Is this corona virus pandemic enough to kill off the spirit and activities of the Seattle Hungarian School? Not at all! Clearly, we have faced difficult challenges this last spring. Our venue, the Overlake Christian Church (OCC) in Redmond, closed its doors, and the governor ordered everyone to Stay Home and Stay Safe. It was also a challenge just to find time for volunteer work when every family’s schedule was thrown into chaos by the closing of offices, schools and daycare facilities.
However, everything can be overcome given enough time. Now that we have adjusted somewhat to this “new normal,” the Hungarian School is excited to announce several new opportunities that came about because of this disruptive pandemic. Several teachers from Hungary reached out via email to offer their services as remote, online teachers of Hungarian. We have spent the summer researching our options in this area and planning some wonderful offerings for all those who are interested.
Since June, a group of five adult students, most of whom were regulars at our Saturday classes at the OCC, have been studying online with Gergely Németh of Magyar mint Idegen Nyelv, Miskolc (MIDMi). The summer session ended on August 18th, but this High Beginner class will continue weekly Sunday morning meetings online starting September 13th. Others are welcome to join as well.
In addition, we are finalizing plans for a monthly Sunday evening online class. This will be conducted in Hungarian for advanced teen and adult learners, or those who simply wish to exercise their rusty Hungarian speaking skills. The theme will be Pécs, our sister city! The class will be led by Vanda Erdősi, a doctoral student in Applied Linguistics at the University of Pécs.
We will be continuing the twice-monthly Saturday morning Zoom sessions for kids which began in May, where our whole Hungarian-speaking school community comes together for a series of short activities. This will progress from kindergarten level through middle school level over the course of a 90-minute session. Families will be able to drop in for shorter or longer times, as their schedules and attention spans allow, and helps us keep socializing in Hungarian in spite of our physical separation.
We are also still exploring options for a beginner Hungarian language class taught by a teacher in Hungary for those children who don’t speak or understand much Hungarian at this time.
The Overlake Christian Church remains closed through at least January. Unfortunately, we cannot bring our popular toddler and pre-school classes online with any hope of success, but these will be the first classes to be restarted in person when restrictions allow it. The Hungarian American Association of Washington’s (HAAW) courses in the Hungarian School are all tuition-free this fall, since we had both grant and tuition income last year, and much lower expenses this year as well.
We primarily serve members of HAAW, and hope everyone who can do so will join. We are also more than happy to support those who cannot afford the current membership dues. Our all-volunteer staff and faculty are pleased to continue offering these Hungarian language, literacy and cultural opportunities, and hope everyone can enjoy taking full advantage of them.