I have been an audience member at many Hungarian high school programs (Hungarian Prom), but I had never participated in one until last Thursday. My school asked me to give a five to ten minute presentation about spring traditions in America and Great Britain at a Spring Program held at Fazekas, a nearby high school. I talked about Ground Hog Day, Mardi Gras, food, the White House Easter Egg Roll, and Royal Maundy, when Queen Elizabeth gives coins to special citizens at a church service.
I did not know until the program began that I would be the first speaker. This was slightly terrifying.
One of my tenth grade students (“József”) from was my translator. He is quite a joker. I am no stand up comedian, but we kept the presentation light-hearted. (Speaking to Europeans made me realize how strange some American traditions are. I was telling a room full of Hungarians that Americans use a rodent to predict when winter will end. I also tried to convince them that chocolate peanut butter eggs are delicious.)
Some primary school students performed a butterfly play in English. It was adorable:
Here I was being attentive, sitting with my students and other teachers:
My ninth grade students baked some desserts for the program, and my tenth grade girls made decorations. They were very proud!
Another American teacher spoke (Ironically, we’ve never met him before. And I still haven’t. He disappeared before I got a chance to introduce myself.), as well as teachers from France, Germany, Spain, and Italy–specifically Sicily, which made me even more excited about our vacation.
The program was like many assemblies in the U.S., except that Americans only have school-wide assemblies. There were teenagers from eight different schools at this event. Europeans put more emphasis on interacting with other schools in non-competitive settings. I think this is a good idea. As an American student, every time I met kids from outside my district my focus was on earning a trophy (Please note: for writing skills or trivia knowledge, NEVER athletic prowess), and not on learning or making friends. That only happened tangentially.
When presenting to a Hungarian audience, there does not seem to be an expectation that the audience will be silent. As I spoke into the microphone, there was a low hum of voices buzzing throughout the gym. I wasn’t offended because that’s how things are here, but the other American seemed displeased!
After the presentations, we got to eat food and there was a competition (the students were assigned a team by number, not school). I enjoyed the opportunity to spend time with my students outside of the classroom. I only see them for 45 or 90 minutes a week, and it doesn’t give me a lot of time to get to know them.
Jesse was also there with some of his students. My students were fascinated by this. Their comments:
“He looks 18!”
“Is he Irish?”
“How long have you been in the status of married?”
“Where did you meet?”
It was a fun afternoon celebrating spring, and then Jesse and I walked home. I was officially on SPRING BREAK.