On the Road 2012: Day Ten

June 5, 2012

By hammersmith

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.

Lee Burke (’11)

Today can be split into two themes: EU politics and Hungarian music. Peter Balázs honored us with a lecture on Hungary’s accession to the EU and its new place in European politics, and also lent insight into Hungary’s current internal political problems. As a former foreign minister, among a long list of essential national and international offices he has held, Professor Balázs is the most informed, concise, and eloquent presenter we have had the pleasure of meeting. (He also happens to be Kata’s father.)

Then we took part in a fun and informative workshop on EU politics–we formed four groups and respectively passed a constitutional amendment in Ireland, settled EU discomfort with the EuroCup’s location in the Ukraine, investigated solutions to the linguistic disenfranchisement of EU citizens, and discussed whether the US Secretary of State should include Roma issues on the agenda of a meeting with the EU. We all seemed to have fun debating, and I for one am surprised how much I learned in such a short time. Thanks go to János Bóka from the EU info point for organizing the workshop.

After a “Lunch On Your Own”, we reconvened at the Ligéti building of the Liszt Music Academy for a lecture and presentation from Gyula Fekete, an internationally recognized composer. After a brief introduction to Liszt, Kodály, and other Hungarian composers, Professor Fekete introduced us to a couple outstanding musicians who play traditional instruments: the Hurdy-Gurdy and the Zither. They were both outstanding players, and hearing the sounds of folk music really reformed my conception of the Hungarian past.

The students’ unusual sounds contrasted sharply with my favorite part of the trip: seeing Anna Karenina in Ballet at the Hungarian State Opera House. The music was compiled from the varied and diverse works of Tchaikovsky, from his Symphony No. 4 to the Souvenir de Florence, and performed by an excellent orchestra. But the dancers! I’ve never watched a ballet and I have to say, I’m definitely a convert.

That seems to be a common feeling on this trip: never-ending discovery and falling in love with our beautiful, huge, planet.