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« Keep calm and eat Sarmale »; the testimony of a M&L student from Arago high school (Perpignan) about the meeting with their twins in Buzău

« The young and French students we are, got the chance to participate to an exchange program from the first to 8 December along with an incredible and hidden country named Romania.

First, let us define what it is all about. Our high school the « lycée François ARAGO » in Perpignan, South of France, is involved into the project « MATh.en.JEANS » thanks to Miss Diumenge, a maths teacher. Thus, she could create the workshop « Graine de chercheurs* » which is based on working on Maths in another way. This year is quite special because we must make all the research in English and a new teacher joined us, Miss Queru.

Miss Queru supporting the students.

Therefore, the journey started when the plane landed in Bucharest. It was the evening, the night even, and we had to find the hostel, feet in cold pools. The next day, a Bucharest visit was planned, and we met the Romanian teachers and some correspondents. Discovering the capital allowed us to share the first moments of friendship, both within the French group (everyone didn’t know the whole group yet) and the Romanian one. For lunch, we ate our first « Sarmales », the famous traditional meal from Romania. Those little mincemeat balls surrounded with cabbage were… Yummy! At the end of the afternoon, the bus took us to Buzau, a little town in Eastern Romania. There, everybody got make acquaintance with their respective correspondents. We spent the first evening with our « loan » family. Sunday, last day before we started working, we shared some ice-skating adventure! That was very funny because we weren’t used to ice-skating compared to Romanian students. Some of us were taught their first lesson!

The ice-skating experience!

We spent the rest of the week investigating our Maths topics and discovering a new culture. Despite of the fact the education system is very different; we succeeded in working together bounded by the love of math.

Students involved into collaborative work on their shared research topics.

We could participate to an amazing conference by the famous Romanian teacher, Bogdan Enescu. We could present our subject’s advancement at the end of the week, in English! (At least we tried). The 6 December was a great day. Indeed, Romania don’t celebrate Christmas as much as other countries but “Nicolas day”. Certain of us got the surprise to receive some presents in their shoes, another clue which show the families’ kindness. Romanian students reserved us a last surprise with a show, and especially the resume of “Je vole” of Michel Sardou by a young Romanian girl I thought very affecting.  The last evening, we shared a last moment together during a party, last smiles, last laughter before to come back in France.

Arago students presenting their work.. in English!

If we want to resume this journey by a quote, « Do not listen to what they say. Go see » is the best one. All of the pupils and teachers who lived this unforgettable journey are longing to go back. People we met will stay in our memories and I hope the relationships tied will go on for a long time. »

*The Maths&Languages workshop’s name in Arago.