EUROPEAN LEGENDS – NATIONAL LITERARY HEROES REPORT ON THE 4th TRANSNATIONAL MEETING
6th – 16th APRIL 2021
KA2 – Cooperation for innovation and the exchange of good practices
The fourth transnational meeting of the Erasmus + KA2 project “European Legends- National Literary Heroes” was held between 6-16 April, 2021. at Liceul Teoretic “Orbán Balázs”, Cristuru-Secuiesc, Romania. Due to the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the mobility had to be carried out online. After consulting the National Agencies we had several discussions with the partners using Google Meet to work out the framework of the online exchange and establish the ways in which the objectives of the project can be achieved in an online setting.
Trying to accommodate everyone’s needs, we chose the dates for the online events, discussed the number of participating students and teachers and decided on using the tools provided by Google Workspace for Education to carry out the activities. Thence a Google Classroom was created by the host school, which was joined by all the participants in the exchange. Besides allowing for sharing information and tasks with teachers and students, this also made it possible for everybody to join the online sessions using Google Meet.
Day 1 – 6th of April, 2021
The first day of our online mobility kicked off with a welcoming session streamed on Google Meet to all the participants. The participating students and teachers from Liceul Teoretic “Orbán Balázs” got together in the school library, where all the necessary equipment – including a smart board, several laptop computers, cameras and microphones – had been set up to fulfil the technical requirements of the online event.
The meeting started with performances by the students of the host school: Kamilla Simó singing a hymn of Saint Ladislaus followed by traditional folk dances performed by our students wearing their national costumes.
Following greetings by the host school and from the partners, the participants’ expectations were surveyed using menti.com.
Next we presented a few short videos about our school, the town of Cristuru-Secuiesc and the historic region of Transylvania to give the participants a glimpse of the places connected to our project and the legend of Saint Ladislaus.
The participants were then invited to take part in a Kahoot quiz to test their knowledge of Transylvania, which gave the audience a chance to sample the multicultural diversity of this land.
The afternoon activities were dedicated to the presentation of the creative works centred upon the legend of Saint Ladislaus: “Prince Ladislaus rescues the kidnapped Hungarian maiden”. The students took turns describing the way they had been working for months in order to create beautiful drawings, digital photos, songs, poems, short films and an online escape room inspired by the legend. Seeing a story from the distant past resonate with so many young people living in separate environments gives us hope for the future and vouches for the relevance of the kind of work we carry out in this project.
The final session of the day was meant to foster student interaction, allowing the students to get to know each other while discovering major sights in the town of Cristuru-Secuiesc with the help of Google Earth. Six international groups were created, each group led by one of the host students, who were encouraged to work together at times mutually agreed on Tuesday through Thursday, in order to solve the tasks associated with each sight marked on the map. They had to plan their journey to Cristuru-Secuiesc and issue themselves train tickets for the virtual trip they were about to make, they had to take a ‘group selfie’ on top of the highest point in town, dress up as an Orbán Balázs lookalike, write the name of their hometowns using the traditional Székely script, personify the statue of the ‘Girl with a sieve’, recite poems by and about Sándor Petőfi in different languages, create a coat of arms to represent their team, invent an identity for a knight depicted on a clay stove-tile and indicate the distance to and the direction of their hometowns by placing signs in the Memorial Park of Cristuru-Secuiesc.
Day 2 – 9th of April, 2021
The 2nd day of our online project meeting started with a lecture by researcher Ede-Zsolt Balla, who enlarged upon the way the figure of Saint Ladislus was perceived and depicted in several murals found in Transylvanian churches, explaining the rich symbolism hiding in the details. By his presentation he successfully conveyed the message that there is more to a painting than meets the eye, and gave the students a lesson in how one’s approach to art can elicit meanings hitherto undisclosed. The lecture was followed by an exchange of ideas and comments by the participants which led to the discovery of several features our art and culture have in common.
