Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Life on the Road

Following two weeks on the road, it feels good to be back in eastern Hungary sliding back into familiar routines, and also discovering some new things as winter turns to spring.

Per usual, I like to share through pictures. More posts to come later this week reflecting on winter in the village, our Lent retreat with fellow Hungary YAGM volunteers, and Phiren Amenca's conference in Budapest on anti-discrimination and gender.

For now, here are a few glimpses of life on the road these last two weeks:

 Every time the train stops in the nearby town of Tokaj I marvel at this huge map; this time I actually pulled out my camera.  After the 1921 Treaty of Trianon, the Kingdom of Hungary lost more than 2/3 of its territory.  The loss of territory still stings like an open wound for Hungarians.  Here, you can see the modern nation state over top of the historic kingdom.

 With my YAGM Hungary colleagues--Ole, Chelsea, Meredith--leaving Miskolc, Hungary heading toward Kosice, Slovakia. 

On an afternoon hike with Jeremy and Esme. 

Enjoying great weather on the ski slopes of the High Tatras!

One of the highlights of the week was taking a break from Hungarian food and eating lots of salads, fruits, and curry.

Štrbské Pleso in the High Tatra mountains provided great scenery for our retreat and even better terrain for hiking and skiing!

Each day we had Bible study and worship--both of which we had all been missing in English!  This was our favorite sanctuary all week: a snowy path between a mountain hut we'll visit in July and the town where we were staying, Štrbské Pleso.

At the Phiren Amenca conference in Budapest on Roma and gender discrimination. The conference pulled together nearly 40 volunteers who are serving in various countries around Europe.  Some of the best conversations happened during the 30 minute coffee breaks they scheduled for us each morning and afternoon.  The 4th floor balcony off the meeting rooms with great panoramic views of the Danube and the Parliament offered some inspiration as well.

Hungary's Parliament building is impressive whether you're looking at it across the river or up close.  I have a lot of pictures of this building as it's the tallest in Budapest and probably the most beautiful and impressive architecturally.  This building and what it represents is particularly relevant since the country will go to the polls for a national election in just 10 days.

This subtle, but provocative, memorial stands at the edge of the Danube in front of the Parliament building. It memorializes Hungarians who were shot into the river by communist security police in 1945.

A "debate" activity at the Phiren Amenca conference challenging us to take a position on certain stereotypes and share our experiences with the statements.  More than anything, this showed us that the immediate perspective of our volunteer communities is incredibly important to how we view issues of discrimination and gender.  Still, coming together to widen our perspective is important in the ongoing work of fighting against discrimination.