An interview with Dr. Magdalena Caproiu

Dr. Magdalena Caproiu

Dr. Magdalena Caproiu earned her PhD in Mechanical Engineering under the shadow of Communism in 1960s Romania, the only female graduate in her class. Dr. Caproiu has been an educator for sixty-seven years, is fluent in eight languages, and has written twenty academic research papers, six textbooks, and five class learning booklets on the subjects of math and engineering.

Born in 1930 in a small Transylvanian village, Dr. Caproiu began life without most of the modern conveniences we appreciate today: electricity, telephone communication, or even running water.  In her childhood, she survived the ravages of War World II, being forced to wear the Star of David and facing daily anti-Semitism by the Iron Guard, Romania’s version of the Nazi party. As an adult, she persevered through the struggles of living under Romania’s Communist regime, with its rampant corruption, food shortages, and threats by the Secret Police.

After moving to the United States with her family, Dr. Caproiu started her life and career over at the age sixty as a Math Learning Specialist at Antelope Valley College. In her 70s, she rekindled her love of travel and has now visited more than eighty countries (and counting). A lifelong educator, she finds purpose in touching the lives of her students with her unshakeable optimism.  Her motto states, “The difference between a good day and a bad day does not consist of a change in the day.  It consists of a change in you.”

1. What inspired you to write this book?

Across the decades of my life, I had to develop survival skills in order to overcome the many obstacles I faced. My intention for sharing my story is to show how I developed these life skills. I had to learn to fight for what I wanted, trust my intuition, connect with others, and be grateful for what I had. These qualities are universal and apply today as much as they did ninety years ago.

2. Summarize your book in one to three sentences as if you were speaking to someone unfamiliar with your book and its topic.

Surviving on Longitude and Latitude chronicles my 90-year life journey through political turmoil, discrimination, and my undying passion for education. I now share my survival skills and life lessons in the hopes of inspiring others.

3. What is the overall theme of your book?

The central theme is survival, resilience, and the drive to pursue your dreams against all odds.

4. Where does this book take place?

The bulk of the story takes place in various locations across Romania. However, in the latter part of the book, we travel across oceans to find the book’s finale in the United States of America.

5. Who are the main characters and why are they important to the story?

This book revolves around my life and the lives of my family who were always at the core of my pursuit of a better life.

6. Why do you think that this book will appeal to readers?

It is easy to look around and find reasons to be discouraged, or read about one-in-a-million success stories that are difficult to relate to, but this story is different. My success comes from my attitude and ability to turn obstacles into opportunities. These lessons can apply to anyone regardless of their place in life.

7. How is your book relevant in today’s society?

This book shows that there are many things to be grateful for, even in the darkest of times, and that people have the incredible capacity to survive many difficult situations as long as they have the right mind set.

8. Is there any subject currently trending in the news that relates to your book?

Whether it’s politics, the Covid health crisis, or economic turmoil, it’s easy for someone to feel they have no control over their situation. My journey took me through many bleak and chaotic situations, and yet I emerged with a story of hope.

9. What makes your book different from other books like it?

This book is a first-hand account that spans nine decades of anguish and joy, through unique locations within Eastern Europe and the world. It’s a peek into a different time, place, and a simple way of life that most people could never experience otherwise.

10. What do you want readers to take away from your writing?

I want readers to develop their own survival skills in order to improve their lives, learn coping strategies, and hopefully be inspired to follow their own dreams.

11. How did you learn about the topic?

First-hand account through personal experience.

12. Is there a particular passage from your book that you’d like us to utilize?

“Though I was young when the darkness of the world first showed itself to me, I had learned from my family that your place in life doesn’t determine your happiness.  Rather, you must choose to be happy despite your situation, and find the simple joys brought through gratitude, friendships, and purpose.  As a young girl, the unknown filled me with anxiety.  I feared travel.  I have gone from my childhood fears of leaving my comfortable little nest to becoming a world traveler who loves nothing more than planning her next trip.  I have visited eighty countries so far, and I’m not done.  The power of the natural world rejuvenates me and expands my love for life.  Every place I go has its own history, culture, and traditions, all of which warm my heart and expand my understanding of others and myself.”