The second module of the day consisted of presentations about Ferenc Zsidó, the contemporary Transylvanian writer, author of several fiction and non-fiction books, editor-in-chief of the Székelyföld magazine, who we invited to collaborate with us during the project. Being a teacher of Hungarian literature himself, he had conducted a workshop with our students dwelling on using the technique of changing perspective to help identify new meanings in a literary text. He also provided the students with a rewritten version of the legend of Saint Ladislaus from the kidnapper’s point of view. Being able to relate to different characters in a story, even empathising with them, is an ability that can be turned into a life-skill which can help us solve conflicts and develop better relationships. The presentations consisted of a short overview of his works through a PPT presentation by Andrea Baksa, class XIA, a reading of Ferenc Zsidó’s version of the legend by Attila Csomor (XIA) and a video based on the workshop he held for our students.
The rest of the day was spent on doing the creative assignment entitled “So what’s your story?” Each of the six groups of students was given elements of the five legends within the scope of the project which they had to combine in a new story invented by them. The mandatory characters, the settings and the events were selected by using the website wheeldecide.com to add the task an element of suspense and fun.
Day 3 – 13th of April, 2021
For more insight into the culture of Transylvania we started off with a live broadcast from the medieval old town of Sighisoara, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The trip was like a time-travel experience, taking us back into the age when the events in our legend happened. Besides providing our audience with a virtual tour of different sights of historical importance, we also showed them around the building the famous ruler Vlad Tepes was born in, in connection with the most well-known legend when it comes to Transylvania: that of Dracula. The tour ended in the open-air gallery of the museum located in the clock tower, allowing the audience to enjoy spectacular views of the town and its natural surroundings.
Returning to Cristuru-Secuiesc we went on to present our visit to Székelyderzs, another UNESCO World Heritage site, famous for a fresco depicting scenes from the legend of Saint Ladislaus dating from the 15th century. Unitarian minister Sándor-Lóránd Demeter showed us around the fortified church speaking about long-time traditions and major historical events in the region. The video the students made during our visit was presented with English subtitles and focused on the importance of preserving our cultural heritage amidst ever-changing times.
In line with this idea, we presented a relatively new initiative to our audience, which gave them an example of how our legacy can be preserved and promoted on an international scale. The Székely Legendárium project started in 2008 in Odorheiu-Secuiesc and aims to collect and publish the legends of the Carpathian basin. They first created an illustrated map of the region decorated with scenes from the legends, then published a series of paper-based, audio and coloring books. In 2012 they founded an animation studio where they now produce a cartoon series based on the legends. They also organize lots of cultural events to celebrate our vast legendry. In the weeks preceding our project week we had visited their studio and had interviewed Szabolcs Fazakas, the founder and coordinator of the project. The recording of the interview with footage illustrating their work was presented to the participants in the project together with short films and an animated story by courtesy of the Székely Legendárium team.
In order to put the idea of promoting our legends into practice, the students were then asked to design an advertisement for one of the five legends using digital tools.
Day 4 – 16th of April
The final day of our virtual mobility started at the Mayor’s Office in Cristuru-Secuiesc, where mayor Hunor-János Koncz greeted the participants and invited them for a real visit in the future. We then went on to provide a live tour of our town centre, the local museum and the most famous sight in Cristuru-Secuiesc: Sándor Petőfi’s pear tree, the site where his last poem was written.
Back in our school library each group of students presented the work they had done during the week. It was a rewarding experience to see how well they had managed to work together and how many beautiful things they had created.
The closing ceremony took place in the school library and was attended by headmistress Dr. Ilona Szatmári and chief school inspector Levente Demeter, who both addressed the audience. Participating students and teachers commented on their experience and in place of the traditional farewell dinner we presented our students’ video of a traditional Transylvanian meal.
Having neither previous experience nor specific guidelines as to how a mobility should be carried out online, we have done our best to provide our virtual guests with a useful and enjoyable learning and cultural experience, hoping that the quality of the time we spent together was good enough to make us want to meet each other in person sometime in the future.