Each summer the Flinn Scholars Program takes an entire class of Scholars to Budapest, Hungary, and neighboring Romania for a three-week seminar on the emerging democracies of Eastern Europe. Here’s a day-by-day account.
Sam Wang (’07):
My day began with the chit-chat of the neighborhood dogs of Homorodszentpeter; it was 2 a.m.
Then, at 4 a.m., the roosters began to announce their presence in the village. By the time 7 a.m. had come around, the cacophony of animal sounds had become one of the most effective alarm clocks I have encountered on this trip. My homestay, Ildi, had already prepared breakfast, coupled with an excellent morning tea brewed from dried, homegrown flowers.
The day’s lectures began with an introduction to Homorodszentpeter given by Kinga, the Unitarian minister as well as the mayor of the village. Kinga eloquently informed the Flinns of village life, values, and her own origins. During the discussion, topics of gender roles and educational values arose; it was apparent that, while Kinga hopes for success and higher education for her family, she also wishes for the retention of village values in her children’s minds. Because of strong family values and an undeniable sense of community, Kinga placed village life upon much higher ground in comparison to metropolitan living.
A sense of familiarity swept over me as Kinga spoke; growing up in rural China for the earlier parts of my life, I could understand the minister’s perspectives wholeheartedly.
Soon, following Kinga’s discussion, Zoltan gave his lecture on Transylvanian history, which presented an informative and chronological view to the changes that had occured in Transylvania over the centuries, as well as the events leading to and during the 20th-century revolutions.
After yet another amazing lunch prepared by Ildi, it was time to say goodbye to our beloved village. Following the presentation of gifts (along with a donation for the church), we parted ways with our hosts. On the bus, I reflected on the village I have grown to love and the nostalgia I had felt with every single step through the streets of Homorodszenpeter (sometimes in cow manure).
Gradually, I fell asleep on the bumpy ride to Saint Anna Lake. Saint Anna Lake, the only crater lake in the region, was a force to be reckoned with in the rain. The pitter-patter of rain drops soon turned into a summer storm that guaranteed a head-to-toe drenching, especially for Arielle and Amy, who decided to take a run through the crater forest.
After drying and hanging our clothes on the bus, we went back to normal bus mode: playing cards, dozing off, and for the four Chinese Flinns (myself included), belting out Taiwanese-pop on our iPods.
Later that night, we arrived at the village of Illyefalva. After checking into the guest houses, the group proceeded to eat dinner on the lawn of an ancient fortress situated near the hostel. Soon, however, the romantic dinner had to be relocated under cover due to the rain.
Following a hearty meal of goulash and bread, a large portion of the group followed Mada and Zoltan (our fearless Romanian chaperones) to a nearby bar, where I ordered unidentifiable drinks with my unintelligible Romanian/Hungarian speaking skills. The night went by fast, and before I knew it, I was lying in bed, dozing off.
Photo by Sarah Trainor (’07)