Day 8 – Romanian Group – Sharing our curiosity

By Maria Florutau, navigator and log usurper.

Comandeering the log, I am sharing a descriptive photo of our day, spent finishing our projects. I am also sharing my sense of amazement and pride at the curiosity, empathy and dedication that my students brought into this journey to discover Romania for all its, good, bad and complex. It is what global citizenship means to me. Thank you, girls, I hope all my students will be as great as you!

Sailing on the Danube with the Hungarians – Day 8

Our penultimate day on the Global Citizenship Programme consisted of this:

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And this…

And more of this…

And finally with some well deserved pizza –


After over 12 hours in the SELCS Common Room – or as we know it ‘home’, we finally finished our documentary!


Day 8 in the Serbian Group

Today is Day 8 and we will end our program tomorrow. It is our last chance to edit our documentary, so we are spending the whole day on it.

This morning we went to Dieter’s Film Clinic. We showed our film to Dieter to gain some helpful advice from a professional. We received some good feedback so we were really pleased! All of our group members feel incredibly proud of what we’ve created together and we cannot wait to share it with everybody else in the Plenary Session tomorrow. Who knows – maybe it will be shown at the Closing Festival too?

So far we have written two essays. Emma wrote one about Serbian food and I wrote one about EXIT Festival, a topic I found really interesting in one of Jelena’s Language and Culture classes. Our next focus is the Roma population in Serbia. We shall be uploading our next essay as soon as possible.

Hope we will have a lovely ending tomorrow!



Day 7- German Group

This is the day 7 of the Danube program. In the morning we had a film clinic where the film we made is checked by the professional. The subject of our documentary can only speak well in German, and she spoke a German with a strong accent, which made it relatively difficult to translate and make a transcript. The German she spoke was Google translated, we did get a brief understanding of what she was talking about, but it was weird. We end up shortened the video to 3 mins 35 seconds, which was a big progress.

When my friends were in the film clinic, I went to look upon the foreigner talk we are going to do later in the day. I will be in the front of the panel with my history friend, so we got to work it out.

Later we had a language session with Tina, although I can see my language sense in German is getting better but still lost the track sometime. I am still writing the Chinese pinyin and Japanese Katakana under each line of German to assist the pronunciation. The words in German are so long and hard to pronounce. Then we tried to translate short stories in German which was like solving a code. I really should bring a dictionary with me.

In the afternoon is the highlight of the day, the students’ panel on “Foreigner Talk Workshop”. From most of the team 2 people went to the front and so about 16 in total are in the front. Other group started their 5 mins talk. The format of the talk was unexpected. I thought it is going to be a question-and-answer session but it was not. So actually I was preparing the script on the stage when other groups were speaking. It freak me out especially when that girl from Yiddish (?) group make the talk like a speech for an election campaign. People were so good at public speaking.

The speech went well I would say. I talked more about how we found the subjects and how they reacted to it, and how I found the program itself overall. I said it has been quite interesting to know about the culture in the Eastern Europe and it actually has encouraged me to travel there sometime. I talked about how much we have travelled to find an Austrian and the numerous refusals we got, and an awkward moment when I invited someone for interview and we end up finding she was an Australian but not Austrian. The lady in the front asked me how those two sounds different in Japanese which I answered. Overall I think people have enjoyed my short talk. My history friend talked more into the contents of the interview which had more insight on the subject.

Then we had a panel discussion where initially the lady in the front said it is going to be 10 minutes but it ends up being 35 minutes long. People discussed what is meant to be a global citizenship and some people may would like to be but others may not. Then it is the whole lots I was not able to follow, what I think was that people were so intelligent in this room and that Linguistics talked too much.

After that discussion we went to the basement of Waterston where the picture exhibition was to be held. We say the portrait that we took. I was so proud of it. I would say that our picture is the most colourful of the all. I saw other pictures there as well but I think we took the best one. Alongside the portrait exhibition there was an art exhibition and another photo exhibition, and another lengthy research talk which I believe no one in that room was able to follow. There was a world map where you could put a pin on the place where you are from. It was so annoying that they did not draw Taiwan on the map. (Or they misplaced, but I think that was the place for Philippine) We had a picture with our picture at the end.

We had a Bulgarian barbeque outside the print room café later on, which my Bulgarian friend said it is just a normal barbeque. The cheese on the salad was Bulgarian, she said. Then we finished the day.





