Monday, March 9, 2009

My First Testimonial!

Egeria Home Exchange has its very first testimonial!

What's that you say -- I thought Egeria was still being built. How can you already have a testimonial?

Well, the fact is that I had a wonderful human guinea pig named Constantin to practise on late last year when I was hatching this idea. Costel was going to Princeton from Victoria to do some research, and he didn't know a soul. As most of us would do under the circumstances, he started to look into booking a hotel.

I could just feel it in my bones that although I didn't know anyone in Princeton either, someone I knew must. I asked Costel if he would wait on booking the hotel while I asked around. Well, I did a little digging and sure enough, among my friends from St Vladimir's Seminary was the 'someone'. I got in touch with our mutual friend in Princeton, and we landed Costel a great place to stay, with friendly fellow Romanians, home cooking and daily transportation to the university library into the bargain!

Now, of course, not every Egeria member will have this amount of interference from me -- this was exceptional; a prototype, if you will. The arranging of home or hospitality exchanges will be up to the members to do for themselves, since there will be a searchable database for that. But the benefits will be very much the same: free or almost-free accommodation, plenty of space, local contacts, and a lasting friendships.

Now, Constantin in his own words:

March 2009

I am writing this letter in support of Jenny Hainsworth's venture, Egeria Orthodox Home and Hospitality Exchange. I am one of the first people to have benefited from Ms. Hainsworth's excellent idea.

I am currently a PhD candidate at the University of Victoria, History Department. In fall 2008 I was organizing a research trip to Princeton University, which was an essential requirement of my PhD program. Even though my trip was going to be supported financially by a research grant offered by Princeton University, I found it difficult to support the cost of accommodation in Princeton.

After conducting extensive research on the accommodation in the area I realized that I was facing two main issues: the high price of accommodation and the difficulty in getting to the university campus. It was at this moment when I talked to Ms. Hainsworth who told me about her idea of Orthodox hospitality exchange. By using her extensive connections, Ms. Hainsworth put me in contact with an extremely welcoming family who offered me not only accommodation but, also, daily transportation to the university campus, since the lady was a librarian who drove every day to the campus.

With Ms. Hainsworth’s help I was able to connect with a hospitable family who made me part of their social events, such as parties and dinners with friends. In addition to fulfilling the initial purpose of my trip, namely conducting research, I was able to meet new people, exchange ideas and, not unimportantly, to avoid three weeks of isolation, as would have been the case in a hotel room.

My experience proves that Ms. Hainsworth’s venture, Egeria Orthodox Home and Hospitality Exchange, is not only feasible but also unique, realistic and extremely useful. The support and information that I received from Ms. Hainsworth demonstrates that she posses the knowledge and the connections which will allow her to successfully put into practice her endeavour. Furthermore, her ability to plan and organize, spirit of initiative, industriousness and, not lastly, commitment can only guarantee the success of her venture.


Constantin Chira-Pascanut

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