Trust your gut

I applied to Next Generation thinking that I knew what to expect. I was used to going out, interviewing people and editing to meet deadlines but I truly did not know what was in store for me.

The first day went by smoothly. I thought it wasn’t going to be as hard as everyone makes it seem. Second day, I started feeling it.  The eight hours I spent writing and editing went by extremely quickly. I felt as if I did not have enough hours in the day to get everything done.

By the third day, I felt as if I wasn’t going to leave the newsroom until midnight. I learned that at some point I needed to just step away from my work, get rest and come back with fresh eyes. By the fourth day I felt like everything fell into place out of nowhere.

This workshop has been extremely challenging but I would do it again if I had the opportunity. I recommend that anyone who is interested about either storytelling or journalism, to go for it. BELIEVE EVERYONE when they tell you, you will be challenged but it’ll be worth it.


Romanian doctor finds freedom through medicine

Jewish doctor Dan Streja found his freedom through medicine.

Dr. Dan Streja’s office is filled with photos of his family. His five grandkids are all around the room grinning at him from picture frames. He smiles remembering when he first came to live in the United States.

“What was a surprise was how friendly people are … how easy it is to navigate everything,” he said.

Dan Alexandru Streja was born in Romania in 1939, to a mother who was a gynecologist and a father who was a urologist.

“I was trained from age five to give shots to pillows … to be a physician. My father’s dream had been that I will be a professor of medicine somehow,” he shared.

Dr. Streja at a conference in Los Angeles. (Photo by Elani Streja)

Today, Streja is a clinical professor at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine. He’s practiced medicine for over 40 years in the United States and has a clinic in West Hills, about 25 miles north west of Los Angeles. He is still active in research and has published over 46 papers and co-authored four textbooks during his career.

Dr. Streja (circled) and his classmates in Romania. (Photo courtesy of the Streja family)

But Dr. Streja’s life was not easy. When Nicolae Ceaușescu took over Romania, Dr. Streja said he knew things had to change.

“When I saw that, I made a pledge that I will absolutely not stay in this country. I’ll do anything to get out of here.”

Dan Streja

After spending some time in Winnipeg, Canada, Dr. Streja and his wife, Lidia decided that it was time to move to a warmer place. They headed south, directly to Los Angeles, California.

“It looks like everybody here does what they want. I mean, everyone can keep their own traditions. In other countries that won’t work. You can do it but … it is not something that they will promote. Here … I might not agree with you but I’ll give my life. That’s … the American principle,” he said.

The Streja children when they were younger: Elani, David, Leanne. (Photo courtesy of the Streja family)

Dr. Streja and his wife raised their family in Los Angeles. They had one son and twin daughters. David, Elani and Leanne have excelled within their own fields, too, Streja said. Elani Streja is an epidemiologist and professor at UC Irvine. Leanne Streja Goldstein is a statistician for Deloitte. David Streja was a businessman and director of Infosphere Clinical Research. David passed away in 2017.

“There is a Romanian poem that I learned by heart and I’m repeating it over and over again. It tells the story of the pain of parents. It’s about a father and mother who are mourning … everything that’s normally happening when something like this happened,” he said. 

Dr. Streja said he doesn’t think he will ever leave Los Angeles. He’s never returned to Romania because he doesn’t feel like he belongs. 

“I don’t hate the Romanian people. It’s not their fault. But somehow they made me feel that I’m not part of them.”