Yiddish Crew Log 3

Through one of our group members, we got in contact with Izzy, a former member of the ultra-orthodox Jewish community in London, who is currently studying in Birkbeck University. He shared generously his take on Yiddish culture and Judaism. For us as students of Yiddish culture, this was a fascinating experience. We are taught Yiddish through songs and texts, which are often more than a hundred years old. Thus, it was a great opportunity to meet someone our own age who grew up speaking Yiddish in present day London.


To Izzy, it was a pity that the original diversity and sophistication of the Yiddish language was badly impaired after the Holocaust. With occasional exposure to the secular world, his curiosity about the ‘outside world’ grew and he started teaching himself English, which explained to him concepts apparently missing in the Yiddish culture. He began to read prohibited books of philosophy, literature and science at the age of eighteen. When he was describing to us his decision on leaving the community, he appeared easy and not having any regrets, but to me, a decision that cuts the connection from his parents, siblings and subsequently the entire orthodox community would never be an easy one.

Now being in his twenties, Izzy grasps every opportunity to quench his thirst for knowledge. Besides the fact that he pursues a degree of Math and Physics in Birkbeck University, he also decided to become an atheist, while retaining his connection with Judaism. After all religion is a personal choice and Izzy is enjoying the freedom to build a future in the midst of diverse culture in London.

Serena & the Crew

Sailing on the Danube with the Hungarians – Day 7

Wednesday is slightly different from previous schedules as we are now approaching the deadline for documentary film submission! Given the day for film editing, we are also provided the opportunity called ‘Foreigner Talk’, which a number of guest speakers will give an interesting lecture on cultural/linguistic relevant for about 30 minutes. There are two main sessions, each lasts for 2 hours (4 lectures per session), with one hour lunch break. Due to the slight confusion of the room location of the talk, there were not many at the start of the lecture, but more and more were attending later in the session. The first lecture was given by Dr Eszter Tarsoly who made a brief introduction by talking about her PhD thesis. She also proposed a number of questions relating to daily life and our language use. For example, she mentioned about her experience of being asked whether she was a Polish in a café. It turned out that almost everyone has more or less a stereotype or perception on how people from a particular region should pronounce certain languages. More interestingly, when such a stereotype does not fit the reality, people’s first instinct would go ‘oh, you don’t sound (stereotypical nationality)/you can’t be (stereotypical nationality)’ rather than ‘so my stereotype is not correct’. This phenomenon triggered our curiosity about linguistics and cultures. The second lecture by Dr Froso Argyi focused exclusively on linguistics, particularly childhood. The topic ‘heritage language’ has been so important as nowadays a substantial amount of people are at least bilingual. Moreover, of those people, there are many who have parents speaking one language whilst grown up in a different language setting. She talked a lot about why maintaining heritage language (the language one acquired that is not spoken in the majority environment) is important and how we can do that. Her proposal of ‘healthy linguistic diet’ sounded really interesting, and her talk on how being bilingual can affect our daily life (e.g. being beneficial to our health) made us really think about how we should balance/acquire new languages in this rapidly globalised world. Dr Kim Schulte who is currently in Spain gave us the third lecture via Skype. Amazing to try a Skype lecture and see him being so engaged. His lecture turned more specifically to one type of people – Romanians who immigrated to Spain. The similarity of Romanian and Spanish made Romanian immigrants quickly settled in the new country and they could easily adapt to a new language without feeling loss of home. However, what is particularly special is the second generation. As they tend to be able to fluently switch between Romanian and Spanish (Valencian too!), they gradually developed a new language which mixes Spanish and Romanian. This language is later interpreted as their unique (bi)cultural identity. This interpretation is so engaging as many of us here at UCL are also bilingual, it seems fun if we actually do a small research to see whether bilingual/multilingual students do create a special language and whether they represent their unique cultural identity!

-Yeiwei from the Hungarian Group

Day 7 in the Serbian Group


After 2 long days of filming, with tuesday being especially difficult owing to the beloved London’s weather, the editing team continued to put on as much an effort as ever. As for the rest of us, this day stands to be the busiest day throughout the whole program indeed. Within our modestly numbered team of 6 students and 1 navigator, the list of things to do and talks to attend were overwhelming but we did our best to be experience everything that was offered today. Luckily, the morale was high as we awaits the long awaited opening of the exhibition and the following receptions.

