Tuesday: 2nd day of the Summer School
6am: We are sitting on a coach, with our Training Sets and sandwiches for the day. We will spend the next 5 hours in high spirits, stopping at high altitude, surrounded by hills, and observing Transylvania from the bumpy windy road. This is the first time that some of our western participants are really seeing the landscape of Eastern Europe.
9am: As we drive through Maramures, Andreea comments on the beautiful traditional architecture of the region, particularly the wooden houses and ornate wooden gates. For some of us, this seems like a step back in time, into a world of traditional weaving, harvesting with scythes and collecting water from wells.
11am: We make an unexpected visit to a monastery to view the wooden buildings and traditional artwork from the inside.
12.30pm: We reach our main destination – the Sighet prison and memorial to the victims of communism. We receive a tour of the building and gained a living sense of the devastating impact of this totalitarian regime on the life of the nation and the lives of millions of individuals: maps of Romania mark places of torture, detainment, execution, psychiatric treatment, each place marked by a cross.
We walk from cell to cell, each one has its own exhibition. Visibly shaken by the pictures of many priests and bishops who had been detained in this prison, Fr Flavius points out the many faces that he knew personally. We also read fascinating accounts of the lives of heroic individuals and read first hand materials which demonstrate the lies and propaganda which were at the core of this regime.
3pm: We meet famous poet, Anna Blandiana. She discusses with us the suppression of cultural and literary expression that the nation experienced under communism. We discuss contemporary political problems, comparing experiences from different countries. One such problem is that of corruption and a lack of justice and transparency which inhibits authentic development in post-communist countries. We see the long-lasting effects of communism and the challenges that lie ahead of us in building a stronger future for our continent.
4pm: We visit a unique cemetary and read the prose on the colourful tomb stones.
4.30pm: We set off on our return journey, discussing questions of vocation and philosophy on the way. Some of us start to prepare tomorrow’s sessions..