An Amazing Nine Days in the Czech Republic

Solya K. (right), with her older sister, Serene

Hey everyone! My name is Solya, and I live in Chiang Mai, Thailand. I was born in America but raised in China. I have an older sister named Serene, and you may know her from the Brilliant Star blogs she used to write.

The two of us recently went to TFP, which is a Transformation for Peace workshop for junior youth in the Czech Republic, for ages 12–15. We had an amazing nine days there!

When we first arrived, some animators (youth mentors) picked us up from the airport, and we drove together to the Townshend School, which was where the camp would take place. They took our phones and electronic devices away first thing so we could be fully present during our time there.

Once we got in our dorms, we quickly unpacked and went downstairs to meet with our new friends. We played games, sang songs, and ate dinner together. In the mornings, the animators would wake us up by playing ukulele and singing till we would wake up. After we were ready, we would head downstairs to meet up with the rest of our friends for Sacred Spot. We would walk together to a beautiful forest to say prayers, chant songs, and share stories. Then we would all go to the cafeteria to eat breakfast.

We had opening of the day every morning, and that’s where we would talk about the plan, play games, and listen to music together. We had academic classes every morning where the animators would take parts of the Ruhi books and read them to us, teach us songs, and do skits and activities. 

At night, we had closing of the day, where we would enter the main meet-up room to say prayers. One of the animators would play piano while we came in. We all chanted together and shared what we liked about the day reverently.

We also had gala arts, where we could choose between dance, music, drama, spoken word, and film. Here is where we would prepare our performances for our last day together. We were put into small groups that were called assemblies. This is where we would get closer together as a group, talk, and work on filling in a book together.

On one of the days we had “cry night” or “Iran night.” This was an emotional time where the animators would perform skits about the heroism of the Bahá’ís in Iran, including skits of some of the martyrs. They would chain us together and lead us blindfolded into different rooms, where they would share stories and videos with us. We all cried, and it was a very sad night.

On some of the other days, we went to a waterpark, an adrenaline park where we ziplined, and visited a castle, as well as explored the town. The last day was gala night. We got our phones back and dressed up and took photos together. We performed our gala arts for our family and relatives, and what we had learned in academics class. The dance group (which my sister was in) danced different styles of dance in their performance, the music group sang songs, the drama group (which I was in) did a skit on the unity of the four elements: earth, fire, water, and air. The spoken word group shared poetry that they had written themselves, and the film group prepared videos of different virtues. They were all amazing.

In the academics performance, we shared what we had learned from the Ruhi books and chanted prayers. After a quick break, we quietly entered the room again for our last closing of the day. It was very dark inside, and we couldn’t see anything but the bright candles that were in the middle of the room. We said prayers together, and shared what we liked about the camp so far. Afterwards, the parents went to their hotels and we all stayed up, ate snacks, listened to our animator DJ, and danced so much. We all stayed up as long as we wanted—some of my friends stayed up until the next morning!

I had an amazing time at TFP and I can’t wait to go back again next year! Thank you to my aunt, who told us about this awesome camp, and thank you to all my friends and animators for making it the best experience ever! Love you all!

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