From Hungarian Friends

Quote

IMG_0603

“Denial of past actions is the habit of dictators and stubborn preschoolers”
–at Memento Park.

Since my program was only for American math students, I spoke with Hungarians infrequently during my semester in Budapest. But when I did, I was fascinated by what they would tell me about their lives, their friends, their work.

Here are a few of the things which stuck with me most, in their words as much as possible:


On Minimum Wage:
“Budapest is cheap for Americans, not cheap for Hungarians. Minimum wage in America is so high. Here it is somewhere like 3 dollars an hour! I cannot live on that.”
Male, age 22, Temp. Jobs

On Homelessness:
“When I was in the States, I’ve seen the people sleeping on the streets. I thought, `In this country which is so rich and developed, how can they let other human beings sleep in the street?’ But now look at Hungary, look at Budapest. Since we have no money left to put into welfare, the same things are happening here.”
Female, age 50, Teacher

On Guns:
“I live in the ghettos in Budapest. It’s okay, it’s safe for a guy like me. I mean, if you’ve got a problem with someone else, you just fight him. Physical stuff. With your hands. You take him, he takes you, and you get it all worked out. But in America, everyone’s got a gun. You got a problem with someone, you don’t know what they’re going to pull on you. That is what scares me.”
Male, age 23, Student

On Language:
“Growing up in Hungary, I learned very young that not everyone speaks my language. I learned very young that after travelling just two hours, if I wanted to be understood I had to learn to speak something other than Hungarian. You feel like a child when you are in Hungary, having to do hand motions and speak in small words. Me, that is how I feel everywhere that is not home.”
Female, age 26, Medical Secretary

“If you are eve…

Quote

“If you are ever affiliated with a male mentor, their reputation seems to dominate over your career achievements at some level. Over time, I’ve learned how to stand up and speak for myself.”
–Dr. Lillian Hsu, Biochem

A quote from one of the Science Week lectures, on the challenges of being a woman in science.

I had never actually thought about this problem that Dr. Hsu brought up. She gave us a few examples of times when her male mentors were getting credit for work she had primarily done, or times when her male mentors were getting excessive credit for “making her as successful as she was.”

I can imagine this might be a subconscious showing of sexism: individuals thinking they are complimenting the mentor, not realizing they are also de-crediting the mentee in the process.