The day began with an intriguing lecture by Philip Barker exploring the history of the Danube River and the stories of migrants residing along it. Beginning with the words of the famous yet tragic Hungarian poet Attila Jozsef, Philip likened the Danube river to the witness of history, in that it forms an unchanging nexus linking the past and present. One point I found especially interesting is the paradoxical nature of history—while it is the product of the past, there is no one single account of the story of history.
During the lecture, we learned that while the river transcends borders, it also creates (and even constitutes) new borders. For example, a shared identity is created when German colonists (Donauschwaben) were invited to settle lands along the Danube region, but at the same time this created ethnic conflict. Moreover, the fact that the river flows the “wrong way” means that it posed significant obstacles to movements along the Danube, thus the river also divided people. For instance in forming the border of the newly found state Czechoslovakia post World War One.
After the lecture we spent the hour selecting and editing photographs we took yesterday of a very nice Austrian lady (who preferred to remain anonymous) at the Austrian culture forum. We engaged in vigorous debates over which photo should be sent off—at last, we were able to settle this with democracy (we voted).
During the language session with Tina, we reviewed the formal and informal ways of asking and answering questions. We also learned how to express various course names in German. “Ich studiere Psychologie und sprachwissenschaft.” After the unfortunate incident of a fire alarm, we finished the session with the assignment to write a story in German.
At the end of the day, we discussed possible subjects to interview and film, and agreed on a meeting time in the weekends; and this marks the end of a fun yet (extremely) exhausting week!
We started off the day with a fascinating lecture on the history of Danubian regions, particularly regarding highways and floods. We also explored the rich history of how the Danube was used and how its different cultures have influenced each other and changed together. What I found quite gruesome was how prisoners were forced into dragging boats across the river as the current went the opposite direction, to the wealth, where the boats were travelling towards.
After the lecture, we went to our academic tutorials where the rest of the group saw the initial portrait of Sabrina. The following hour was spent finalising the portrait through editing, and writing a short paragraph on what we learnt about Sabrina in the interview.
At 2:15, we headed over to our language session where Romana showed us the specific Romanian features of the Danube. We explored the different Romanian cities along the Danube and were shown the beauty of the Danube Delta, which is located in Romania. She also introduced us to key Romanian vocabularly to do with the Danube. This session piqued our interest of the country further, especially from the stunning photos we were shown.
To end the day, we had a project tutorial where we discussed plans for our short documentary. Unfortunately, Sabrina did not want to be filmed, so we considered different ways of finding another subject. After coming up with several ideas to explore over the weekend, we bid adieu and went home after a very exhausting week.
By Noorjahan Hossain
Today Philip Barker talked about migration along the Danube and the ethnic diversity among its people. For example, he highlighted that Attila Jozsef – one of the greatest Hungarian poets – had Romanian and Szekely heritage next to his Hungarian one. It was interesting to find that in the 17th century people had little knowledge of the geography of the river. For example a military map from this period did not show the bend of the Danube in northern Hungary. Phil demonstrated how the people of the river tried to regulate it to make it more navigable. The lecture also provided a brief outline of the natural environment that can be found along the Danube.
In our academic tutorial we chose our essay topics and some of us started to write them. They will cover a range of topics including Ukrainian music, literature and cinema.
For our fourth language lesson, we gained a more solid base in terms of our numeral knowledge through playing bingo. We also started to learn how to say different kinds of buildings such as church and port. Marta provided an insight into the region of the Ukraine where the Danube flows though.
Tom and Conor
In the morning lecture, we learnt about the history of Danube regions. The Danube river has both brought people together and separated them. Philip Barker brought his expertise on the subject of linguistics and included some thoughts about his research on political language in 18th Century Hungary. We also learnt a little about the tragic life of Hungarian poet Attila József – whose name, thanks to our language lessons, we can now all confidently pronounce.
In addition, we found out about people who were encouraged to settle in different areas in the Danube region and had also brought their cultures for integration. For example, the German/Hungarian catholic church in today’s Novi Sad in Serbia marked the migration of German and Hungarian colonists. Croatian pagan ceremony is also a unique feature in Mohács of Hungary.
However, conflict existed along with cooperation in the Danube regions. When German colonists settled in other places, they brought not only new technology, but also their cultures which were against by local inhabitants as Germanisation. Such conflicts were accumulated and eventually resulted in many of the tragedies. One of which is Holocaust. A story from today’s lecture was about the Shoah memorial in Budapest. Jews during the Second World War were taken to Danube to be shot and pushed into the river. Before their execution, they were required to take their shoes off. All those shoes left by the bank became the strongest proof of this genocide in Hungary. The statues of shoes that commemorate this are used to warn people never to forget this history.
We finally found a Hungarian who can be the subject of our project! Thus, after the lecture, we went to the dentist where she works to meet with her. She is an extremely bubbly person who appeared very keen to tell us about her life. We split up into groups so as not to overwhelm her. Some of us took up the task of photographing her, others planned for the documentary footage and some of us wrote this log book.
-Amy and Yiwei from the Hungarian Team
The Yiddish group of the Danube has started to explore Yiddish life in London.
Our exploration is taking place in many form: Through Yiddish lessons with our language teacher Barry Davis, by talking to members and ex-members of the Yiddish community in London and by visiting places of cultural significance such as the Jewish Cultural Centre JW3 on Finchley Road, the Ben Uri Gallery, the Wiener Library for the study of Holocaust or the Orthodox community in Stamford Hill.
