Today I got up very early and went to school. It was chaotic and hilarious. There were students standing around everywhere looking tired and waiting for something to happen. The teachers were either sitting calmly and chatting with others, or running around frantically like they could only find one shoe (both groups seemingly oblivious to the other).
Eventually, all the students lined up in the courtyard of the school to have the first ceremony. The students all stood in one big mass (almost like military troops in a formation), with many of the teachers standing in the front of the groups. I stood opposite them with the rest of the teachers, behind where the Director gave a big speech through a microphone. He introduced me at one point, and I am told he talked about where I come from, what day I arrived in Békéscsaba, the meal I had with him and my contact lady (explaining that I now know what good food tastes like), and that he had a very enjoyable conversation with me.
After everyone entered, they played the Hungarian national anthem through some loudspeakers. I know it was the national anthem because one of the English teachers was kind enough to stand beside me and translate throughout the ceremony (and probably, to make sure I didn't do anything stupid). It was fascinating to watch there reaction to the song. When our national anthem is played in the United States, people tend to look proud, excited, and happy. They want to sing along, cheer, and jump up and down. Here the reaction was quite different. Everyone looked very stern and serious. They weren't smiling and I only noticed one person who was barely mouthing the words. They were all standing very straight and still, and almost seemed to be nervous. There was an eerie feeling in the air.
I was confused about this reaction, so I looked really closely at all of the people and noticed signs of an emotion that I had missed at first. Pride. They all looked very proud. They weren't showing it in the outward, excited way that American's tend to, but it was there nonetheless. I didn't see anyone looking around like they were bored, or chatting to their friends in the back. Instead, They were all taking the song very seriously. All acting as if they know their country has had some very difficult times in the past and know that it has taken great sacrifice by many people just to be able to hear this song. Their faces suggested they don't take that for granted, and know things could change at any moment that would require more hard work and difficulties to help their country survive.
Even through all of it's troubled times, Hungary has been a nation (of some form another) since the year 1000. After seeing what I saw today, I'm beginning to understand why.