The Second Generation Project

A photo-essay competition for young Romanian Americans

What does it mean to belong to two cultures?
Share your story in up to 3 photos and feel empowered by your heritage.

Second Gen Is Making Headlines

Listen to a Radio Romania International interview with Gloria Man who talks about The Second Generation Project and the 2016 fall agenda for ARCS (content in Romanian).

The Finalists

1st Place - Tudor Muntianu

Henri Coanda, one of the most significant engineers in the 20th century, has a story parallel to mine, in a way. A product of excellence in Romanian education, his innovations in the field of jet propulsion made his work critical in developing jets all around the world. The discovery and use of the Coanda Effect in aviation ushered in an entirely new era of flight, one in which the world was more connected than ever before.

At this building our stories began to align. Both Coanda and his father worked at the Institute, where further innovations in aviation and transportation were engineered. They helped create the institutions of learning that allowed so many Romanians to build careers at home and abroad. My father, like Coanda, spent time at the Institute as a student, gaining the education which would help him fly in his own way. His ultimate destination: Seattle, Washington.

This is the first Boeing jet plane, built during WWII here in Seattle, powered by the jet engine made possible only by the developments generated by Henri Coanda. Just as Coanda’s engineering excellence made the trip to Seattle, so did my father due to his education, provided in part by the work of Coanda. Living here in Seattle, on the other side of the globe from my mother country, my Romanian culture is always close to me, but not always in the ways we might expect.

2nd Place - Jasmine Carabat

Eight years ago, on the last day of school, my family found out we won the U.S. Visa Lottery. We arrived 6 years ago and adjusted to the lifestyle here, but have always kept our family and religious traditions. Loving the pleasant atmosphere of Romanian gatherings, when we heard about “Festivalul Iei,” we quickly signed up. We dressed up in our “Ie” and attended the party. With traditional Romanian music, dancing, delicatessen, of course everyone had a wonderful time. At the end, we were all hesitant to leave as the next day, we will be returning to our busy, American lives. No doubt, I love living and being part of both cultures. It is the best of both worlds!

October 2015 came with our U.S. Citizenship, after 6 years of living in the U.S. My family dressed up and drove to Tukwila on a Tuesday morning. We had to go through formalities before entering the ceremony room, and waited until it began. Each person mouthed the Pledge of Allegiance with tears in their eyes while listening to the responsibilities that now we behold as citizens of the United States. Then the big moment arrived. Our parents got in line and walked on stage, shaking hands with the Immigration Officers and receiving their certificates. A moment like this does not happen very often. Now, we are proud to be Americans, but we will always bleed blue, yellow and red.

For my Social Studies project, I had to create a poster, displaying my Romanian heritage and culture. On the panels, I pasted pictures along with descriptions of my favorite traditional Romanian delicatessen, Romanian currency bills, Nadia Comăneci, “mărțișoare,” religious Icons, famous holidays, and authentic costumes. In the middle of the poster, I glued the map of Romania and pictures of national monuments. At the bottom, I wrote my family’s story of arriving in the U.S. All of my teachers were impressed with my hard work and in the end, I got an A+! The fact that my teachers and classmates saw how much I love my heritage and culture, was enough for me.

3rd Place - Stephen Cunningham

This photograph depicts my mother in the traditional Romanian outfit dancing in a show performed by "Datina's Folk Ensemble" . Being a Romanian-American it can be difficult to be culturally influenced by your heritage when you are living in a different country. Growing up my mother has always tried to get me to experience how it is to be a true Romanian and one of the ways she has done this it to take me to some of "Datina's Folk Ensemble" performances . After I experienced traditional dancing I can tell you that you will learn so much from just a few dances! Growing up between two different cultures means that you get the best of both worlds, through dances!!!

Honorable Mention - George Cretu

The villagers' cows make their way back to their homes after a day of grazing in the grassy hills; something culturally important to the authentic Romanian way of life dating back hundreds of years.

The same way our ancestors used to, a shepherd gathers up his grazing sheep in the beautiful Bucegi mountains before the rain arrives.

The happy bride and groom are being linked to each other through a Romanian wedding ritual. The traditional red scarf represents the couple being brought together forever.

Honorable Mention - Lorraine Polocoser

Education was made very important to me because of my parents, mainly my mother. It was engraved in me that I need to work hard and study well to earn a steady and profitable job. I think one of the main reasons my mother insists that I focus on my studies is that, back in Romania, school grew to be a very important aspect for her despite not many people caring. This lent to me the desire to put more effort into my work because, compared to my mother’s experience of education in Romania, I am presented with many more opportunities for school.

