The United Societies of Balkans gave us the opportunity to travel to Romania in order to participate to Pro Sana 2, a Youth Exchange aiming at helping its participants to adopt a healthier lifestyle. There are no words to describe our gratitude and happiness for being part of this amazing experience, of a family of 42 young people from all over Europe. But aren’t all these words cliché? Perhaps they are! But for us there was something magical about our
stay in Poiana Negrii.
Our meeting day with the other participants was not a common one in Cluj-Napoca. There were no clouds in the sky and it was almost full moon. It could be easily noticed that there was a commotion in the central bus station, where lots of people had been gathered. Many people were loading the bus with their baggage but there was still enough space. Some other people were smoking their last cigarette before their long journey and some other were just walking vibrantly around the bus. The abundant moonlight was shining the faces of the people and it revealed the anxiety and the curiosity which were dominating their thoughts. Their adventure was about to begin. The way to Poiana Negrii was extremely foggy and terrifying, nobody knew each other and everybody was trying to unlock the mysterious doors of the others’ personality. But, as the time was going by, these doors have been unlocked and finally every single person started to be friendly with and warm to the rest of the group. In the next 10 days, in order to survive, they took the initiative to try new things, to challenge themselves, to take a deep look in their own mind, while they were
getting to know other people.
During these days, we were neither students nor teachers. We were ourselves and we had to use our imagination every single moment. We became actors, filmmakers, chefs, hikers, yoga-trainers, kung-fu fighters, dancers, singers and, most importantly, friends. The people that we met will stay in our minds and hearts forever. That’s because we exchanged thoughts, experiences, we supported each other, admired each other, fell in love with each other. We realized that the things that separate us are not that important as the things that unite us. That was the greatest achievement of this project: it united us and showed us that together we can “do great thing and leave our mark”. We’d love to share with you some of the most interesting and challenging activities that the organizers had prepared for us. During one of the first ones, we had to create a healthy diet program based one each one’s nutritional needs. But theory without practice is nothing.
Thus, we played a game named “Masterchef”. The organizers gave each national group a box full of healthy food items and we had to prepare healthy meals taking into consideration our national cuisine. Our team prepared for our friends greek ntakos, greek salad, “kanapedakia” and “mpinelikia”. Everybody loved them, even the ladies from our venue’s kitchen! We felt very proud. Perhaps the funniest activity was when we had to use theater in order to understand the benefits of a healthy lifestyle and the bad effects of an unhealthy one. For example, one of the plays was a fairytale, in which a princess kissed a banana which after that was transformed to a lovely prince… and they lived happily ever after. Our favorite was for sure when we went hiking to the Carpathian Mountains. It was tiring, our feet were hurting for the rest of the project but the feeling when we reached the top of the mountain (1857m) was stunning. Last but not least, our last task was to create short films regarding what we had learned so far! 4 teams, 4 films, 4 masterpieces. We highly recommend you to find some time and watch them on YouTube, as these videos are the remaining proof of our excitement and happiness in Romania! We made a remake of the TV series “Friends” named “European Friends”. That was how we felt and still feel. We captured the story of the life of “three men” before and after the project and we also filmed two videos which presented some of the best moments of our experience, “Memoirs of Poiana” and “Our time is now”. Google them!
And, of course, we have to speak about our nights, those amazing nights full of foreign dances, food and drinks. We hardly believe that we managed to survive these nights! Two of the most special ones were the Tedx night and the Oscars night. During the first one, we made inspirational speeches. Ilias made a public speech for the first time, Manolis practiced his stand-up comedy skills and Tzo share with us that “it is okay” to be who you are! A very, very, very emotional and unforgettable night! The Oscars night was special in its own way as well. We saw our final films for the first time. We voted for the best. But, at the end of the day, we were all winners! What happened in the end of this extraordinary story? When this adventure was over, it was a very cold evening in Poiana Negrii, but nobody felt that cold, because all these days has been converted to memories that kept their body and their soul really warm. The time seemed to had stopped for these days and the same happened to their anxiety and their fears. Now, they are hugging each other, they are not afraid to talk, because these words that they are saying now are going to be their last words for this journey. The most emotional people are crying and the strongest are tightening their fist in order to hide their sadness. Now, the empty space in the bus is totally full and the bus barely is able to climb the hills. The bus is now full with emotions, with new experiences, unforgettable memories, new ideas that are going to change their lives and maybe, sometime these ideas will be the underpinnings of a new world. What we want you to keep in mind after reading this article is that an Erasmus+ Project can change your life. Do not hesitate to take part in one. Make the first step and soon your life will change, as ours did.
Hlias, Ionna, Giannis, Giorgos, Glykeria, Manolis & Tzo
Pro Sana 2 / 17-28 February / Romania