The Erasmus + project, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle trip to Romania started off with an unexpected adventure...one student short in the early hours of the morning. We were forced to make our flights to Berlin and on to Bucharest without Giordan. We were met in Bucharest by our excited Romanian hosts whose remark, 'No problem!'(this remark would be heard many times over the next few days by our delightful hosts) regarding our dilemma of our missing student and sorting out pick up for late that evening.
Magura, the village we would be staying in with local families from the school, was a two hour rally drive from Bucharest. We would soon learn that the rules of the road are very different in Romania and we were in for a roller coaster ride...each time! As Mrs Umerkajeff was leading the trip, Mrs Anneli made the journey back to Bucharest at midnight, with a parent who spoke no English (Thank God for body language, drama skills and football as a topic) to pick up our missing link, Giordan! Better late than never!
The next few days were filled with touring the local school that was hosting this project in Romania. Our students, Axel Zimburg, Daniel Munyao, Yoonsik Kim, Alejandro Xirau, and Giordan Yates were wholeheartedly involved in the projects set up by the Romanian team alongside students from France, Turkey, Czech Republic, Poland and Romania. Although our students were not Swedish, we were representing Sweden as a nation which was pretty unique as SIS is! The students did activities such as create costumes and bags out of recycled material, rehearsed for a play about recycling (which they later performed with students representing the other countries), graffiti painted recycled plastic containers to decorate the representing nations and their flags across the school yard. Mrs Anneli, Mrs Umerkajeff and the students also took every opportunity to hang out with the others whether playing basketball, learning Romanian terms in exchange of teaching Swedish terms with the school kids and getting to know the other teams.
Alongside work around the daily Erasmus+ project activities, all of the teams were bussed around to various locations of interest. We got to walk along a Berca Mud Volcano, (http://travelguideromania.com/berca-mud-volcanoes/), tour one of the royal palaces, Pelisor Castle (http://www.historvius.com/pelisor-castle-1758/) (which was a great insight into the royalty of Romania prior to the rise of communism), the towns of Brasov, Sinaia, and many small villages and towns we drove through to get to the bigger towns, the monastery of Chiscau which led to the Bear Cave in the Apuseni Mountains. (http://www.romanianmonasteries.org/romania/bears-cave) On our final evening, we even got to quickly walk and discover the castle in Transylvania, known as the Bran Castle or better known as the ‘Dracula castle’. (It is claimed to be one of many castles in that region that inspired Bram Stoker to write his classic novel). (http://www.bran-castle.com/dracula.html)
Our Romanian hosts had worked hard to organise a week of activities and trips that would give us an insight into the history, the culture and the Romania of today. It was truly a privilege to be hosted by them and share these experiences with students and teachers from the other six nations.
As Mrs Umerkajeff stated in her speech to the Major of Bazau on our final morning in Romania.
‘As representatives of Sweden implementing this project of Erasmus+, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle , we have focused on the "joy of learning". Building bridges between people as something more than just an abstract metaphor. We have done this by meeting in one another’s environment over the past year through our trips to Poland, France and Sweden thus far. Being part of this project changes us forever. We must question our preconceptions about each other’s nations and cultures and we do that for sure by meeting in different places and discovering the truth for ourselves. During these days in Romania, we have encountered a beautiful country, but particularly amazingly sweet and welcoming students, staff and local families, who have embraced us with open arms. Thanks for inviting and hosting us.