A brief bit of background, Aura Imbarus was born and raised in Sibiu/Hermannstadt, Romania, or more precisely in “Dracula’s county - Transylvania," Ms. Imbarus attended Lucian Blaga University, earning an MA degree in American and British Studies and a Ph.D. in Philology with the distinction Cum Laude. From 1990 to 1997, she worked as a journalist for Radio Contact, The National Journal, and Gallup Poll in Sibiu, Romania.
In 1997, Aura immigrated to Los Angeles, where she continued her education at UCLA and began her teaching career both as a high school and college professor. She is an educator, professional speaker, and the author of the critically acclaimed memoir, Out of the Transylvania Night: A Story of Tyranny, Freedom, Love and Identity, and a book for teens, 101 Great Ways to Make the World a Totally Awesome Place - By Teens For Teens, both fall 2010 releases.
You may recall that Aura was my co-interviewer when author Diane Fanning was featured here, or that I posted Aura's book trailer. She graciously made time to come back and discuss Out of the Transylvania Night: A Story of Tyranny, Freedom, Love and Identity.
Madame Perry: You take us into your family’s home in the time before and during the Romanian Revolution and show us the day to day life in personal, cultural and social realms, including having to bury your family’s most valued heirlooms. It is very beautiful to see how much you value each other and your heritage.
Aura Imbarus, Ph.D.: Money is a commodity that can be gained or lost, but the most important thing we carry with us is our heritage. No matter what you will do in life and where you will end up living, the roots will be the ones providing stability and that sense of belonging every human being longs for. The love and care we have shared cannot be purchased with all the money in the world.
Perry: Did most of your neighbors and relatives, even with their hopes, believe they would live to see Romania as it is today?
Imbarus: The old generations, like my Grandma’s one, have seen or had better days. They never lost the freedom’s torch and their hope that one day Romania will see the end of its suffering, and the borders will open up and people will travel the world. My parents’ generation has been skeptical. Some of them believed in a brighter tomorrow, while others never saw it coming. I always believed that Romania would find its way out of Communism, but I also knew that I would end up in a bigger country, one that has an ocean line and palm trees. It has been a vision I had since I was a child and has never left me until I landed on LAX, fulfilling my premonitions and déjà-vu.
Perry: Do you feel the depravation and struggles create a deeper appreciation of freedom than many of us in America can grasp?
|Aura Imbarus, Ph.D.|
Imbarus: A strong foundation and a high self esteem that was ingrained in me since I was child have helped me tremendously. On one hand, my parents never accepted anything but the best from me, and, on the other hand, I never let them down. So, failure was not a word in my vocabulary. Did I have awkward moments in my journey? Of course, I did, but it is not how many times I failed, but how many times I succeeded. I knew that whatever I was doing at one point in my life would get better if I will hold my head high and keep my integrity untouched.
Perry: Aura! That last sentence alone makes a powerful mantra. When your hard work paid off, what drove you to keep climbing the ladder of success, instead of leveling off and taking it easy?
Imbarus: The spirit of competition I have in me is not in reference to others but to my own self. I am my best friend and my most unbeatable enemy. I constantly challenged myself in the long hours I work, in the multi-tasking I put up with, and in the barriers and obstacles I want to surmount. As long as I cannot see the end of the road, the battle is not over. In my case the end will be when I will stop breathing. I love psychological, strenuous trekking, and the challenges that come with them. Like Mark Twain once said, “I never let schooling interfere with my education,” I assert something along those lines as well: I will never let my spirit be tamed and my desire of life be curved.
Perry: Your grandmother’s quote “Out of the bleakest winter night come the hungriest wolves,” surely described the despair you felt when it seemed you were suffering not a mere reversal of fortune, but a collapse of the structure and security you had built in your new life. Did you feel you could call on the love and spirits of family members who had passed away for guidance and hope?
Imbarus: Between life and death there is a thin, invisible line. Love is the eternal feeling that transcends time and space, so, yes, I truly believe there is something out there way bigger than us, way more powerful that our mere brain can comprehend. I constantly feel their presence around me; another set of eyes looking at the same things I am looking at and guiding me. I believe in numerology and in karma; I don’t believe in coincidences even if they might appear to be like that. I think that all present people in our lives carry a special message, and it is up to us to see it and decipher it.
Perry: Yes, I also feel certain loved ones who have passed on very near me at times. Also I believe, and enjoy, wonderful moments of synchronicity. Which brings me to the question – is it true that people from Transylvania tend to have special psychic gifts?
Imbarus: There are some big names of psychics of Romanian origin out there, so there must be something in the air. I do believe due to topography and laws of physics, ESP and psychic phenomena are really present in Transylvania.
Perry: And your special gifts would be?
Imbarus: I had dreams during high school and college alerting me of future testing topics; I predicted my ranking at the college admission, and I even saw the desk I would be sitting at. I always knew that I would end up in a country similar to America. I still have premonitions about myself, but I cannot see or predict for anybody else.
Perry: Aura, I am so glad to have met you. And I thank you for sharing your story about life during and after the Romanian Revolution; and about the beauty of your love of family and country, with all of us.
Aura: JP, thank you so much for reviewing my book and truly picking up on its themes. It is never too late to find out that a new fan or a new friend was just born for you. You are that new addition to my life!
Perry: You are so gracious, Aura, and you know I'm enjoying getting to know your sharp sense of humor. Please don't be a stranger here in my salon. For everyone reading this, I urge you to get Out of the Transylvania Night: A Story of Tyranny, Freedom, Love and Identity and read it. You can visit Aura’s website, and follow her on Twitter.