Hey, all! I’m back from my travels and my head is bloody and bowed - the reason being I have not written a blog post in over a month. *waaaaa waaaaa* Here’s a quick catch up on the past handful of weeks! If you make it to the end of this post, I’ll be impressed.
The drive through Slovakia will be hard to forget. There are mountains everywhere you look, cradled by cloud and mist with rolling green inclines that stretch for miles. The idiot that I am packed my camera back in the trunk, but I still captured what I could of the landscape around me (cell phone pics ftw).
We filmed 8 interviews with individuals we picked from the short term teams who came to the camps to serve and the national JV interns who were there for the entire summer. Their interviews will be used for two out of three video projects we shot this summer. The first video is about short term teams from the US & UK, the second is about nationals discipling other nationals, and the third about the C-team internship. I mostly interviewed each person we picked, but I was able to shoot using the gimbal and hold a reflector from time to time. I thought my team did a great job with alternating roles and responsibilities when we knew a shoot was coming up.
I found myself throughout the summer having a hard time finding the balance between being relational with the students vs. gathering the content JV needed - especially at the first camp in Slovakia. The average JV camp size, as of now, is around 30-40 students. But at this camp in Slovakia, there were 60 or more - and that was just the number students. In addition, there were 20-some staffers at the camp, totaling 80-some bodies. Because the camp was so large, the national leaders felt that it wasn’t our role to participate in all of the games or help out during the English classes.
Even though we were told to hold off on interacting 24/7 with the students, my team and I still walked away from week 1 feeling disappointed and a little bummed out because of our lack of participation. On our last day at the camp, we all sat down at breakfast and went over what we wanted to change for next week’s camp in Hungary.
I’d heard two things about Hungary:
1) the country is forever starved
2) it’s very flat
Upon arriving, I discovered that neither of these two things are true. Sure, compared to Slovakia, Hungary is flat. But it’s the type of flat that looks more like the classic Windows screen saver with the green rolling hills. But instead of the color green, picture a golden field of grain up against a significantly less photoshopped baby blue sky. That’s Hungary, or at least it is on a summer day in July near the village of Cseszneki Vár.
Maybe it’s because of the smaller camp environment or the resemblance Hungary has to home, but I felt incredibly at peace throughout the whole week. Even though we only filmed two interviews at the English camp, we were still tremendously glad Hungary was one of the countries we went to. We also were involved way more with the students and staffers, both American and Hungarian. The craziest day we had at camp was Survivor Day. The American and Hungarian staff members woke up the students at 5:30am for a day filled with scavenger hunts and team bonding challenges around the surrounding village. It was pretty epic to not only document, but to be a part of.
So remember how my team and I planned on going to Romania for our third and final camp? Well, that didn’t really happen. The day before we left we found out that our rental car company wouldn’t allow us to drive in any countries that have had any direct relations to Russia - and Romania is unfortunately one of those countries. Because of this obstacle, my team and I decided to go back to Slovakia to gather footage at a different camp in the village Ostrý Grúň. But before leaving Hungary, we were able to have a rest day in the city Győr. The guys stayed at a missionary’s flat near the main square while Kát’a and I stayed in an apartment owned by a friend of a missionary we met at the camp in Hungary. I was overwhelmed by how hospitable and generous strangers were to us as they freely offered to put us up for two nights in their homes.
As soon as we dropped our equipment off at the guy’s place, Kát’a and Lucas drove to Vienna to pick up our fifth teammate, Jacob, from the train station. Meanwhile, Marek and I grabbed some lunch and worked on personal projects. Later that evening, we walked around Győr with our Hungarian friends, Nori and Nil, who we connected with a lot at Media Academy. Győr is a beautiful city filled with open squares and the most European looking small alleyways. I wish we had more time to explore it, but I’m thankful for the amount of time we were given to rest.
It took us around three hours to get to Slovakia from Hungary. To give you an idea of how “out there” this village was, the leader of the camp had to send us its exact coordinates in order for us to find it. We arrived at the camp right before lunch, so we had just enough time to have a tour of the camp buildings and put our bags in our assigned rooms. Even though this camp was our shortest one, I felt like I bonded with the students more than I had at any other camp this summer. I especially connected with two Slovak girls, named Lucka and Tereza. By our third camp, we pretty much had filming / interviewing down.
We arrived back in Czech on the 21st with the other half of the C-team joining us soon after. We’ve been editing our content like crazy, but while we have our noses in our screens, we’re still managing to find time to enjoy these last two weeks before heading home. Last weekend, some of my teammates and I hiked Lysá Hora - a popular mountain in Frýdlant. Normally, I’m in Upstate New York for the summer where I hike at least once a week. It felt so good to smell bug spray on my body again and get outside for a few hours. This upcoming Sunday and Monday, the whole C-team will debrief the summer in the JV office and then on Tuesday we’ll head off to Prague to spend our last few days in the city of absolute magic.
I truly am excited to go home, which is strange. Why on earth would anyone want to return back to Indiana after a summer spent abroad? And the answer is: my community - my family, my boyfriend, my roommates, my good ole Indiana backroads that know me better than any Czech, Hungarian, Slovak one. And while traveling has been fun, I've realized just how important it is to be surrounded by your people and call them home. And I'm looking forward to doing just that.