Each summer an entire class of Flinn Scholars engages in a group study-travel seminar. This year’s seminar, held in Hungary and western Romania, runs from late in May to mid-June. Here’s a day-by-day account.
Shanan Immel (’11)
This Monday was the last day in our newly-beloved Pécs. After a rousing breakfast of Hungarian meats and cheeses and coco puffs, we set out for the greatly anticipated Gandhi School. The Gandhi Gimnázium is a state-funded high school for socially disadvantaged teenagers, 95% of whom are Roma. Everyone who attends the school learns a normal curriculum coupled with Roma culture and two years each of the Roma languages Bayash and Lovari. As someone who struggles with political correctness from time to time, and was confused about the appropriateness of the word gypsy, I was fascinated to hear from the vice principle of the school, Maria, that the Lovari people prefer the word ‘Roma’ while the Bayash prefer ‘Gypsy.’ Who knew!
Next came time for a small group of the high schoolers to perform a song and a dance for us. The male and female dancer were both really good and made me want to hop up and dance with them. Our Broadway-quality rendition of Fun.’s song We Are Young followed. Although I must admit to a twinge or five of awkwardness, the song and accompanying clapping was a hit. A small group of students who knew a few words of English stayed with us for some cultural exchange. When we realized that none of us understood each other, I decided to asked the girl dancer to show us some moves. So we learned some Roma dance jigs and then Aman did the Dougie, much to the enjoyment of the group of kids.
With a few hours to explore Pécs a little bit, a few of us got prosciutto and fried egg pizza, which was amazing! We ran over to the Catacombs but they happen to be closed on Mondays. We returned to the hotel luggage room for a lecture on conflicts and solutions in Central Europe from István Tarrósy. Maybe by divine providence our wish was granted to stay in Pécs for a few more hours: there was a taxi strike in Budapest and so had to stay there for two more hours. After a heavy but quick rainstorm, we left this 2010 European Capital of Culture and went back to Budapest. Good bye Pécs!