contributed by Katalin Pearman, Honorary Consul
Budapest Fellowship Program
In September 2020, the Hungary Foundation and Mathias Corvinus Collegium of Budapest, Hungary, established the Budapest Fellowship Program (BFP), a full-time, fully-funded transatlantic fellowship opportunity in Budapest, for young American scholars and professionals. The goals of the ten-month program are strengthening US-Hungarian professional, academic and cultural ties by cultivating the next generation of Hungarian policy professionals, and equip them with a thorough understanding of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and Hungary. The fellows have the opportunity to conduct independent research on the topic of their choosing, and gain practical experience working at a Hungarian host institution that matches their professional interests.
The program has concluded its first year. Since September of last year, Nicole Nemeth, Stephen Sholl, Ryan Brockhaus, and George Bogden have filled the role of BFP fellows. They attended more than 45 lectures, discussed at least a dozen Hungarian books and films, and taken part in Hungarian language classes. They went on several excursions, discovering various areas of Hungary and the Carpathian Basin.
Utilizing the opportunities brought to the table by their established host institutions, the four fellows concluded individual research projects with the help of their mentors. Fellows’ publications have appeared in Hungarian and US media outlets, shedding light on the importance of history, current events such as US-Hungarian defense cooperation, the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, and issues connected to the rights of ethnic minorities. In addition, the fellows took part in the educational activities of Mathias Corvinus Collegium.
During this time the Hungary Foundation and Mathias Corvinus Collegium worked with such institutions as Nemzetpolitikai Kutatóintézet, the Danube Institute, the Committee of National Remembrance, University of Public Service – Ludovika, Office of the Hungarian National Assembly, and Ulysses Hungarian Language School.
The following are comments by the individual fellows:
Stephen Sholl: My time in Hungary, working under the guidance of Mathe Aron of the Nemzeti Emlékezet Biztottsága, has been a blessing in every sense of the word. The sheer amount of knowledge I have gained from Mr. Aron and the other esteemed members of the organization has illuminated my understanding of Hungarian history more than I could have possibly imagined. In fact, the entire Program has led me to a deep appreciation of Hungarian history, culture, and nationhood that is quite remarkable. I have never had people open their arms to me in such a way, and share with me the riches and blessings of their culture. I am greatly honored by this.
Ryan Brockhaus: It is important for Americans to educate themselves on the history of Central Europe and how the bi-lateral relationship could improve. This program recognizes this need and provides the tools necessary for Americans to better understand CEE, particularly Hungary.
Nicole Nemeth: We absolutely fell in love with Hungary. We had the chance to get to know first of all Budapest, and then other parts of the country as well. The people are very nice, warm-hearted and welcoming.
George Bogden: For me, the highlights of the program were the people – my co-Fellows, my mentor, and the speakers. I learned the most from interactions with them. I have already recommended the program to others. It is like no other fellowship out there. It envelops participants in a schedule of fantastic opportunities and eye-opening experiences.
After the conclusion of the Program, Nicole and George will go back to the US to practice law, and Ryan will continue to pursue and finish his studies. Stephen will return to Hungary this fall to continue his discoveries in Hungary, this time in the role of a Mathias Corvinus Collegium’s visiting fellow.