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м.Вінниця, вул. Дмитра Майбороди, 2а

How I Spent My Summer Vacation Volunteering in Nagyszékely Két Torony Nagyszékelyi Faluegylet

It was the best summer in my life. But it is very difficult for me to begin this report because I don’t want to come to terms with the thought that it’s over. Especially now, when I’m involved in another European Solidarity Corps project and can compare… literally cried every time I started to write. But let’s try again.

It was the longest summer in my life. It began in April when I crossed the Ukrainian-Hungarian border with my cat in the backpack carrier, and finished only in November. Who knew that the local climate is so nice and soft, that almost half of a year I will wear only T-shirts? Actually before arriving I didn’t know about Hungary almost anything, except Petőfi’s poems, which I learned at school, Liszt’s symphonic poems, which I learned at music school, paprikás and Tokaj wine. Of course now I know much more about Magyarország and understand why Ukrainian baroque philosopher Hryhorii Skovoroda had lived there 5 years and loved this country so much. I had enough time to make sure that in Tokaj vino veritas.

It was the most astonishing summer in my life, because I have been discovering this new culture and language every day. In Ukrainian Hungary is called Uhorshchyna, which means “the land in mountains”. But Carpathians are not high enough to separate our countries from each other completely, and unexpectedly I found many similar words, especially connected with agriculture and farming.

Also I realised how much the hundreds years of russian imperial dominance in Ukraine isolated it from the other neighboring countries, how much we all missed, and how much we need to catch up.

Because of the government’s politics, Hungary has an unattractive image abroad, especially in my country after the russian invasion. Moreover, once or twice I really had a conversation with people who prefer to trust the TV propaganda rather than to the alive person… But almost everybody whom I met in Nagyszékely was smart, educated and adequate. Dwellers told me a lot about Hungarian history and nowadays ideology. So after all I see much more similarities that differences in the mentality of both our nations.  Our intercultural dialog and exchange is yet to come.  

Speaking about people, it was the friendliest summer in my life. Usually I don’t like humans at all and for me the main point of this volunteering was supposed to be animal care. That’s why I was surprised to meet people who became very important to me.

Edit Jagodics literally changed my life when she approved my candidature to this project, and the whole time she was the very best mentor ever. Long distance cycling with Karl Brandner was the main pleasure of my days off, on two wheels he showed me half of the region. Etelka Kardos and Virág Szentgyorgyi were my favorite companions, with them every task was interesting, easy and pleasant, even if it was a weeding. Kati Hargita is too kind, she definitely was helping me more than I was helping her; and her husband Peter was the equestrian trainer not only for the horses, but for me as well. The leisure time with Pascaline Allaigre and Mariann Köves, theatre rehearsals with Csilla Csaki and great public events organised by Beáta Arany, cheese making with Anna Kolosi and the handicraft workshops by Dóra Várkonyi always were as enjoyable as useful.

With some of my new friends we had an experience which was worth describing not in the short essay but in a good book or movie. 

At the very end it was the most adventurous summer in my life. The gallery of my phone is my photo-diary, and there are thousands of photos from this amazing sabbatical. A lot of riding, training horses and breaking them to harness, grooming and cutting hoofs; cutting wool of the sheep and showering them with shampoo; pasturing goats, making ceramics, feeding the cows and the donkey from my own hands; treating animals, especially homeless cats (the volunteering house reminded a cats-farm, but probably psychologically they treated myself even more); singing songs near the fire and taking part in the TV show; eating fresh organic vegetables right from the bed and exotic fruits right from the trees; mushroom hunting in the forest and treasure hunting at Ozora second-hand bazaar; celebrating the traditional local holidays… not to mention wild deers grazing on every step! 


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