On the Road 2009: Day Six

May 30, 2009

By hammersmith

Each summer the Flinn Scholars Program takes an entire class of Scholars to Budapest, Hungary, and neighboring Romania for a three-week seminar on the emerging democracies of Eastern Europe. Here’s a day-by-day account.

Karen Ellis (’08):

This morning began with a surprising amount of French for a Hungarian home stay in Pecs. Our hostess was a native Hungarian who worked for Alliance Francaise in Pecs. Lucky for Danielle and I, it was an opportunity to practice communicating in French with the occasional Hungarian word. It was interesting to talk with a Hungarian that had spent a significant amount of time living outside of Hungary, because she had some things to say about Hungarian politics and culture that we had not yet thought of.

Our next activity took us to a Roma village in the Villany region. We were greeted warmly by a mother and her family. They cooked us a wonderful meal that they had begun preparing at 3 A.M.. Their hospitality was generous, serving us fresh chicken stew and soft bread. With a translator we asked questions about what life was like for the people of the village and how the economic crisis had made it impossible to find jobs.

All throughout lunch little faces had begun to appear in the window of the lunch hall, waving us outside. It wasn’t long before Flinns were outside filling orders of balloon animals and playing soccer. Sidewalk chalk became war paint as an epic battle upon the backs of older Flinns ensued. Before leaving, the mother provided a loaf of bread for our bus ride.

After the village, we made a great transition, moving to wine tasting in the Villany region. While sampling four wines, discussion moved from everything from tannins in the wine to the an equation that would yield the specific parabolic shape of the wine glass.

The differences in the physical surroundings between the Roma village and the winery were great, but it was easy to move from one to the other because they seemed to have one key thing is common. From the Roma community, to the vintners of the winery, it was the element of family that carried through. Sharing these experiences as a class helped us to strengthen this sense of community.