Each summer the Flinn Scholars Program takes an entire class of Scholars to Budapest, Hungary, and neighboring Slovakia and Serbia for a three-week seminar on the emerging democracies of Eastern Europe. Here’s a day-by-day account.
Julie Lyon (’10)
As our trip begins to wind down, I think about how much we have experienced, how many people we’ve met and all the amazing times shared as fliblings. We have reached our last day of lecture; the day was a summation of the diversity of our trip. We have been exposed to art, literature, the Danube Strategy and abundance of European Union politics throughout, and this day did not disappoint.
We started with a presentation from Gabor Kittley, the Managing Director of Geonardo Ltd., a research company that works with the European Union constructing and engaging different environmental strategies throughout the Union. We were able to see the funding strategies of the EU and the many sustainable projects involving renewable energy and natural-resource management.
The diversity of our day continued with a lecture about entrepreneurial opportunities and strategies through computer software and technology from Graphisoft’s founder, Gabor Bojar. He exposed us to the passion of competition and the necessity of global understanding to improve and survive within the world of business.
Given our rumbling stomachs, a pizza break was a nice treat before we were given a walking tour of the surrounding Graphisoft Park. After hearing Mr. Bojar’s journey from the ground up, we were able to visualize his immense success with Graphisoft Park’s impressive expanse. The company first broke ground on the Danube site in 1998, and shortly after several more companies joined the park. With its continuing growth, Graphisoft was driven to establish two separate entities, one company for software and the other managing the park. Today the park houses 40 companies, including Microsoft, Canon, and Gabor Kittley’s Geonardo Ltd.
Rain began as we reached the Danube side of the property. Even though our exploration of the park was cut short, it was easy to see the grandeur of the company and its promising future. With that, we departed onto the city bus for a little break before our afternoon session began, a lecture by the immensely talented composer Gyula Fekete.
Hungary is in the middle of a bicentennial celebration of the famous Hungarian composer Franz Liszt. We were given a unique opportunity to hear about the composer from a true expert: Dr. Fekete had recently composed an opera loosely based on Liszt’s life and music. Beyond Liszt, Dr. Fekete also took us through the history of Hungarian music, highlighting composers like Bartok and Petrovics.
Dr. Fekete also arranged live performances for us from two young artists. The first was a young singer from Dr. Fekete’s opera, who performed a number from the show with Dr. Fekete’s accompaniment. Following this act, a student from the Franz Liszt Academy of Music performed traditional Hungarian folk music with an intricate Hungarian string instrument. We were exceedingly impressed.
From sustainability politics to music, the day, like our entire trip, gave us a taste of so many different aspects of Hungarian culture. We ended our lectures on a high note, and I for one found a new appreciation for Central Europe as a whole.
Our last day of lectures was followed by our last night out on the town. For our last free dinner, many of us headed to the much-loved Hummus Bar one last time. Of course, for Lindsey or me, even this would not be our last visit; our addiction to hummus and falafel would keep bringing us here until we left Budapest a final time. Later, with full happy stomachs, we ventured to Morrison’s for a night of endless dancing and a few good rounds of karaoke. And with that, as a newly solidified member of the Spice Girls (Flinn Edition), “I’ll say goodbye.”