Hello everyone! It’s time for another update on my life in Hungary. I’ve realized that I haven’t actually shared a lot about my day to day work here, so I hope to cover that a bit now. Focusing mainly on the Children’s Home, along with some personal reflections now that I’m well past the halfway point of my year (crazy right?).
So as I have shared before, my primary job here is to work every morning in the Children’s home, in Görögszállás. Görögszállás is a little village about 10 kilometers outside of Nyírtelek, and it is a predominantly Roma community. The Children’s home there is part of a larger mission project that was started by the Lutheran Church here in Nyírtelek. The other component of this mission is an agriculture program, created with the hopes of providing some local jobs in an area with very few employment opportunities. The agriculture site is also a wonderful project, and perhaps I can expand more upon it later, but for now I will focus on where I have the most direct involvement.
The children’s home was started to provide a resource for both the young mothers in the village, and their kids. It is targeted at kids who are four years old or younger, although it is very common for older siblings to show up randomly. The home creates a space where children can come for a consistent, structured play environment. This allows for the kids to learn how to interact with one another, and with adults from outside of their family. Since there are no schools or preschools in Görögszállás, the children’s home becomes extra important in preparing the kids to enter the public school system.
So where do I fit into all of this? Good question! My role changes from day to day, but here is a general idea of what my jobs might be at any given time. Most days, I stop at the store on my way to Görögszállás to pick up supplies for snack time(probably my most important task…). Another of my daily tasks is starting the fire before the families arrive although I am optimistic that this won’t be necessary in another few weeks. Like many of the surrounding houses, the children’s home is heated primarily by wood. Once the kids arrive, everything becomes a bit chaotic. I spend the next several hours playing with the kids, preparing snacks, tending the fire, singing both Hungarian and English nursery rhymes, cleaning up messes, and settling endless disputes over who has the rights to what toy. Around lunch time, the kids head home, and we catch our breath, do a final clean, and prepare for the next day.
This has been a really awesome experience for me. I have always enjoyed spending time with kids, but my policy before this year was to wait until they were old enough to kick a soccer ball before I spent any significant amount of time with them. So spending time with this age group has been entirely new, and doing so in a new culture, with new language, has added to that experience. One thing that I have a greater appreciation for now is seeing the ways that young children build relationships. When you are that little, communication is very restricted, so bonding, and trust often is built upon actions, expressions, and consistency. Since I still struggle with a rather large language barrier here, I often find it easier to connect with the children, than say their parents, who are usually close to my own age. There is something really endearing about seeing these connections develop among the children, and it has encouraged me to look beyond simply the language based components of the relationships that I have built here. I have realized that there is there is so much more to every relationship beyond verbal communication, and I’m not sure there are better teachers for that than a bunch of two year olds!