You know that moment when you’re out on vacation and someone (invariably, there is always, but always, at least one Someone each vacation) asks you:
“Hey, where are you from?”
And you say: “Hey, I’m from Romania”.
And the Someone says: “Oh, Armenia, that’s nice!”
And you say, “No, not Ar-menia. Ro-mania!”.
The Someone looks confused, that’s what he also said, right?
So you spell it: RU-MEI-NI-IA.
The Someone still looks puzzled.
You try a different spelling: RU-MA-NIIIA.
Only then the Someone lightens all up: “Oh, Hagi, Nadia, Dracula!”.
This (funny at first, annoying at last) recurrent happening, recently bumped into my head while strolling on the Armenian Street of the very Romanian city of Iasi, on my way to the Pentalog Iasi offices. Leaving aside the stamp most of the foreigners seem to notice on our foreheads, I was wondering why always Hagi, Nadia, Dracula? What about Țăndărică, Deleanu, Pallady? Kogălniceanu, Racoviță, Spiru Haret?
[Disclaimer: the fact that I do not understand football, that I’m a mess when it comes to gymnastics and that I’m afraid to visit Bran Castle at night because I really think there’s a hidden spirit living in there, has nothing to do with this alternative selection of RU-MEI-NI-AN stars, other than the fact that they were all born in Iasi, and I wish they were as cool in the Ar-menian Ro-manian context as Hagi, Nadia and Dracula seem to be.]
Pentalog Iasi: the Trailblazer Geek Gang of a Pioneer City
So many things we should brag about were born in Iasi, besides the above very well-known figures – the first Romanian newspaper, the first Romanian university, the first Romanian musical, the first botanical garden in Romania (and the list is much longer).
There is no wonder that the first educational movement in Pentalog Romania was born, as well, in Iasi. The birth of PentaStagiu Iasi is just one of the many examples accounting for the fact that Pentalog Iasi lives by the “Mens sana in corpore sano” rule. Or at least this is the impression I got after my first short visit to Pentalog Iasi, as part of my tour to all Pentalog agencies.
To sum up, besides the awesome kitchen groupies of Cluj, the bike riders with all the spokes in place from Brasov, the happy chatelains of Orleans and the geeks bursting with Bucuria in Chisinau, I finally got the chance to meet the sturdy trail blazers of Pentalog Iasi!
Iasi originates from the Sanskrit and Hindi word Yash, meaning Fame. That’s something I’ve found out recently, yet it can very easily prove that etymology knows its ways! Or, at least related to Pentalog Yash, it surely does! And this is because the PentaGuys in the delivery center in Iasi, the biggest one in Romania actually, are famous for many things, as Yash itself points out:
Believe me, these guys go Yabadabadoo! each time they hear about a game day/ night. Trust me, I’ve been there! And man, they are ready for it every moment! In the morning, before work hours (sometimes even before coffee!!!) they stretch a bit their hands after a good night sleep with a table tennis round; instead of cigar-break they break some plastic toes at the foosball table, while belly (lunch) time sometimes turns into some brainy (chess) time. Not to mention the game evenings and nights! These guys surely go Yabadabadoo on a regularly basis!
Unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance to attend any official game contests during my stay in Iasi, so I asked Tudor, the Sports & Wellness Events responsible, to tell me how it feels like to be part of one and here’s what he told me: [Before reading the following lines, please grab some popcorn, put your 3D glasses on, look at the following epic photo and be there!]
“It’s a morning like any other in the Iasi agency. People are starting to show up, taking their hot drinks and gathering for a quick chitchat. The smell is not of freshly brewed coffee, but of sweet revenge. The competitions are ruthless! They have been training hard since the last championship or leagues seasons, joysticks were broken, table tennis blades were splintered, foosball players were faulted, promises made and allegiances formed. This is it, this is everyone’s chance to be the best in the battle-scarring proving grounds of Pentalog. Soon, after lunch, the modern warfare of sports begins! Evening awaits for the dust to settle…”
But their love for sports is not everything! They also burst in Artistic endeavours. And when I say Art, I mean everything that counts as food for the soul and for the mind. Besides the sport they sometimes raise to the rank of art, they organize and rejoice in many cultural events which burst with knowledge and good will, so I couldn’t refrain from asking Krisztina, the French teacher and Cultural Events responsible, how it feels like at Pentalog Iasi in one of those evenings and here is what she told me: [Insert popcorn bag again]
“The relaxation area puts on its party clothes. People come together and form enthusiastic teams eager to participate in contests and have fun. Everything is ready: 1, 2, 3 and off you go. But what do they hope to gain? Knowledge through the different activities offered? The satisfaction of having responded to the challenge? Prizes or a well-deserved tasting? Or just moments of conviviality and fun? It doesn’t matter, as long as people feel good and come back to each new event.”
They are the founders of Stagiu – PentaStagiu, as we all call it in Pentalog. Rooted 11 years ago in Iasi, it has become the largest internship program in Eastern Europe dedicated both to university students and to those looking for a different career path. PentaStagiu wrote history in the last years for the benefits it brought to the community. Every year, over 1,000 people from Iasi and around the city apply for this internship program and go through individual interviews with their future mentors, in order to make sure the most suitable candidates are chosen. Of course, this is a tough job, and not once they would have taken them all, if possible.
During my visit in Iasi I met Ana Maria, the PentaStagiu coordinator and I asked her how it feels like to take part, year after year, in this molding process of those willing to grow and evolve under the Penta wings. [I do hope you still have some popcorn left]
“When you look back, it’s funny how we eagerly wait for the youngsters to arrive and meet them; we are curious how they look, how old they are, what they have learned so far and we already start planning in our heads the next steps in their education. I find it funny, because once they start coming one by one, timid, yet enthusiast, we get to understand that our emotions, the mentors’, are way bigger than theirs and our desire to step forward alongside their fresh vibe is at least as big as their desire to learn from us. But hours pass, and passion takes the turn of emotions. Java here, Python there, code everywhere. That’s how we learn to relax and fully enjoy, understanding that at the end of the day, we all speak the same language.”
They are public Hugs providers. Free Hugs providers, to be more specific. Rumours say nothing in life is for free. Well, Pentalog Iasi surely beats that! Starting with the Delivery Center Manager’s office, which states big, bold and shiny: FREE HUGS right at the entrance and moving on to the recurrent hugging sessions, a thing is clear: at Pentalog Iasi you don’t get to choose whether you want to be hugged or not. If you can’t run fast, you take it!
I asked Cristi, the DCM of Pentalog Iasi how it feels like to be part of one of these hugging assaults [relax, leave the popcorn bag aside, you can’t properly keep anything in your hands during these moments] but he didn’t have time to answer because some PentaGuys were already behind him and an impromptu hugging session revealed in front of my eyes. If only for this treatment, and a coming back to Iasi can always be a good idea!
Truth be said, to many people, Armenia may sound more familiar than Romania, and Hagi, Nadia, Dracula more famous than Kogălniceanu, Racoviță, Spiru Haret, but to us, Pentalog Iasi sounds as easy as this – a trailblazer geek gang, promoting the essential values in life: education, wellness, art, and sturdy, unbeatable, fluffy embraces.
Pay them a visit and be ready – if it’s not with popcorn, it surely is with free hugs!
Or some fresh beer & tech during one of the PentaBAR events in Iasi. 😊