It was on the 14th of November, at night, when everything started. Two introverts, two cities and two buddy-exchanges that were waiting to happen.
First destination: Athens. When Kriszta arrived in her host’s house she felt like home. Here, just like in her hometown, the streets were so busy and there where no parking places. Loriana, on the other hand, felt like the universe was collapsing since her city had changed completely. It was the worst week, a visit from president Obama, strikes all over the city and the celebration of a national holiday in Greece had the whole city disorganized. Next to Loriana’s nagative feelings, Kriszta -the enthusiastic girl- was amazed with everything she encountered in this new city, even the mandarin trees that Greeks hardly appreciate for their beauty. Moreover, she admired the Greek culture and tradition that she got to know by walking around the city, listening to ancient stories from her new friends, drinking inomelo (a Greek traditional drink) and, of course, eating souvlaki. But the most important thing for Kriszta was to see the open sea and to let her mind wander and make up stories about the sea; how it was, how it is, and how it could be. The blue waters of Greece inspired her to believe that the world could be a better place if we dream BIG. Soon, she felt complete when she saw that these dreams could come true in a meeting with Loriana’s volunteer group. Talking with them about making the world different. Kriszta left Athens with some memories that will be etched in her mind forever and that she will relive again.
Next and last stop: Targu Mures. But to go there the two girls had to travel a lot. And eat. Lots and lots of traditional food. Loriana was surprised to eat things that she never thought she would. But after all, she was traveling and traveling itself is like magic. This trip to visit her buddy was not about city-touring or buying souvenirs. It was a time to explore herself, the town she visited and its history. Since Kriszta had a lot of obligations to keep – and she was anxious about them- she simply showed Loriana her everyday life. But what she didn’t realize is that this gave Loriana the key to open the door to another world. A world with a different religion, a different way of thinking and acting. Loriana learned how to be more spontaneous, live in the moment and enjoy the small things in life. Besides, she also learned how to give a speech: in collaboration with Kriszta, Loriana gave a seminar about Greek culture in Kriszta’s Youth Association.
Looking back, these two visits were not just Buddy Exchanges. The two girls came really close together. They cried, they laughed, they watched a marathon of Harry Potter movies, they got bored and happy again, they shared their knowledge and, to never forget this experience got two bonding tattoos on the same foot.
Written by Loriana and Kriszta, NOW participants and students.