Youthful and energetic, with his dark brown hair slicked back, Andrei Guruianu is the newest, and one of the youngest, additions to the writing department at Ithaca College.
The 27-year-old Romanian immigrant came to the college in the fall with memories of a life few members of the college community can relate to. Guruianu’s family had to go extra lengths to get the things that most Americans take for granted.
“I remember waiting in bread lines,” Guruianu said. “Waiting to get sugar and oil and basic necessities. At the time I didn’t quite realize the significance of what it all meant.”
Guruianu and his family left Bucharest, Romania’s capital, after its revolution in 1991. He was 10 years old.
“Conditions were not, as you would say, the most desirable,” Guruianu said. “Ours is the age-old immigrant story — you leave seeking better conditions for your children than what you grew up with.”
Life in America proved to be far better than the formerly Communist-ruled Romania, he said. After growing up in Queens, Guruianu graduated from Binghamton University with a bachelor’s degree in English before getting his master’s in journalism at Iona College.
He later went on to work as a full-time reporter at Binghamton’s Press & Sun-Bulletin. He and wife, Hannah Maria, still write a weekly column for the Press & Sun-Bulletin titled “Cheap Date,” where they highlight fun things couples can do without having to spend much money.
Guruianu’s most notable success came in September, when his poetry collection was published in a book titled “Days When I Saw the Horizon Bleed,” by upstate New York–based FootHills Publishing. The poems in the collection focus on his past in Romania, his journey to the U.S. and his life in upstate New York.
“Nothing prepared me for being published,” Guruianu said. “It’s an experience completely unlike seeing your name in the newspaper.”
As a freshman in Guruianu’s section of Academic Writing I for international students, Billy Way said he particularly enjoyed the diverse atmosphere of the class.
“He really provoked a lot of interesting discussion,” Way said. “[He] really made you think about things. He pushed you to always write your best and constantly progress.”
Way said Guruianu’s informal teaching style fostered a unique, yet challenging, dynamic in the class.
“If you did something wrong, he wasn’t going to beat around the bush,” Way said. “He’ll flat out tell you [that] you did it wrong. He conducted himself in a way that commanded respect.”
Antonio DiRenzo, associate professor of writing, said Guruianu’s strength lies in his ability to connect with his international students.
“He seems to be very popular with his students,” DiRenzo said. “He is very precious to them as someone who really understands where they’re coming from.”
DiRenzo, along with other members of the writing department, attended the Ithaca Community Poet Series on Jan. 27 at the Community School for Music and Arts, where Guruianu was a featured poet.
“He can boil down a narrative to its most essential features and you still have a sense of all this subterranean stuff underneath,” DiRenzo said. “What is unsaid in Andrei’s work is as powerful and eloquent as what is.”
DiRenzo said Guruianu’s writing is a fusion of strong journalistic and creative writing skills.
“I can tell that this is a very promising writer,” DiRenzo said. “His poetry has the social resonance of strong journalism while his autobiographical journalistic writing has the imagery of poetry.”
While Guruianu’s writing has always played a large role in his life, he said his main focus now is on teaching.
“I’m not currently looking to go into reporting or writing for any form of media,” Guruianu said. “I want to pursue teaching full-time and essentially become a full-time professor.”
As an adjunct, he is only on campus two to three times per week, teaching and working in the Writing Center. He also teaches two courses of Media Writing at Broome Community College. Being at Ithaca College is what solidified his decision to pursue teaching at the college level full time, Guruianu said.
“The college, especially the writing department, has been extremely welcoming and wonderful to me,” Guruianu said. “As an adjunct, sometimes you don’t have that connection with the rest of the staff, but the department has been able to make me feel right at home.”
Though it is unknown whether Guruianu will return to the college in the fall, DiRenzo says he is optimistic about his colleague’s future.
“This is someone who has always landed on his feet,” he said.