Miss Union and League 2006-2008

Elena Blebea

Elena Blebea, Miss Union and League 2006-2008

Essay By Elena Blebea

The fast-paced Romanian music filled me with joy as my feet skipped in the pattern of the traditional circle dance. I was only four years old, but as I danced and ate mititei at the Union and League convention, I knew and loved my Romanian heritage. As I have grown up, my heritage has come to mean more than just these Romanian activities and is a source of pride, a sense of family, and a shared history.

In my room, there hangs a Romanian flag. Every morning when I wake up, I see it and am reminded of who I am and where I came from. Many other students at my school are unaware or unconcerned about their heritage. Yet I have always been proud to be Romanian because it is my identity. To me, being Romanian means being strong, dignified, hardworking, and sociable. Most people who know me know that I am Romanian and it is an aspect that distinguishes me from the majority. I am always proud to tell people about the country of Romania including the fact that Romanian is the fourth Romance language. I know that I am an American, but my heritage is Romanian and it will never be forgotten or disregarded.

My Romanian heritage also means family. First, it has defined my own family. My grandparents immigrated to the US in 1963 with my father and my aunt. They toiled to earn a living, educate their children, and learn a new language. Although they assimilated well into American culture, they are still Romanian. Their mindset, values, religion, traditions and food are still Romanian. When I visit my grandparents, I look forward to church services at Saint Nicholas Romanian Orthodox Church in Alliance,Ohio, hearing stories about the village of Ileni and, of course, eating sarmale. However, not only does my heritage mean family in the sense of immediate family, but also in the sense of the larger family of the Romanian community. Every time I go to the Union and League Convention, I always feel welcomed by the people. There is an affability and feeling of community that I cherish. If I am meeting people and learn that they are Romanian, I feel as though we are kindred spirits. This feeling is strengthened when I see things such as the publication "America" which reports Romanian news both in the US and across the worl. The newspaper will print baby pictures, anniversaries, and recipes from Romanian families across the US and Canada. It is as if all of the Romanians are family even if they do not personally know each other. The Romanian heritage is a common bond that unites and preserves the Romanian community in America.

Finally, my heritage has meant history. When I turned sixteen, I received a traditional Romanian costume over one hundred years old. I was in awe as I admired the handiwork and the Romanian traditions that have been in existence for hundreds of years. Being Romanian means having a foundation to build upon, because there is such a rich history and past that can help guide me into the future. When I visit Romania this summer, I will see the village where my grandparents grew up and my father spent eight years. I look forward to appreciating the history of my family and seeing the roots of my heritage.

As I grow older, many things about my life are beginning to change. I will be starting college this year and will be living in a new society with new friends and new surroundings. However, there is one thing about my life that will remain the same forever - my Romanian heritage. The pride, family, and history that this heritage provides has influenced me more than an essay can describe and for that I am truly grateful.


Miss Union and League 2004-2006

Bianca Holtier