Keith and I are picking up to move to Pécs, Hungary for one year. He has never been to Europe and the furthest east I've been is Switzerland.... Our Hungarian language skills are...well, we know some phrases. Come follow us on our adventure!!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Democracy and Non-Democratic Parties

A few weeks ago, Hungary had some kind of midterm elections. On election night, U.S. ambassador to Hungary, Eleni Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis, visited the three "democratic" parties which will be represented in parliament. She did not visit the Jobbik party, which holds seats in Parliament, because she said the party is not a democratic institution.

Jobbik is what I consider an extreme rightist party...even further right than Rush Limbaugh. The party, “relies on a combination of ethno-nationalism with anti-elitst populist- and a radical critique of existing political institutions.” (wikipedia, jobbik). Jobbik has close ties with the Magyar Gárda, which was officially disband in 2008 for violating the human-rights of minority groups in Hungary. Jobbik wants Hungary to regain the land it lost to its neighbors at the end of WWI. The party is accused of being anti-Semitic, violently homophobic, and racist (primarily the Roma or "gypsies" of Hungary)

Morvai Krisztina, the leading candidate in Jobbik, was infuriated when
Eleni Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis did not visit the Jobbik party. She wrote a letter to ambassador Eleni Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis, saying essentially that she does not know democracy.

But this brings up several questions:

In a democracy, do we have the right to vote in a party with non-democratic values? Hitler and his party were voted into power democratically. Are human-rights innately democratic issues? Do we need some sort of "moral code" of democracy...but wouldn't that too be undemocratic? Democracy is based on the educated public voting, should only educated people be allowed to vote?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Yesterday I went on a three hour quest for a pumpkin--it was successful and I found a new pair of boots...

I was SO excited to carve a pumpkin with my students--talk about how the pumpkin guts smell and feel, should it have happy or sad face, blah blah blah. We designed the face together, I showed them out to cut the top off, but then no one wanted to touch the inside Turns out none of my students wanted to get their hands dirty. They were interested enough to watch me carve the pumpkin and were really excited with the finished product.

Ta Da!!

I explained that it's my mom's birthday today (my "anya") and asked them to sing Happy Birthday to her--the girls agreed to do. Here it is:

Monday, October 11, 2010

Escaping Goats and other Zoo Creatures

On one of our Saturday adventures, Keith and I found ourselves at the zoo...completely by mistake (it's in the middle of the woods). We weren't going to go - I wanted to keep hiking and I had no interest in seeing sad animals, but Keith really wanted to...and there were monkeys.

It was an awesome zoo. And the goats kept escaping like it was no big deal. I tried to befriend them - they could have nibbled on my jacket, but apparently the goats of Hungary aren't social with strangers.

Although the goats snubbed me at first, I did get to pet one:

Some other highlights include:

I didn't even have to zoom in on this picture. The meerkats have a pretty awesome set-up at the zoo...it winds around with these faux and real sand hills and lots of underground tunnels. (The faux hills are the walls to their home/cage thing--the tunnels connect to different places where they can pop out and play) This gent was keeping guard while the other meerkats fought/played.

Some of my other favorites included the exhibit of the family of raccoons--Keith and I wanted to add to the information, "food: household garbage" "enemies: cars, rabies"

Also, I found this sign on the weasel cage hilarious.

Mommy monkey with baby on her back :-)

Hippos are freaking HUGE...this was my first time seeing them.

AND I got to see the hippos swim!!!

Honestly, I felt like all of the animals could escape at any second. They had excellent cages--large, lots of entertainment things--none of the animals looked sad...it just looked like they could easily escape. Perhaps this is why the zoo is in the woods... :-)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

In Need of a Revolution

I feel as if the hatred fueled by fear is growing rapidly every day in our world. The zealots and fanatics have the loudest voices...how do we teach and practice acceptance and treating everyone with dignity and still be heard?

I am not apathetic to the events of the world--the conflict against the proposed Mosque on Park Place in New York City, the invasion of privacy which lead to the suicide of the Rutger's student, the three young men brutally beaten and sodomized in the Bronx because they are gay, and the hundreds of individuals who have been robbed of their voices and suffer in silence.

I am proud to be U.S. American--The America that was defined for me: the melting pot--where people of all race and creed come together to stand united for freedom and democracy, with the "Pledge of Allegiance" which ends, "...with liberty and justice for all." In what I believe to be "American", there is no room for hatred. These most recent events, to me, are un-American.

I believe that every individual, every human being deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. I try my best everyday to do this.

This includes those who preach hate fueled by fear. They too deserve to be treated with dignity and respect--even though I do not condone their actions and words. I am unable to walk in their shoes, nor do I know the pain they carry. Their actions do not make them less human. For me, this is the most difficult to practice.

How do we start a revolution to end hatred and to encourage upholding the dignity of our fellow humans? How do we push forward without isolating or pointing at/creating "the other"? Is it effective to lead by example--making small changes by treating the individuals of our communities with love, respect and dignity or to be effective, must we begin shouting?