(By Tibor Hartel)
I was born and raised in Sighisoara (Segesvár, Schäßburg) and a small village near this town, called Székelypipe. After graduating university I come back to ‘my’ town and home area. Since then I have worked here as biology teacher (for 10 years) and biologist.
As a researcher, I am interested in amphibian ecology and conservation in Southern Transylvania. More recently, I have also become interested in other topics such as landscape ecology and social-ecological systems (here the influence of Ioan Fazey and Joern Fischer has been strong).
For a long time my only contact with the ‘western world’ was the internet (used mostly to request papers). I was never particularly interested in visiting foreign countries, and my first trip abroad with a fellowship was quite recently: in 2009 (to National Museum of Natural History – Naturalis, Leiden, Netherlands), then in 2010 (back to Naturalis). I must admit that initially other persons like Dan Cogalniceanu and Pim Arntzen wanted me to go on these trips more than me – but now I am grateful to them for their insistence! The few visits I made ‘abroad’ increased my attachment for the Saxon landscapes of Transylvania. This was so obvious that Pim Arntzen called Sighisoara Tibisoara. Now my visits to western European countries increase in their frequency. I now like the visits because they are short.
For a very long time, my only contact with ‘academia’ in Romania was Professor Dan Cogalniceanu, my PhD supervisor. Given the overall conditions of academia in this country, I consider this a positive aspect (somehow in the line: isolation results in speciation…). Since 2009 I have been involved in teaching at Babes Bolyai University in Cluj Napoca, an activity I greatly enjoy.
Many things have changed in the past 10 years in this area. Since I am mostly an optimistic person, I will give some positive examples: the many nongovernmental organizations like Mihai Eminescu Trust (my ‘host’) and the ADEPT foundation. These organisations are real outliers in the NGO landscape of Romania, in a very positive sense. There are also a lot of other wonderful and good people (mostly outside of academia) interested in doing good things for this region: for nature and people. True, their job is not easy but I like to see that they are more and more efficient and start to get connected…and a network is developing. The research project lead by Professor Joern Fischer is among the many good things happening to this area: a needed new approach, and mentality to understand these social-ecological systems in Southern Transylvania.
With all these and many other initiatives going on in my home area, I feel I am a lucky person.
Generally I feel that what we are somehow related to other people. In other words: it would be selfish to think that our successes are solely due our own efforts. And this is good. Some very important people and teams in my life: my parents, Alexandru Gota, Cosmin Moga, Kuno Martini, Dan Cogalniceanu, Joern Fischer and his team, Ioan Fazey, the colleagues and my pupils from the two schools (Mircea Eliade High School and the Miron Neagu General School) where I taught, the Mihai Eminescu Trust, the ADEPT Foundation and many others.
Ah…I almost forget it: I am seduced by the resilience theory (thanks to Joern and IoanJ)