At precisely 14.15 UK time, we regrouped at the Roberts building for our Serbian language session with Jelena who was wonderful, as always. The class proved to be a fine entertainment as we indulged in the unusual beats of Serbian traditional music, while learning the extraordinarily jolly meanings of the lyrics.

Precisely an hour later, having had no breaks since the sun emerged that very day, we left for the mysterious student panel. I was one of the participants on the panel, and this part of the day has been what I waited for. The discussion went on interestingly as different opinions unraveled but, unfortunately, we had to leave for the highlight: the exhibition. The photos were presented well and captivating, and our subject who came was terribly pleased at the turn out, and so were we.

After the exhibition, it was time to relax, as we were treated to free drinks and food. And at the end of the day, we were happy.


Serbian – Day 6: Tasting of the Serbian Food and Fighting the Elements

After the interesting and engaging lectures on the Romani Culture along the Danube, we had an intense and challenging shooting of our documentary in the heavy rain. It was truly the biggest test we have faced so far as we were all soaked to the bone! The effort nevertheless paid off since we managed to get some incredible shots of our subject.

Moreover, we were also rewarded by our lovely language teacher Jelena. She cooked us an absolutely amazing cheese burek – a salty pastry made of a thin flaky dough – which we enjoyed with a jar of mild ajvar. Ajvar, also known as “Serbian salad,” is usually made of grilled red bell peppers and possibly other vegetables such as garlic or eggplants and it is consumed along many dishes, including meat, or simply as a bread spread. We finished our feast with a cup of a traditional strong coffee prepared in a typical coffee pot called džezva.

IMG_0628.JPGOverall, despite, or maybe because of the heavy rain and hard conditions, we had an incredible time today. We were working as a team, taking turns in holding the umbrella above the camera and we laughed together over the fantastic food. Hopefully, tomorrow will be at least as good as today.

Vidimo se!


Day 6 – Romania Group: Romany Culture, Romanian Festivals and Interviewing a Romanian Migrant

Day 6 started with a double lecture about Romany culture and status in Eastern Europe: the first, an interactive one from Michael Stewart that introduced us to this new aspect of life on the Danube, and the second, an account of Annabel Tremlett’s experiences in the region while conducting research into the lives of the Roma people. After this, we finally got to meet our interviewee for our documentary, Cristina, and we spent some time with her asking questions about her opinions on Romania, London and of course, Brexit.

We then ventured back to UCL for our Romanian language class, where we learnt about traditional festivals in Romania, many of which also focus on the Danube, as well some vocabulary about holidays. To conclude the day, we had a project tutorial to discuss our plans for the film, and preparing for the opening of our exhibition tomorrow evening.

By Tegan Carter


German Group – Day 6

Day 6 of Global Citizenship program started with 2 interesting and engaging lectures on the Roma by Dr Stewart and Dr Tremlett. Dr Stewart’s lecture was really interesting and a step away from the normal passive teaching, as he had styled his lecture around an interactive game, using the Kahoot Program. We were presented with 10 questions, each accompanied by 4 different options, and the game moves on after everyone had answered. It was really interesting as the program also provides a statistical breakdown of each option and many times, it seems that the popular majority vote was in fact, incorrect. Dr Stewart then explained each option and provided us with more information. Through his lecture, we learnt a lot more about the Roma, their culture as well as their language in a really fun and engaging way.

The second lecture by Dr Tremlett, who focused more on her own ethnographic research with the Roma People. She told us how she came to be interested in the Roma people and their culture, and stories of her research while in Hungary. It is really interesting to hear about her experiences interacting with both the Roma community and the Hungarian community and the problems that she met along the way. Something that really struck me was her experience with racism and stereotypes. She talked about how even really nice people seemed racist and growing up in an anti-racist environment, that was something she was very uncomfortable with. Yet, later on, during her research, she came to realize that she herself had been unconsciously perpetuating some of the stereotypes of the Roma community.  I feel like I can relate to her experience as growing up, I was constantly surrounded by people from different races. Racial harmony and accepting people from different races was something that we grew up with but I did realise, there are times certain stereotypes are still thrown around and that sometimes prevent us from truly getting to know others from different races and backgrounds.

After the lectures, we met up to discuss more about our documentary. Now that we have our raw footage and interview done, it was time to start editing. After discussing on how we were going to tackle it, we got ready to head off to language class. During the language lesson today, we learnt more about the Danube, about the terms relating to the river, such as the animals living in and around the Danube, as well as the activities that can be carried out on the Danube. We also learnt more about ordering food and drinks in German.