Working with diversity – Thoughts on the Hungarian Forum of Ottawa

We are ready to join a community. We share the love of Hungarian culture, its history and language but we are even more different than the same. Some of us like reading fiction and some like non-fiction, some have a good ear for music and some just don’t get classical. Some love the traditional dances and dressing up at folk events, some hate even the thought of it. Some would love to discuss current events and others can’t stand the confrontations of politics. Some hold their strict religious beliefs, while some reflect on life more philosophically or don’t care for religious faith at all.

So how do you get these people together in one organization? Do you tell them to speak only one language or another? Do you presume that just because they are from the same nation as you are, they would have the same ideas about history and share your religious beliefs or your values or family ties and keep historical national values intact as they were prescribed a long time ago?

Or do you create a clash with the new generations and their individualistic ideas and their weird taste in music or art?

So will you prescribe the rules and values that all should obey and live by, or would you find another way?

Well, our group has organized itself. It is my doing, I admit, to get a good dozen people together and discuss the issues of our community. But then often I have just been watching and enjoying how the discussion group came alive and started to evolve. No force. No prescription. No expectations, except for anticipation.

In our small group we already have four generations; we have Christian, Muslim, agnostic and atheists, highly educated and labourers, single, divorced and remarried members. We have analytical minds, as well as the poetic or very practical. People that prefer to live by traditions and those that always try something new. And this is exactly what I love about it the most. Even if we do nothing else but talk openly, I will be satisfied.

So where will we be in a year or five years? Not one person can tell, because we all have a hand on the steering wheel through this journey.

Judit Petényi

Judit Petényi is the host of the weekly Hungarian broadcast on CHIN Radio and the President of the fledgling Hungarian Forum of Ottawa.

Judit Petényi

Judit Petényi

One Comment

  1. Charlie London says:

    Judit?

    It’s tolerance!

    And a belief in the democratic process – together with concomitant politeness.

    You say “Even if we do nothing else but talk openly….”. Well that is our only power – our vote and our discussion. Many people in England say we mustn’t talk about religion or politics.

    I disagree – it’s our only power. But ‘only’ doesn’t mean impotant – it is very powerful.

    You are all united with your Hungarianess and your mother country has been through a lot. And I have found you a wonderful, hospitable and funny people. Your culture is fascinating.

    My partner is Hungarian and I know!

    As part of the diaspora that experiences ‘good’ democracy you are well positioned to guide your fellow country(wo)men on the road to democracy, fairness and true freedom.

    I wish the HFO well.

    (If ever you start an English chapter – I’d like to be an honourary member please!)

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