08 May Erik Birinyi’s global journey
Erik Birinyi is only in his first year of high school, but he is already set to take over the world and become a global citizen in all its right terms. His thirst for knowledge and bold attitude has already taken him a long way and his journey has only just begun. He is eager to make a difference and works very hard for this, wishing one day to become a leader of his generation.
His transition from a state school to Transylvania College in September 2017 was a natural one, as he felt that the educational system provided by the state did not help him fulfil his potential. Instead, he embarked on this journey and moved from his hometown to Cluj-Napoca even if it meant that he would move away from his family.
What he loves most about studying at Transylvania College is the school’s policy to invest in educational projects and the school’s commitment to turning the students’ ideas into practice. He appreciates the fact that he has the freedom to develop himself in a healthy way and explore the world and also learn new things about himself.
Erik’s schedule is packed, to say the least, with activities in the Eco Team, Child & Youth Finance International (CYFI) Team and the Model United Nations (MUN) Team. He also manages organisational aspects as House Captain for the Red Bears and attends international conferences. His schedule also includes water polo practice, as he has been playing water polo for 10 years. Erik’s passion for water polo was inspired by his father, who also practised this sport. He now took his passion to another level, being part of Romania’s National Team in different international competitions.
Despite his fully booked schedule, what keeps him going is the energy he receives from his friends and also the time he spends to take refuge in his thoughts after a long day.
Actually, as Erik puts it, if he could choose a superpower it would be that he does not have to sleep, as the days seem too short for him to do everything he would like to do.
When you first meet Erik, he sure strikes you as a very determined young man, with a clear mind and a coherent set of objectives, much more than you would expect from a regular Year 10 student.
When asked how he became such a driven person, he simply explains that he was always allowed to explore at his own will even when he was a child, which helped him discover what he was good at, what he liked and also helped him understand people and how to integrate easily in any group. During all his exploration, his parents took a close look at his actions and they offered him support and guidance. Erik feels that receiving unconditional emotional support from your close ones is essential for someone to develop in a healthy way. He also emphasised the importance of finding balance in his life and taking comfort in his safe zone, even though his daily life might seem overloaded with activities.
Although he has only enrolled at Transylvania College this year, he already took part in some important international events.
In January he went on a student exchange all the way to Tasmania, where he experienced the Australian culture for 2 months. He attended Scotch Oakburn College and lived in the boarding house. During the weekends a local family showed him around and helped him grasp a better understanding of the culture and day-to-day life in Tasmania. He also went on trips alone and visited Sydney, Melbourne and Flinders Islands.
I went alone to Tasmania and I discovered new things about myself, not just about the people I met. It is difficult to go to a new country, new school, without friends and discover and integrate with the society, but the feeling of completing such a hard challenge alone is absolutely indispensable for you to become mature and understand how to be an international citizen
His journey continued with the participation at the Bucharest International Student Model United Nations (BISMUN) conference, which is basically a simulation of a real United Nation conference. This is the biggest event of this type in Europe to which high school and college students attended. This opportunity enhanced his debate skills and showed him what it is like to put aside personal ideas in order to best represent the interests of a whole country. Erik represented Belgium in the discussion about the issue of political corruption and insecurity towards the land rights of indigenous peoples.
As a recognition of the number and the quality of his interventions in the debate, as well as for his overall performance during the conference, Erik won the Best Delegate Award. He also won the election for a non-permanent place as Belgium’s representative in the Security Council in the United Nations. This was only a simulation, but who knows? This simulation might very well turn into reality one day.
His interest and passion for global issues led him to participate at the Loudoun International Youth Leadership Summit in Sterling and Washington D.C., where he had the chance to make a difference by putting on the table viable solutions to global issues such as Collective Identity and Historical Preservation, Environment and Sustainability, Migrants and Refugees and Political Rights.
Erik’s plans for the future include studying International Law and applying to Harvard and Cambridge.
For the time being Erik wishes to share the knowledge gained so far, in order to perpetuate the global community spirit. As such, he already started working on organising an International Leadership Summit at Transylvania College in the following year. He plans to invite delegates from all around the globe to discuss certain leadership topic with experts. He already has the plan set up so we are looking forward to seeing his project put into action!