Stories of Transylvania: BYU students collect folklore

Published: Monday, Oct. 29 2012 5:00 p.m. MDT

"It was a traumatic event for all Hungarians involved," he said. "In Transylvania there is a border … hotly disputed, they are all vying for Transylvania and the country it belongs to. You can say 'I don't care, I am a Hungarian and nothing can change that,' but with time there is this natural erosion that takes place. You can't stay a Hungarian forever unless you're within that nation's border.

"If you can't positively identify yourself as either Hungarian or Romanian, you've lost the ability to identify yourself nationally," Lienenbach said. "So, how do you identify yourself?"

In most cases, the students found that people did identify in ways other than nationally. They either defined themselves as Szekely (an old Hungarian tribe), by means of town, village or hamlet, or — most radically — simply as themselves.

"We would really like to go back and look at that issue particularly, about the ideology of (someone's) borders are just those of (their) body and they don't have national identification," Lienenbach said. "Anything besides national influence, and that is your core sense of identity."

One of Jones' favorite parts of the research and travel was making personal contact with all kinds of people, mostly by living at homes and farms instead of in hostels and inns.

"We made good contact with people there; we got to see how people live and what life is really like," Jones said. "We made good friends we still keep in contact with. Though it didn't seem like a vacation at all, it was better than a vacation. We had access to so many things we wouldn't have had access to … in a couple cases it seemed like we were members of the family."

Mandy Morgan is an enterprise intern for the Deseret News, reporting on values in the media. She studied journalism and political science at Utah State University and hails from Highland, Utah.

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