I had a truly touching experience this afternoon. At the corner shop the shop assistant told the woman in front of me: “Show him your certificate, he should appreciate it, he’s a teacher” (I’m a regular there so they know me.) The woman (around 30-35) presented a sheet of paper – she seemed very proud and uncertain at the same time, as if she couldn’t believe that it was real. She even asked me if I was sure it wasn’t a fake. It seemed genuine enough to me – straight A’s in all subjects. She had obviously been trying (unsuccessfully) to come to terms with her own achievement for some time as she seemed intoxicated (understandable under the circumstances, if you ask me). A bit of background for non-Hungarians: people of Roma origin have to face various forms of major discrimination in Hungary, and the woman was Roma. Her certificate was proof that she had completed her primary education. This might sound like a minor thing, but I’m sure that in her position it was a lot of work and a major achievement. The fact alone that she had the desire to enrol and commitment to graduate is a great thing – not to mention her perfect marks. No Hungarian school will award you straight A’s unless you’re really good. The mixture of childlike joy and disbelief on her face was something to remember.


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