A new generation of American researchers has come to Hungary to spend ten months in the Budapest Fellowship Program (BFP), conducting research, teaching, and participating in cultural and professional events. The Hungary Foundation, together with Mathias Corvinus Collegium (MCC) kicked off the third year of the Fellowship Program at the iconic Gerbeaud House, in Budapest this September. The four selected fellows, Tom Pearson, Logan West, Bence Széchenyi, and Luke Larson are starting their ten-month-long journey to immerse themselves in Central and Eastern European and specifically, Hungarian history and culture.
The four chosen American professionals were eager to dive into the program.
“The fellows in the program range across a relatively wide political spectrum. These researchers are “here to understand us”, to dig deep, to “get our message out to the world”, and through them, perhaps, to help the English speaking world understand Hungary better.”– said HF Executive Director Anna Smith Lacey in her opening remarks.
“Hungary is my ancestral homeland and where I was born. It was emotionally complex to return to the nation, and it forced me to reckon with my place in the world and struggle to understand what “home” really means. I now feel ready to begin documenting the nation. With this grant, I could pick up where I left off and report on the complexity of Hungary and the surrounding region.” – Bence Széchenyi.
The first day of Orientation Week reviewed the program’s goals, performance benchmarks, and unique features. At the opening day’s press conference Zoltán Szalai, Director General of MCC, and Anna Smith Lacey introduced the program to the general public sharing the two organizations’ long-term goals behind the initiative.
“With the help of this program, 5-10 years from now we will have a cohort of American scholars, young professionals who truly understand what is going on in Central-Eastern Europe and understand why this region is important for America.” – Anna Smith Lacey, Executive Director – Hungary Foundation
During the next ten months, the fellows will be conducting their own individual research at four Hungarian host institutions: the National Policy Research Institute (Nemzetpolitikai Kutatóintézet), Danube Institute, the Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the Migration Research Institute, while taking intense Hungarian language classes, attending Hungarian film screenings, book discussions, working lunches, and site visits, and participating in seminars on Hungarian history, legal development, foreign policy, and political thought.
The Budapest Fellows will also visit significant sites and cities around the country and get connected with the Hungarian-speaking communities in the Carpathian Basin. Later on, the participants will be integrated into the entire educational and think tank portfolio of Mathias Corvinus Collegium (MCC) and will be teaching workshops, and classes, and will have the opportunity to participate in MCC’s wide variety of public events.
Following the opening orientation day, the fellows took a deep dive into their Foundations Program straight away.
“Just in this first week we have been thrown into the deep-end, but it has already been rewarding and I know it is going to be an amazing experience for all of us.” – Tom Pearson
The first few days included day-long seminars on Hungarian history and culture from the Hungarian Settlement to the two World Wars. The fellows were introduced to Hungary’s Relations with the European Union. Bence, Tom, Logan, and Luke had a chance to spend a day and a half in the Hungarian Parliament where they learned about the history of the Hungarian parliamentary system, visited the Parliament’s public research library, as well as the exhibit on the life and legacy of István Tisza, and viewed memorials of significant importance around Kossuth Square.
The fellows also visited the World War I. Exhibit at Várkert Bazár where they focused on Hungary during the belle époque and the country’s transition into World War I. Later on, the American visitors were also introduced to the Hungarian constitutional traditions.
“This week has been a crash-course in Hungarian civilization, and we rocked every moment of it.” – Logan West.
One of the week’s highlights was the breath-taking boat cruise along the Danube coupled with a traditional dinner, where family members of the fellows all had a chance to get to know the Program’s mission and the Budapest Fellowship Program and MCC staff and to enjoy excellent Hungarian cuisine.
Ludovika – National University of Public Service, an outstanding partner of the Budapest Fellowship Program gave a home to the Foundation Program’s fifth day, where the fellows participated in seminars on Hungarian parliamentarianism and the era of dualism, followed by the family policy in Hungary by the field’s most reputable minds.
“Spending time in Hungary with the Budapest Fellowship would me to further immerse myself in the Hungarian culture which I began when I moved to Hungary in August 2020, to progress my Hungarian abilities. I will take the B1 exam in several weeks.” – Luke Larson
As these four exceptional individuals embark on their journey in Hungary, we’ll keep you updated on their progress, publications, and events they will host. To check out the press coverage of the program, visit Origo or Index to name a few. in English by Hungary Today to name a few.
Thank you to our partners who helped kick off this year’s program: Zoltán Szalai, Péter Lánczi, and Noémi Pálfalvi at Mathias Corvinus Collegium. To Adrienn Szabó for hosting the Program at Ludovika – University of Public Service.
We are grateful for all the help we have received from István Bellavics, Gábor Szigeti, Berta Bakó, Eszter Szanyi-Légrády, Réka Andrási, and Alex Mihályfi-Tóth at the Office of the Hungarian National Assembly and the Museum of the Hungarian National Assembly.
We are grateful to be working with another set of excellent mentors for the fellows: Márton Schőberl, Zoltán Kántor, Balázs Mártonffy, István Kiss, Viktor Marsai, and Nikolett Pénzváltó.
A special thanks to each and every lecturer who taught the opening week’s rigorous curriculum: Rodrigo Ballester, Tamás Pálosfalvi, Márton Zászkaliczky, Mónika Mátay, András Gerő, Márton Sulyok, Bernadett László, Márton Békés, Gergely Romsics, Balázs Molnár, and Tibor Glant.
And thank you to Bence Szabó for spotlighting Budapest’s classical architectural heritage with a wonderful historical tour of the inner city.