Monday, October 7, 2013

Getting Settled

Life here in the village of Gorogszallas has not been especially easy, but I can say that things are starting to feel more "normal."  Here's a very scattered update on a variety of topics:
  • I have a bike!  Hungarians bike everywhere and I'm trying to fit in.  A bike is especially liberating in a village that has infrequent bus service and very few people with cars to offer you a ride.  The short cut road between Gorogszallas and Nyirtelek is a dirt path that has finally shown me some of the birch trees I wrote about earlier, as well as other great views of nearby villages, corn fields, and small wooded areas.  (Incidentally, I think the common use of bicycles here is an interesting commentary on the pace of life here and also on their consumer culture.  But that is for another post.) 
  • My work at the Children's House each morning has been a challenge for someone who doesn't do well with unconstructed time.  But I'm beginning to get to know the kids better and am trying to acquire the right Hungarian vocabulary for that context: "play nicely" "share the toy" "wash your hands" "throw the ball!"  
My new friend, working and playing hard
  • A few times a week I get to come to the nearby town of Nyirtelek where I help with English classes in the high school.  It's a nice arrangement where I get to be the good cop and work on their English conversation, and the teacher sits in the room and gets to do most of the classroom management.  She tells me that the students are better when I'm there.  I'm not quite sure what that means for when I'm not there.
  • On the backside of one of my bedroom walls is where my family's pigs live.  Yesterday, I went with my host dad and brother to load and exchange 6 of their smaller pigs for one large pig.  Most of the night I could hear it on the other side of the wall.  I couldn't help but think about it's first night there and how I felt similarly out of place and uncomfortable on my first night.  But then life got better, and life is taking on a new routine.  I'm quite sure that life will not turn out quite as well for the pig and that's probably as far as I should the metaphor, but we shared a common bond of newness for a short time last night.  
  • I traveled with the Nyirtelek church to a small conference of Lutheran churches in the village of Lucfalva.  The speakers were all very good, and a Hungarian women was fluent English was kind enough to translate for me.  She spent some of her growing up years in Sweden and we had a long talk over lunch about Swedish society.  For those who don't know, this was the subject of my honors thesis this spring and was happy to get some first person perspective on the modern welfare state.
A glimpse of the lush village of Lucfalva
  • This last Friday and Saturday the Gorogszallas and Nyirtelek church sent three vans to a weekend retreat of competitions/games between different churches - soccer, ping pong, foosball, chess.  My foray back into the worlds of soccer and chess came with limited success, but not as much embarassment as I anticipated.  The main speaker was an member of the Hungarian Paralympic Swim Team in 2012.  She had qualified for the Olympic games in London, but was passed over by the Hungarian Olympic Committee when it came to final selections of athletes.  Her new dream is to go to America.  She has a friend in LA and told me that she hopes to go next summer.  On behalf of the whole country, I told her I hope she does.  

The Gorogszallas crew 

 My host dad (center) and host brother (left) in the team huddle

 Borno (center) and other Gorogszallas fans.  My supervisor, Mishi, is on the far right.

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