Earlier this month, our 10 month immersive research scholarship, the Budapest Fellowship Program (BFP) co-organized by Mathias Corvinus Collegium and the Hungary Foundation concluded with four American fellows, Tom Pearson, Logan West, Bence Széchenyi, and Luke Larson graduating from the program and joining our growing group of BFP Alumni. The Budapest Fellowship Program offers talented scholars a fully funded opportunity to work and live in Budapest, Hungary, for an extended period. Fellows engaged in various activities, including research, professional development, and networking events, to deepen their understanding of Hungary and its contemporary issues. Over ten months, the fellows conducted research with esteemed host institutions, engaged with policy makers, members of the think tank community, and media, and reconnected with their own personal narratives.
Enhancing the Transatlantic Dialogue
The distinguished host institutions — the Minority Research Institute (Nemzetpolitikai Kutatóintézet), Danube Institute, the Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the Migration Research Institute — provided solid grounds for intellectual explorations in various domains, such as cyber security, energy policy, and migration, among others.
Understanding that research bears the responsibility of dissemination and public dialogue, the Fellows actively shared their insights through various media platforms. They appeared on national television, offered expert feedback on podcasts, and delivered compelling lectures throughout Hungary. Their research topics covered a wide spectrum, including pressing issues such as cyber security, energy policy, migrant integration within the European Union, and the future of Hungarian minorities in the Diaspora. Through these endeavors, The Fellows fostered meaningful discussions on contemporary issues.
“The year I spent in Hungary through the Budapest Fellowship Program was an incredible opportunity to get an in-depth look at the history, culture, and current trends in an amazing nation within an atmosphere of collegiality and support.” – Tom Pearson
Wisdom Through Cultural Understanding
The Fellowship explored the Hungarian countryside through trips to Tokaj, Esztergom, Debrecen, Pécs, Recsk. And extended beyond the boundaries of Hungary, leading the Fellows to important sites and cities in the country and Hungarian-speaking communities in the Carpathian Basin in Ukraine and Romania. Engaging with residents in these areas proved invaluable, offering unique insights into the lives of Hungarian minorities residing outside the nation’s borders.
“From the program’s discussions over politics and history, literature and film, along with the trips around the country and the region, all of these experiences are ones that cannot be repeated. This is such a critical time for the region, and it is one that has consequences for the world.” – Logan West
During their stay in Hungary, the Fellows also fully embraced Hungarian culture. Intensive language classes, film screenings, thought-provoking book discussions, working lunches, and site visits were just a few examples of cultural immersion opportunities the Fellowship generously provided. Moreover, the Fellows actively participated in seminars covering Hungarian history, legal development, foreign policy, and political thought, further enhancing their understanding of the country.
“My journey started just a couple of meters away from this venue here in Hungary when I was born, and 20 years later, I realized that enough is enough, and I have to come back here. BFP allowed me to be here and tell stories about the people I care so much about. My connection to my family history grew. I am at a point when I am leaving Hungary, but I can go home triumphantly knowing I gained so many precious memories and knowledge that I can utilize later in my career.” – Bence Széchenyi
As an integral part of their program, the Fellows actively engaged with the educational and think tank initiatives of Mathias Corvinus Collegium (MCC). Their participation in public events and teaching assignments deepened their understanding of Hungarian intellectual and cultural life, significantly contributing to MCC’s mission.
“The Budapest Fellowship was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that allowed me to immerse myself in Hungarian language and culture, to build connections with some of Hungary’s best and brightest, and to deepen my understanding of the country through its history, politics, and art.” – Luke Larson
Overall, the BFP offered the Fellows a comprehensive and enriching experience that extended far beyond academia. Their research, engagement with Hungarian communities, and active involvement with host organizations and experts have deepened their knowledge and understanding of Hungary’s history, culture, and political landscape. Their contributions through podcasts, national television appearances, and lectures have broadcasted their research to wider audiences, fostering important conversations in today’s public sphere.
The program could not have succeeded without dedicated partner institutions like the Institute of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Danube Institute, the Migration Research Institute, and the Minority Research Institute which through the assignment of mentors, and providing a work environment, helped guide the fellows. We are thankful for all our alumni who helped guide book discussions, film screenings, and Discover Hungary tours to enrich the fellows’ experience in Hungary.
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After the conclusion of the Program Luke Larson will remain in Hungary to continue his research at MCC, Logan West will stay on with Danube Institute as a visiting fellow, Tom Pearson will head to Cambodia to teach and Bence Szechenyi will pursue graduate studies at Columbia School of Journalism.