“That wouldn’t be conclusive either.”

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Well, last night we all made it back home from Veszprém! It was much more than a trip to a festival, though that would have been full and exciting enough in itself. It was an adventure of several dimensions, a great experience in pulling through together, finding the fun in things, solving problems as they came up. For example, in our extremely tight connection at the Kőbánya-Kispest station, we had two temporary mishaps: on the way to Veszprém, we got separated, so that two students and a parent (the one other adult besides me on the trip) ended up coming on the next train. (But the festival started a little late, so we were all there for the beginning.) On the way back, we were especially concerned about this connection, and in the rush we asked a conductor for the correct track number. He pointed us to the wrong track, and we boarded the wrong train–and didn’t realize this until we had passed Cegléd and a student noticed that we were not passing through the expected towns. We got off the train in Kecskemét, about an hour’s drive from Szolnok. I was dismayed; in my mind, the end of the trip would occur when I saw everyone safely back to Szolnok, and now people were calling parents, coordinating rides… But parents pitched in, and everyone got home. While we waited in Kecskemét, in a park by the station, with some festival going on nearby and warm spring in the air, the students thrilled in the adventure of it all, took a polaroid photo, and Piri, the parent who had gone with me, treated us all to fries. I kept track of who was going home with whom, waited until all rides had arrived or departed, and asked everyone to let me know when they were actually back home. Later in the evening, when the many messages came in and I saw that everyone had made it, I lost all remnant worries but resolved that I would never attempt such a tight train connection with a large group again. Either take a bus, or allow for more time between trains. But everything turned out well. A parent kindly gave me a ride too, along with two students. On the way back, we talked about all kinds of things and looked out at the sunset over the fields.

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What a grand few days! The slight mishaps may have been some of the best parts. On stage, Vargang pulled off a beautiful performance, full of vim and character. They handled the slight mistakes with aplomb, covering for each other and keeping the rhythm. The audience and evaluators loved them. We had many other performances to enjoy too, as audience members; a few of the plays, such as The Danube by María Irene Fornés, performed by a group from the University of Debrecen, have stayed on my mind, and I hope to read and see them again. Then there were the meals, the walks up and down Veszprém’s hilly roads, the laughter, the hundreds of photos, the goodwill, the ways in which each person helped out. In a few days we will receive our certificates (which got misplaced before the closing ceremony), some professional photos, and a video of our performance. But no matter how many mementos we receive, we will remember the trip in our own ways (“separately or together, it all depends”). And no telling of the story will be final.

P.S. There are far too many people to thank, but here are just a few of the people who made this entire project possible: Piri Márton (Madda’s mother, who came with us on the trip and helped in countless ways), Judit Kéri, Zsuzsanna Kovácsné Boross, Kata Bajnai, all the parents, the American Corner Veszprém (and U.S. Embassy Budapest), all the drama troupes, the hospitable people in Veszprém, László Molnár, all the parents, Eugène Ionesco and his estate, Ilona Berkicsné Németh, everyone at the Varga porta, and anyone I have forgotten to mention. Thank you all so much!

Update: The National English Language Drama Festival sent us a video of the performance! You can also view some professional photos of the performance and some of the festival workshops.

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4 Comments

  1. Piri Márton

     /  May 27, 2019

    The margin of our incredible adventure:
    Miklós Radnóti: Calendar

    May
    The petal shakes, falls from the bough;
    in blanching fragrances the dusk comes now.
    Deep in the chilly mountain breeze
    wade richly-laden avenues of trees.
    The warm air shivers, steals away;
    the chestnut-candles glimmer, lift and sway.

    /Foamy Sky The Major Poems of Miklós Radnóti A bilingual edition by Zsuzsanna Ozsvárt and Frederick Turner, Corvina, 2014/

    It was my honor traveling with you and the Vargang!
    Thank you!
    With love
    Piri

    Reply
  2. Susan

     /  May 27, 2019

    2 things come to mind:
    1) as a volleyball coach I remember trips to tournaments and the mishaps we negotiated – including losing people, sitting in airports for endless hours, arriving at the wrong building… the problem solving times brought us closer together

    2) the incredible value of adults who work with youth – encouraging, teaching, correcting in love and compassion and watching them bloom – living with aplomb and joy.

    Yes, the story never ends. I still meet with former students (some of whom are now grandparents) and we tell our stories as we remember them – there is always a surprise.

    Thank you for jogging my memories.

    Reply
    • Thank you, Susan! I look forward to reminiscing about this trip over the years. I imagine that some of the students will tell their children and grandchildren about it.

      Reply

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