Recently, English Martyrs was given the opportunity to join a group of European schools in an Erasmus+ project that would last 2 years and give some of our students a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
This project is called the ‘TRUE’ Project, which stands for ‘Traditions and Rhythms to Unite Europe’. Several months later, we discovered that we had been successful in our bid for a grant from the European Community, so that we could take 5 teams of musicians to visit our partner schools in Romania, Spain, Finland, Italy and France and in our turn host all five international teams at our school in 2020 to host a series of international concerts.
On the 5th November the group set out for the Scoala Mircea Eliade in Craiova, Romania accompanied by Ms Lee and Mr Wilby.
Marguerite: Going on this trip was one of the best experiences of my life. I absolutely loved it and I wouldn’t have changed any of it for the world, but in fact I would do it all over again. To me the trip was more than just playing music with different students from different schools and countries, but exploring another culture and tradition, making new friends and developing more life skills. We did various activities and saw many different sites. Walking in the towns there were so many lovely sites for us to see. The activities were varied and I loved each thing we did in its own special way. I enjoyed it all.
One of the things we did was to go to the ethnography museum. Here we looked at the story behind the making of bread and the “rhythms of life” in local Romanian history. We first had a talk about the history of the museum and what we were going to see. After the talk we looks around the museum at some tools used in the making of bread and some traditional Romanian costumes. It was fascinating to look around me. I was taken away by everything I saw and the attention to detail in the museum.
Later that day, all the students came together and we had a rehearsal for the concert the following day. It was the first time that we would have heard the other students play and they were all amazing. It was great to be in the presence of so many musicians all playing music. We could really appreciate the fabulous musicians that were practicing in front of us. It was really nice to see a little sneak peek of the performances before the concert.
Overall it was a great experience. I connected with the other students and have made new friendships for life. Thank you to Ms Lee and Mr Wilby for taking us on this magnificent trip. I will never forget it.
Harry: In the second week of November my colleagues and I went on a trip to Craiova, Romania. I had the most amazing time, meeting interesting people, learning about a different culture, and playing music in a beautiful nation.
I specifically enjoyed the end of week concert, as all nations engaged in the Erasmus+ project performed a piece. Altogether there were six nations, Romania, UK, Spain, France, Italy, and Finland. We performed the Royal Fireworks Suite by GF Handel.
Bits of the trip I particularly enjoyed:
The visit to Brasov, a small Romanian town. We met some Romanian friends there and began exploring a really unique place, going on a walking tour through the town.
We also went to Horezu, a town which had a pottery shop. There, I produced a small pot with a spiral pattern. I had to be very delicate and precise in my handling of the pot, so that it could develop a stable curve and structure. I did not get to take the pot with me, but it’s exciting knowing that one day a person might buy the pot I made!
The visit to Bran, Dracula’s alleged former home. It had a very small, minimalistic design, and it was at some points hard to believe that the Romanian royals once lived in the tiny building. I had a very good time learning about the fascinating history of the Romanian royals.
On the Tuesday, we went into the Mercia Eliade School (named after the famous Romanian historian) and I was put into a group with four people from the other nations partaking in the project. We went to the preschool area, where the teacher showed us ancient patterns and symbols, and then gave us spoons that we could decorate with these patterns. Because the country is predominantly Christian, these symbols represented various Christian concepts. At the end I was very proud of my spoon, and took it home as a memento of my time there! We also spoke with the children and the teachers – everyone was very friendly and hospitable in general on our trip. We then went for lunch at the local Bistro, and ate with our Romanian friends, having a delicious pumpkin soup followed by a cabbage salad.
In the afternoon, we headed to Stil Media, a company that manufactured various products, such as stickers, T Shirts, and banners. We saw them making shirts celebrating the hundredth anniversary of the Romanian state (previously three separate states but now unified) and were shown through the office as various media was created. It was an extremely interesting trip as we got to see the technology used for professions involving media and IT.
Szymon: This trip meant a lot to me. This includes making new friends and improving my socialising skills. Also, improving my musical talent and seeing other people perform and seeing the Romanian culture and their lifestyle.
I loved meeting new people from different countries and socialising was really fun, especially learning phrases in different languages like “hello, how are you”. I also liked exploring the Romanian culture, it was very interesting and fascinating.
On Wednesday we visited Horezu. We went on a long bus ride and when we got there we went into the pottery store. The purpose of the trip was to explore more of the Romanian culture like pottery. We went into the store and saw a lady making plates out of clay. We were all impressed with her pottery skills. Then, she offered us to have a go. It was really fun watching other people make plates, for example Harry. After this we had some time to spend in the pottery store. There were lots of items like plates, bowls, sups and decorations. There was also some woodwork, for example some wooden recorders.
Next we went on the coach again and arrived at a wooded hill. We had to climb the hill to get the really fancy restaurant. It was really beautiful and had lots of Romanian decorations, it even had a pool. Once inside, we were served lots of Romanian dishes which all had lots of meat. We all sat on a large table so we could all talk to each other. It was lots of fun.
Tom: On the first day, together with our Romanian partners we went to visit Bran Castle, the alleged home of Dracula. The reason Dracula has been associated with Bran Castle is because Bram Stoker’s book was partly set in Transylvania, Romania. Even though the castle was unnamed in the book, it was implied that it was Bran Castle because of the similarities in name. Dracula as a character was influenced partly by a former inhabitant of Bran Castle, Vlad the Impaler, who would impale people that were against him. Stoker was also influenced by a woman who attempted to stay youthful by slaughtering many people and bathing in their blood.
We also learned about the history of the castle and the people that lived there, such as Queen Marie. In the castle, there was a visual representation of how the inside of the house would have been set out at different times. We also saw armour, weapons and torture devices as well as clothes that would have been worn by former inhabitants.
Bran Castle itself was set upon a steep cliff, surrounded by a forest of slender trees, which gave it a dominant and intimidating feel. After we looked around the castle, we went around to look at the goods being sold at stalls, whilst others went inside a scary house. We then met back up and began our coach journey to Craiova.
The coach journey was beautiful. The mountains overlooked vast areas of land in some areas, which gave a sense of majesty, which was improved by the sunset, whilst an effect of eeriness was created by the tall thin trees, especially when darkness came. When we arrived at the hotel, there were Romanian hosts welcoming us.
Overall, I think that this trip was really good because we got to experience new languages and cultures, and musical talent as shown in the concert. I found that the Romanian people were very kind-hearted and accommodating. I think that this was an unforgettable experience that will be treasured for a very long time.
Maksymilian: The party which took place after the final concert was amazing. This took place in the hotel we were staying in: ‘Hotel Royal’. There was lots of singing and dancing from both the students and teachers, including conga lines and duets. There were also trained dancers who danced in cowboy, Harry Potter and traditional Romanian styles which was very interesting. There were lots of hugs and tears from everybody when it was our time to say goodbye. We will miss Romania! Thank you for the amazing experience! We can’t wait to meet you all again!