Andrea Kunza on Learning German and Discovering Cultures

Our Transformed by Travel Photo Contest is open to all of our participants and alumni. Instead of just showing you their prize-winning photos, we asked them some questions to get to know them.

On the road to Limassol, Cyprus, by Andrea Kunza. This photo was the second place winner of the 2015 Transformed by Travel Photo Contest.

Meet Andrea Kunza, Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals

How did you hear about Cultural Vistas, the CBYX program, and this contest?

I was a current participant of the CBYX program in Germany. I actually heard about this opportunity because my sister was in the high school version of this scholarship. In compliance with the rules of sibling rivalry, I could not allow my baby sister speaking more languages than I, and so I applied. 

Tell us a little about your CBYX experience. What was the most rewarding or surprising aspect of your experience?

Two things that make this year distinct from any other in my life:

 1. Testing myself in how quickly I can learn a language when thrown into a country in which a significant portion of the population speaks fairly good English. 

2. I learned how frustrating it can be to use my broken German with people and still have them respond in English.

Tell us more about the story behind this photo. What brought you to Cyprus? What else happened on this trip?

Cyprus has actually been a country of great interest since I was a teenager because it has a similar ethnic problems as my Grandparents’ country of Bosnia and Herzegovina. So when I got the internship at the U.S. Embassy to Nicosia I was fairly excited to go and explore this country that I have only been able to read about. Other than learning to drive the 1986 Datsun stick-shift on the left side of the road (I am American), the most memorable event was using our diplomatic passes to go on a tour with the U.S. Embassy through the UN Green Zone. The Green Zone is the line that has kept Cyprus divided in half between the Turkish and the Greek Cypriots since 1974. The houses, shops, and buildings in this ghost-like zone have remained untouched since 1974 in an act ensuring the peace between the two sides. To this day, people who had to flee their homes in Northern Cyprus remain detached from their homes and lands of their ancestry. 

Cyprus is living proof that societies cannot continually pursue retributions for past wrongs. Ultimately, it will turn into an endless cycle one group of people wronged by another.

Peeking through a Monastery in Cyprus. Photo Credit: Andrea Kunza

What advice would you give to future CBYX participants?

Honestly, just take it day by day and force yourself to speak German. Unfortunately, a big part of that requires you to consistently ask people to speak to you in German, despite your clear inability to communicate effectively in the language. 

What advice do you have for future photo contest entrants?

Take the photo even if you really don’t feel like it. That way you can enjoy the moment and maybe even remember it. 

Enter Our Photo Contest

Do you have a photo that can show the transformative power of travel? Enter our photo contest by October 3rd. Unlimited entries. The winner gets a trip to FotoWeekDC.