At the 2018 fall retreat in Cologne, the Unifier sat down with five of the teens, Adam, Johnny, Kai, Réka, and Dalma.

The week before the retreat, from 28 October to 2 November,  Adam, Johnny, and Kai visited the János Zsigmond Unitarian Academy in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. They stayed in the school dormitory for the week and got to know both the school and its students. They then flew directly to Cologne for the retreat, accompanied by Réka and Dalma, two of the students from the Unitarian Academy who had been their guide during their week in Romania and who had received a grant from EUU to attend the retreat. Below, you’ll find our interview with them.


Unifier: Johnny, this was your 2nd time going to Transylvania. Were there some differences between the two trips?

Johnny: Yeah, we didn’t do the same things. Two years ago we went to Torockó, which is an old, traditional village. We didn’t go there this time. The biggest difference was we stayed in the school this time. Last time we stayed with host families.


Unifier: How did that change your experience of the stay?

Johnny: Well, you’re a little less immersed in the whole experience because you’re not in a Transylvanian household, just a dorm room, but it made it a little more convenient, and it made us a little more independent. When we stayed with families, we always had to have someone with us when we went somewhere, so we could get back into the apartment. When we were staying in the dorm, during the break periods we could leave freely.

Kai: Yeah, we could go to the supermarket or the pizza place or the doner place around the corner.

Johnny: Yeah, we pretty much went to the supermarkets just for the sodas!


Unifier: Réka and Dalma, do a lot of guests visit the school, or was this a unique experience? And were you involved in their visit, or did you meet them for the first time on Friday?

Réka and Dalma: We met on the second day. We were the tourist leaders in the city.

Adam: They guided us.


Unifier: Have you ever hosted someone like that before?

Réka: Yes, one month ago there was a European School Network program in our school. It’s a student exchange, and we organized a program about Transylvania, Land of Tolerance. There were a lot of students from France, Italy, Poland and Germany. I hosted an Italian girl. I really liked it, so it wasn’t something new for me.


Unifier: Boys, did you guys go to classes?

Adam: Yeah, the day after we arrived, we attended three or four classes. We went to English, then we watched a documentary, and then Johnny and I attended a music class.

Kai: I didn’t!


Unifier: Are all the classes taught in English?

Kai: Just the ones that we went to.

Johnny: Just the English class. The music class was in Hungarian. We did ethics the day after, and the teacher did part of it in English for us.


Unifier: What did you find most impressive or difficult?

Kai: I wouldn’t really call anything difficult.

Adam: Yeah. It wasn’t difficult; it was interesting, just discovering a new country and a new culture. And we had some people who actually lived in Transylvania, so they could tell us what was happening and everything.


Unifier: How was it dealing with the language when the girls weren’t around?

Kai: Basically people understood enough English.

Adam: They had English class, and they spoke English well.

Kai: They spoke very well, actually.

Adam: So we could really communicate with them.

Réka and Dalma: Our school does the Cambridge English exam.


Unifier: Adam, we heard that you filmed a lot while you were there.

Adam: I did!


Unifier: What did you film?

Adam: Almost everything! You can ask them; I always had my camera on me.

Johnny: Takeoff, landing…

Adam: Yeah, and all the time when we were visiting. I’m maybe planning to show it next retreat—a montage of everything. Maybe!


Unifier: It’ll be interesting to see your perspective of the whole experience.


Unifier: So what was your favorite thing?

Adam: I liked two things. The first whole day, where we visited the city. Not a big visit, but the girls showed us around. That was really great. Not really because we discovered things—I mean, we did—but more because we got to really talk to Réka and Dalma about how life is in Transylvania. And the second thing I really liked is when we visited the mountains, where we walked and saw beautiful mountains.

Johnny: I think my favorite part was going through the salt mine. It was really impressive. It was my second time going there, but it was still a lot of fun. There’s a ferris wheel in the salt mine, which is kind of crazy.

Unifier: There’s a ferris wheel underground?

Johnny: Yeah. And there was also a teensy lake where you could row around, which was pretty cool. So that was my favorite—and also not necessarily anything specific, but just getting to know everybody better through the experience.

Kai: I liked that we did a mini tour of the school, and there were some historic objects and taxidermied animals, and it was all a very interesting experience. But my favorite part was probably walking through the gorge because that was just an all-around fun experience. Just a lot of chatting and looking at the beautiful scenery.

Johnny: And walking along fairly narrow ledges!


Unifier: Fortunately you’re still ok! How about you, girls? Do you have a favorite part of the weekend so far?

Réka and Dalma: Not really. We can’t name one favorite part; we’re enjoying the whole weekend. And we’ve enjoyed meeting the boys and getting to know them.


Unifier: Well, that’s probably a great way to conclude. Thank you, everyone!