On Friday 1st September we were offered an opportunity by Wellington College to accompany their prefects on a 4 day Leadership Event, taking place in Romania from 17th-21st September. The aim of the trip was to provide students as a collective with an opportunity to think about ways in which they can further embed student leadership in their respective schools, as well as being offered opportunities to experience what Romania has to offer. They stayed in lodges in the Transylvanian mountains. On their return the students are now writing a development plan for student leadership with key areas of focus across the school. Below is their report on the trip.
“Leadership is communicating to people their worth and potential so clearly that they are inspired to see it themselves” – Stephen Covey. This is one of the many quotes that we saw in the Transylvania College on our last day of the Leadership Trip to Romania. A very suitable quote to remember after a trip that was not only productive and inspiring but also astonishingly beautiful. Arriving in Romania we were greeted by Dan, the founder of the Transylvania College and the owner of the lodges we stayed at.
On the way to our first stop, a beautiful Germany inspired restaurant, we were driven through the city of Cluj-Napoca. Driving through the city we saw large, grey blocks of flats which were still there from Communist times and made the area look dull. What we didn’t expect was the stark contrast between the ugly Communist city blocks and the stunning country side, which pictures and writing truly do not do justice. While we were going through the city and towards the restaurant Dan briefly explained some of the history and Romania and Transylvania, which makes up approximately a third of Romania. Dan made clear that during Communism many people lived unhappy lives and after it ended a large number of people left Romania to go to countries such as Germany.
This later helped us to be more open about addressing issues we saw at our schools, praising the things we believed to be positive and to suggest some actions to take in the future so we can improve the negatives to help make the Academy a more enjoyable and productive school for everybody. Having the opportunity to do this in Transylvania was truly mind blowing and made us appreciate the ties our Academy has with the College. Being in Transylvania gave us the time and space we needed to thoroughly discuss and assess our plan of action and how we wanted to create and uphold a legacy we would be proud of.
On Monday we visited the first primary school which is for students up to year eight, and although it is very simple and small compared to an English standard it still felt like a positive environment that encouraged learning and community. The second primary school we visited, was considerably smaller. The building is a lot less modern compared to the first primary school but had an even stronger sense of community, even though it currently only has seven pupils from three year groups. This primary school had a very warm and welcoming feeling to it.
On Monday we also were able to explore a salt mine, the Salina Turda, which has been converted into a museum. This offered a nice break from thinking about education and our leadership responsibilities and allowed us to do some tourism of sorts. The tour guide showed us around, explaining how the salt used to be mined and transported. We were even allowed to try some of the salt that formed on the ceilings. Like the majority of the trip this was an astonishing experience that is worth considering.
On Monday and Tuesday we sat around a campfire with the Wellington College prefects while singing and listening to music. This brought us closer together and enhanced the experience, trust and understanding we had for one another, allowing the leadership discussions to be even more beneficial. On Monday we thought about what our most positive and our most negative experiences and events at Wellington had been and what key issues we saw at the Academy. This then lead to a dynamic and valuable discussion. Although Kyle and Jade were the winners of the Head Boy and Girl campaign we decided that joining together, enlisting the help of Kyla and I and bringing all of our ideas into one conversation would be extremely beneficial for the Wellington Academy and would ensure that we could cover as many areas as possible.
On Tuesday we also took part in a two hour hike to local farmers, who have lived in the area all of their life and who were self sufficient. Once we arrived we were allowed to enter the small houses of the farmers, which have the bedroom, kitchen and living room all in one room. There were many religious symbols in the houses, showing the countries strong religious beliefs. We gave the farmers some flour, sugar, oil, bread and canned food as a thank you and because they survive on only what they can provide themselves, which often is not a lot. The two hour hike back up to the lodges was even harder than the hike down but it was made more than bearable thanks to the beautiful view.
Wednesday, was a very active day for us, with a visit to a primary school, the visit to Transylvania College and then exploring Cluj-Napoca. Transylvania College is a very modern facility that was founded 25 years ago and currently holds around 670 students, from preschool age up until Sixth Form. As previously mentioned there were a lot of quotes for the students to read and remind them of their leadership duties and opportunities, which in turn reminded Jade, Kyla, Kyle and I of the change we can achieve at Wellington Academy along with the help of teachers/staff such as Shelly Willis and Miss Philip and the students.
This amazing opportunity not only enabled us to plan our actions for this school year as part of the Student Leadership but also brought us closer together and showed us how important it is to work together and that we can’t work better as a group, not alone.