Singing and fellowship were a major part of my parents’ lives in Romania, and is now a part of my life as well. My family and I have spent many hours within the Romanian church practicing with the choir, learning new songs, and even singing for the fun of it. This aspect of Romania was carried over into my life in America. Fellowship is another factor from Romania my mother spoke to me of. Fellowship is still something maintained in the Romanian church through outings held at various locations that permit the congregation to essentially spend time together. My mother has ingrained in me the importance of song and fellowship, factors that can be used to benefit others.

Singing and fellowship were a major part of my parents’ lives in Romania, and is now a part of my life as well. My family and I have spent many hours within the Romanian church practicing with the choir, Throughout my life, I have heard many stories of what Romania was like from a variety of family members, mainly my parents. My mother told me of the beautiful landscape and how she grew up surrounded by vast, rolling hills and long, winding rivers. She also informed me of her visits to other cities around the country, where she went to see lovely sites and historic castles. This instilled in me a desire to be able to learn more about Romania’s history, and how its culture progressed into what it is today. Romania is a country rich in history, a history that is notably different from America’s and I hope to learn more about it in the future.

Honorable Mention - Alex Trufinescu

From almost any point in the village, you can see the high steeple of Sfintii Trei Ierarhi rising proudly above the other buildings, its metal-plated dome shining. This summer, I had the privilege of returning to this cherished place of worship to take part in a family ritual I had experienced for many years of my life. We entered the grounds and walked through the mass of headstones to where my great great grandfather, Gheorghe Paraschiv, a World War I veteran, was buried. Despite most of my memories and life residing in America, my culture and ancestry is Romanian, and returning to this ancient graveyard and paying my respects to passed family is my way to connect to that.

Honorable Mention - Josie Regus

This summer I went on a boat ride along the Mamaia beach and saw such a beautiful sunset.

From the sea, we drove through the mountains and one of the castles that we visited was the Peles castle.

When we came back to Seattle we went hiking with the family to Lake 22 trail and there was a beautiful view at the top with a lake.

The Award Ceremony

The Bellevue Library hosted our Awards Ceremony on October 1, 2016 and Photo Exhibit, October 1-16, 2016.

We thank all the participants in the 2016 competition.

2016 Contest Details

Are you a Romanian American, age 14-21, living in the Pacific Northwest?

Here's a great project for your summer break.

Why participate?

It's fun, easy, and rewarding.

  • You can earn: cash prizes/ gift cards/ photo software, and/or passes to the Seattle Romanian Film Fest, 2016.
  • If you’re a finalist, your work will be shown at Bellevue Library (October 1-16, 2016).
  • Your work will be exhibited on ARCS's website.
  • It’s an excellent project to boost your résumé for all those future college and grant applications.
  • You can become a mentor for next year's participants.


To enter the competition just follow these 3 steps:

  • Upload up to 3 photos that make you feel strong about your Romanian heritage.
  • Name each photo and briefly tell us its story. How is it linked to your dual cultural background?

Image file requirements:

  • Resolution: at least 3000px for the longer side.
  • File format: jpg (highest quality is recommended, mobile phone images are accepted)
  • File Size: no more than 20 MB.


Jun 24, 2016 (last day of school) - Submission Form opens
Sep 5, 2016 (Labor Day) - Submission Deadline
Oct 1, 2016 Awards Ceremony @ Bellevue Library (4:00-5.30pm)
Oct 1-16, 2016 Photo Exhibit @ Bellevue Library

Need inspiration?

Your submission can be as short as one photo and as long as a series of three photos.
Focus on telling a compelling STORY of what it means to grow up between two cultures: Romanian and American.

Here are some guidelines/examples:

  • You can highlight subjects (persons, objects, places, rituals, garments, foods and drinks, etc.) that you associate with the Romanian lifestyle in your family, home, and in your environment.
  • Activities that take place in your community are a great source of ideas. Think: family gatherings, celebrations, religious events, cooking and dining, etc.
  • Still life with objects or motifs that remind you of your heritage are another fountain of inspiration.
  • You can present similar subjects in contrast, one Romanian, one American. If you do, make sure you say how the subject relates to you and your heritage.
  • If you took pictures in Romania, you are welcome to include them. If you do, tell us why you chose these pictures and how they make you feel about your Romanian heritage.
  • Whatever you decide to submit, place emphasis on YOUR HERITAGE, YOUR STORY and YOUR EMOTIONS. This is how you draw the audience in.

Want more tips on photo-essays?

More tips on successful photo contest submissions

For examples of great photos with captions, check out the 2016 National Geographic student photo contest

Questions or comments? Drop us an email at

Terms and conditions

Support us!

ARCS Second Generation Project is a photography competition for young Romanian Americans living in the Pacific Northwest. The aim of the competition is to empower the young generation to take pride in their heritage. If you would like to support this project, ARCS welcomes donations to the competition’s awards fund and gala. We'd like to hear from you. Please contact us at