The Yiddish crew filming in Bloomsbury
Today, before lunch, we discussed the meaning and origins of the Danube river, how it shaped people’s lives and the development of cultures that are situated along the Danube. Within our groups we extrapolated and analyzed this idea in relation to other big rivers, in particular, the Thames in London and the Dnipro in Ukraine, by comparing the meaning that they had in the past and now.
After lunch, we concentrated on the different aspects of Romanian culture that are known to the people outside the country. In particular, we looked at the lives of famous Romanian sculptors and musicians working in the UK, whose ideas largely influenced local artists. In addition, we touched on the places where one can experience Romanian cuisine in London. We also learnt Romanian vocabulary that would be required to navigate around the city.
In the evening, three members of our group went to interview a Romanian woman, Sabrina, who kindly agreed to be the subject of our portrait. She told us about her reasons for moving to London and shared lots of fascinating experiences linked to her migration. She also explained what she gained from living in London, what she could not have gotten back home in Romania. It was very interesting to learn how despite being extremely pleased with all the opportunities that she has now and her profound love of London, she remains deeply Romanian with a strong sense of her initial cultural identity.
By Anna Tarasenko
It was a fantastic day. I woke up to a rare bright sunny day, a rare sight in London, to jump start an equally scarce day which combines a wonderful trip out of central London, with great friends, and – of course – an increase in my understanding of central European cultures on the Danube bank side. After the lecture in the morning, we set off on an adventure to find the model for our portrait. Finding the subject for the photo portrait was challenging but having discovered several Serbian establishments in London the day before, we decided to venture to a Serbian café with the best prospect… and ĆEVAPI.
As we saw the grand display of excellent Serbian culinary heritage, it was deemed that a group photo was in order and thus a concession was made that we would have to ask a gentleman sitting on the next table from us to help capture the moment. Coincidentally, whether by chance, the sheer volume of our conversation or its contents, the gentleman revealed that he was from Macedonia.
Eyes lit up. Cutlery put down.
At that moment, we knew,
we’ve found him.
We found our subject.
Empowered by our recently obtained knowledge regarding the ways to approach strangers a conversation was smoothly engaged. He confirmed and surpassed our expectation as the story of his life and time in London panned out to be even more astonishing than any of us had anticipated. After one full hour of conversation, he agreed to become the crucial part of our project and to even visit the exhibition later. We left with a satisfied stomach, and a finished task.
Somewhat regrettably, the prolonged time of the interview meant that we missed our scheduled Serbian language lesson but, consequently, Jelena the teacher happily agreed to teach us in the park instead. And all was well. It was, indeed, a fantastičan dan.
On Thursday morning, our group split into two halves. One half went to the Bulgarian Orthodox Church to interview V.Revd. Simeon Iliev about his experiences of migrating to and living in London, and the other half remained with the other “strands” of the Danube to listen to a lecture on Danubian Culture and Global Citizenship. During this lecture we explored the cultural significance of the Danube and how its presence through Europe as shaped civilisations along and around it through history. We also were introduced to the idea of the Danube as a microcosmic representation of globalisation, with the increased inter-reliance and communication between the groups of people living on the banks of the Danube.
After lunch, the two halves of our group were reunited, and we had a language lesson on how to introduce ourselves in Bulgarian – and practiced it till we could do it fluently. We also learnt about the close-knit Bulgarian community in London and how Bulgarians come together to form a cultural hub where those who newly immigrate can easily integrate into.
In the morning, we attended a filmmaking workshop by Dieter Deswarte, who taught us the key skills we will need to shoot our documentary on a Romanian migrant. After learning theories on shots, angles and editing, we were given the chance to film and edit our own short scene. We filmed a short clip of Noorjahan buying and eating her lunch. Dieter gave us feedback on the sequence we filmed, suggesting it could be improved by avoiding shots of the subject in front of the natural light.
Afterwards, we learnt basic Romanian grammar in the language session. Although it was slightly difficult to grasp the different verb forms, tenses, and cases, it was very interesting and enlightening to be to understand how the Romanian linguistic system works.
Later on, in the project tutorial, we managed to contact a Romanian student to interview and photograph for our poster.
By Heidi Chan
In our first lecture today we investigated the paradoxes that the Danube river has displayed throughout history. We saw how the river itself can be thought of as both new and old; the main course stays the same, but new material constantly flows down it. The Danube also allows civilisations and societies to flourish and develop but at the same time can be deadly due to floods, dangeous currents, etc. In addition, the Danube throughout history has allowed different societies to interact and meet, but at the same time has prevented contact between different people, keeping them apart from each other. Conflict and cooperation are another paradoxical element; the Danube connects countries and allows soldiers to sail up the river and invade but also allows trade to occur.
We then had a lecture on how to interact with strangers and convince them to take part in our Citizenship programme, in our portrait photos. We explored different scenarios, each one a different difficult situation we may have to deal with, and how to overcome them.
Finally, we had our third Hungarian lesson – today we moved on from simple expressions to learning about the intricate grammar of the Hungarian language. We learnt about vowel harmony, and how there are ‘front’ and ‘back’ vowels, and we also revised how to refer to our nationalities. Eszter also talked about cultural aspects and recent history in Hungary, such as the Sziget festival and the ‘Shoes on the Danube Bank’ memorial. Overall, today we had another eye opening and exciting session on Hungary, and we are one step closer to becoming Global Citizens.
– Darius and Tahmid from the Hungarian team