By Nidhi Sahni, Educator, The Emerald Heights International School, Indore

AFS Intercultural teacher educator volunteer exchange offered me one such wholesome nourishing experience in Bardudvarnok, Hungary. It had all the ingridients of personal, emotional, professional, social, academic, cultural and patriotic nourishment on the same platter.

On a personal front, it was inspirational to see my host sister’s skills who manages time for children, parents, co-workers, friends, pets, handicrafts, hobby shop, and exchange student from Finland and a host sister from India that is ME. It was good o see bounteous potion of emotions which came through little beautiful things that my host family did for me, it veritably demonstrated that Love knows no bars be it language, religion, age etc. Whether it was giving up non vegetarian food on their menu and baking vegan recipes or watching a movie in English and putting Hungarian subtitles for themselves, offering their own seats while dining and  travelling ,acquainting me with the traffic rules and acquiring a travel card and much more left me amazed with their hospitality.

Visit to the Grandparents engendered even more respect for their own choice to live with dignity and venerate the joy of giving. Visit to the school in Kaposvar turned out to be really lucky and enriching. We could share and appreciate the uniqueness in these countries, their culture and educational systems. Visit to Lake Balaton known as the Hungarian Sea, Tapolca with interlocking lake caves, fragrant and lavender coloured Tihany streets with beautiful ceramic pottery, flowers and handicrafts, Visegrad, Hollókő ethnographic village in Hungary which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Buda castle, the Budapest Parliament, the Synagogue etc. were astounding. It was admirable to see the initiative taken to preserve the ancient architecture, ethnicity yet keeping pace with the modern times.

I feel this exchange program has been level next for me whether it was being with a new family, travelling, speaking a new language, comparing currencies despite maths being a weakness, travelling in public transport, shopping, educational system, learning about a new culture etc. helped me to see more in me, discover my unknown strengths, realise more about my own country’s strengths.”