Monday Meeting| 2019-04-08 Lovász Kolos

Connection between Hungarian and foreign students

In these days there isn’t much relationship between the foreign and Hungarian students. How is it and how to try to fix it? – these are the things, we had an interview with Caner Turan, a sixth-year medical student about.

Szinapszis: What do you exactly do relate to “connection between Hungarian and foreign students”?

Caner Turan: Now I’m a sixth-year medical student. I’ve been full-time medical student since the beginning until the end. When I was in the 3rd year, there was a so-called constitutional crisis in HÖK, basically we had two different versions of the Alapszabály, and we couldn’t be sure, which one to use. So, during this time we formed an Interim-Student General Assembly and our job was to write down the new constitution. And back then it was known as ISAS, now it’s ISSA – they asked for some volunteers who would go to these meetings and represent the interests of the foreign students, both the German and the English program. I worked one year on this constitution and following, the acceptance of the constitution. We had elections and the significant thing about the constitution was that we wrote in very concrete terms that in every level of representation inside the Students’ Union there has to be four students. So, we opened up these new places in all General assemblies, committees and most importantly opened a mandated seat in the Senate. After this, in my fourth and fifth years I primarily worked as Presidential Adviser and I was part of a few committees as well as the Cabinet (now is called the Presidency) for two years. Also, I was a clue member working for the Külkapcsolati Bizottság and many different organisations. Then in my fifth year I made a final push to negotiate between the foreign students and the HÖK-people in order to get a bigger international students’ presence inside Students’ Union – with debatable success. And now in my sixth year I still work as a Presidential Appointee and I’m still the mandated foreign students’ senator. Same time from the international side I have been the co-president for a few years of the Turkish Student Association – one of the international associations in the international program.

Sz.: We don’t have many programs together and we actually don’t know each other very well. Is there something you plan to increase the relationship between Hungarian and international students?

C. T.: Absolutely! So, first it’s the priority of the Student’s Union to make a stronger communication between the foreign students and the Hungarian students. We have been working on this issue for a long time and had come up with multiple different projects and we always try to negotiate this with the ISSA and the DSVS. Most of these projects are pending, waiting for an acceptance from the foreign students’ part – but previously we had some initiatives in order to facilitate stronger communication between the two. I think, the project that has been the most successful was an accidental success, which was the Screening Program.

I believe that the screening programme was the strongest communication that we ever had between us and the thing is that the project was actually designed to bring healthcare. This led to a realisation that we are not marketing people we don’t have so many monetary resources to spend. So then we switched our aim towards having programs which would be beneficial for all the students and would easily include as a secondary effect naturally communication between the three programs.

We designed the Language Club where for students primarily would teach other foreign students and Hungarian students their native languages. The project is still going, and I think it’s quite successful, but we need more students to come and teach their language.

What I have been pushing for a long time is the idea of having clubs based on common interests (like music, cinema, deabtes and so on…). I would like to see is the formation of class so that people can come together based on their interests and not with the name tag like ‘I’m an international student please talk to me’. That simply doesn’t work!

Sz.: Though there are some occasions for both Hungarian and foreign students. What are your thoughts on this, do these events really strengthen the communication between the two?

C. T.: You know, the Carnival is actually advertised as an event on order to this. I have been a part of the Carnival since the first year I came to this university. It was like a ‘Great Gatsby’-story, one by one moving on, seeing every perspective of it, and last year, I became one of the main organisers of the event. That means I saw it from many different perspectives.

If you boil it down to what the purpose of the Carnival is, you would get a different answer to this very simple question based on which program you asked. A Hungarian student would say: ‘to meet the international people and cultures!’. A foreign student would say: ‘to present my culture, the things that are meaningful for me.’ But next Monday if you would ask the same students ‘tell me one thing that you learnt about the Greeks that you didn’t know already’ – I’ve never gotten a proper answer to this question. (To be fair if somebody can go and make a friend like this, this is the ideal situation from the point of view of a project designer.)

The thing is, the event does not achieve any of the goals given –cultural learning, food party, celebrating diversity etc. I mean how would you present your whole culture and all the things you want to from a food-table?! The Carnival needs a clear vision and needs focus on its purposes – and it might be that some of these need to be separated from Carnival. To be honest, I never had a boring experience in the Carnival, but we can do without much of the unnecessary costs.

Sz.: Are there any more possibilities you think about? When can we meet in everyday situations?

C. T.: Do you know what would be really good? If we had classes together! I’m not sure how it works on paper so that’s a different story – but one of the primary problems is that Hungarian is a very difficult language and a very nice language. It takes a lot of effort to understand and communicate in it and our education switch off a word you can diagnose. Language is the key to diagnosing someone’s issues and helping them so not being fluent in Hungarian limits patient interaction, as well as limiting what the teachers can teach us.

In my class there was always a good speaker but in other groups body language doesn’t work so well. If at the clinics there would be some teaching assistants, they would not just simply help around, but take the advantage of this forum: for example, if they want to work at this field they are having twice as much of that class.

Sz.: I totally agree with you. Is there anything more you want to say?

C.T.: I would like to say two things. Firstly, we would like to present ourselves. Just give us a day, an occasion, and we will organize everything doing our best. Don’t let us do what anybody can do, but a task we can do and nobody else can’t.

Secondly, we only can represent Semmelweis if we feel we are part of it – else in ten years no one would come here to study from abroad. After all, I would like to say, there are many more problems I couldn’t mention but they exist. We, foreign students love Budapest and Hungarian people, and hope to never feel like as if there is THE Semmelweis which is for Hungarians, and then everyone else in the background.