like the raw, the vulnerable, the deep historic stories about a place or a nation and I like to use my words and my vision to make everyone see that

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Image Credits
Forbes Kids First Edition,  Exceptionalii Event, and Asociatia Scoala de Valori

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