Flinn Scholars

On the Road 2012: Day Seventeen

June 12, 2012

By Flinn Foundation

Each summer an entire class of Flinn Scholars engages in a group study-travel seminar. This year’s seminar, held in Hungary and western Romania, runs from late in May to mid-June. Here’s a day-by-day account.

Jacquelyn Oesterblad (’11)

If I’m being completely honest, I had a really hard time writing this (which is my excuse for why I’m submitting this twelve days after the trip ended). And I blame this difficulty at least partly on the events of today. Every day of this trip is a “good” day — I spend every day surrounded by all of my best friends, being exposed to crazy and fascinating ideas. But we’ve also honed our critical thinking skills to a dangerously sharp point. To quote a speaker we had back in Pécs, we American teenagers know how to criticize everything.

And so I had a hard time writing about today because we have been critical of it. I’d like to think that we have made an honest attempt to think critically about every experience of this trip, and that those criticisms in no way detract from our appreciation of this opportunity. This spirit of questioning was my experience of the trip, and the one that I wanted to convey in this blog. But I also want to be completely fair to those who made today — and this seminar as a whole — possible. So I will sidestep this problem by saying that today led to a lot of discussion and that we all learned and grew a lot from that. And given that this is the way I choose to define a good day, today was a really great day.

With that aside, my mostly unbiased description of today’s events:

We began the morning with a lecture on the situation in Romania for the Hungarian and Roma minorities. After a short coffee break (I’ve consumed more caffeine on this trip than any college all-nighter ever required) we toured the facility of the Alpha Transylvania Foundation, a private charity dedicated to providing services to the region’s disabled populations. The lecture that followed was one of the most widely enjoyed of the entire trip – after Bogdan’s lectures, of course. Lunch was…nourishing (some kind of salty pork and cabbage rolls, with the vegetarians eating their favorite corn-meal-mush-with-cheese thing). Then it was onto a bus for the drive to Cluj-Napoca.

Cluj was my favorite of the cities we visited — there’s something very comfortable and livable about it. We spent our first afternoon in the city touring some of the major churches and other sites (and eating gyros and falafel for the five-billionth time) with some students in the Political Science program as Babes-Bolyai University, an experience that resulted in some of the best stories of the trip. The thunderstorm on the walk home was the cherry on top. (Your opinion of rain will decide whether that was sarcastic or not.) I will now abruptly end this because I am already 150 words over the completely unreasonable 300 word limit.