Coming to America, Cosmin Chiriac’s story

Although many at GlenOak recognise substitute Cosmin Chiriac, most do not know his story.

Chiriac was born in Bucharest, Romania. He grew up with his parents and sister in Romania, but later moved around Europe. 

From a young age, Chiriac had a love for exploring and culture.

“I would be in different countries for a few months at a time, staying with friends,” Chiriac said. “I was mixing with all types of cultures. French, Spanish, Brazilian, people from Chile, it was amazing.”

Chiriac performed well in school, majoring in linguistics. He had several professions in Europe which included teaching Romanian and French literature, advertising and working post production for movies.

While in Europe, Chiriac met a man from Canton, Ohio who was working with the Budapest Ambassador. Intrigued by American culture, Chiriac applied for a temporary citizenship program in the U.S.

To Chiriac’s surprise, he was accepted.

“I was wavering, what should I do?” Chiriac said. “I contemplated it for months. In the evening I would tell myself I wasn’t going to go [to the U.S.]. But then in the morning I would want to go.”

The decision to leave his friends and family was a difficult one. Chiriac highlighted how he disagreed with his family on it so much that they stopped discussing it entirely. 

Inevitably, Chiriac opted to come to America in 2016.

“Why should I give up without trying on a chance, a new path that has opened to me?” Chiric said. “Otherwise I will have in my mind that I could have gone there and I didn’t try it.”

In order to make the move, Chiriac says he had to trick himself into it.

“I told myself at first I would stay three months. If I didn’t like it I would move back to Romania. It’s been five years and I keep telling myself that every few months.”

Chiriac’s first stop in the U.S. was a layover in Detroit.

“It was depressing. There were certain expectations of what America would be like from the media. It was not what I expected,” Chiriac said. 

That is not to say Chiriac’s experience was negative, however; he came to Canton, the hometown of his friend in Romania. He quickly built friendships and described the locals as “extremely friendly and helpful.” 

Chiriac’s previous work and study of literature qualified him to substitute teach. He began subbing at Washington Massillon, then alternating between GlenOak, Perry, Louisville and some other local school districts. 

GlenOak eventually offered Chiriac to stay on as a permanent substitute, and he has been at the high school ever since.

“The American education system is so encouraging. Having taught in both Europe and America, there is such a difference,” Chiriac said. “In Europe teachers can be harsh, it can stifle your personality and make you shy and timid. Here [in America] teachers give positive encouragement, even when a student isn’t on the right track.”

After spending more time in the area, Chiriac was surprised at how different nationalities seem to all turn into ‘American’ within a few generations. For instance, he described how countries such as Hungary go to great lengths to protect their language and culture in Europe. But in America, “within two or three generations, everything is wiped out.”

Another surprise came when Chiriac learned how structured American’s lives are. 

“Making too many plans will stifle opportunities that arise,” Chiriac said. “In Europe plans are much more casual. In America everything has an appointment. Even the fun is planned ahead of time.”

Chiriac is happy with his place at GlenOak and his decision to come to America. However, he does not plan on staying indefinitely. He does not believe that education is right for him long term, and looks forward to his next adventure. 

Chiriac is unsure where life will take him next, but for now he is with us.