US Roma ETAs visited Uszka

Written by Fulbright on 12/03/2015. Posted in News

The weekend of Nov. 27-28, Roma English Teaching Assistants (ETAs) Susanne Liaw (’15 University of Debrecen & AC Debrecen) and Rachel McVey (’15 Jesuit Roma Residential College / Romaversitas Foundation) visited Uszka, a small village located in eastern Hungary along the Ukrainian border at the invitation of István Sértő-Radics (’01 University of Mississippi & ’91 Johns Hopkins University), mayor of Uszka. The town has a population of 400, and is notable for its large population (80%) of Roma residents who live in harmonious integration with non-Roma Hungarians. Zsuzsanna Lakatos, a graduate student in the North American Department at the University of Debrecen, where Susanne Liaw teaches, accompanied the ETAs to serve as a translator.

There, the trio immersed themselves in the local culture by interviewing residents, such as a young father of two who was teaching himself English and web design. One of the village councilwomen prepared traditional foods for the ETAs, such as vakaró, a Roma-style flat bread. The ETAs also attended a church service and observed the central role religion played in the life of the community, and toured some of the new facilities built under an economic development project that has been going on for the past two years. The weekend provided valuable insight into the struggle and progress of the Roma population in overcoming social and economic barriers.