blog header image

Treading Water

Posted on Friday, February 20th, 2009.

Teofil Schintee and Jordan Sugar

Teofil Schintee and his friend, Jordan Sugar

The year was 1979. The place was Romania. Teofil Schintee made a decision to leave. He did not tell his parents. He did not tell his friends from the University. He did not tell a soul. Secretly he began to practice swimming. After work, on the weekends, any spare moment he had, Teofil would swim in the Danube near his childhood home in Caransebes. Late one evening, Teofil watched from the river bank as the Romanian border patrol boat chugged upstream and out of sight. He dove into the Danube. “As a child I would swim in the Danube and I would always look at the other side and I was curious to see what was on that other side.” More than three hours later Teofil crawled ashore to the former Yugoslavia. He had nothing but the clothes on his back, all of his savings in a plastic bag, and a Bible.

Jordan Sugar, a close friend of the Schintee family, brought Teofil into the WestBooth to record the story of his escape. After many months, and many close calls with the authorities in Yugoslavia, Teofil was able to come to the United States as a refugee. He credits his journey to the grace of God. During the months spent in refugee camps and in those cold moments paddling across the Danube in the dark he never stopped believing. He never lost faith.

One Response to “Treading Water”

To preserve the StoryCorps mission and experience for our readers and participants, comments are subject to the StoryCorps Terms of Service. Comments may be held for moderation or removed if deemed offensive or off-topic. Please do not resubmit your comment if you don't see it right away, it will be approved as soon as possible. Thank you.

  • Wow! Intense story. I amazes me what people will and have done to make a better life for themselves. Teofil’s story is an inspiration and a reminder of how many of us are so fortunate.

    Comment from Jeremy on February 21, 2009 at 10:37 am - Reply to this Comment

Leave a Reply

  • Major Funding Provided By

    CPB Logo
  • National Broadcast Sponsors

    CTCA Logo
  • National Partners

    NPR American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress
  • Charity Navigator Logo