Ajna Kertesz ’20 Interns at Budapest School and Hungarian National Gallery

This summer I was lucky enough to be  offered two internship positions and I  was able to take on both offers. As a Psychology & Anthropology  double major, it was a great way to explore both fields, and get a sense of what sort of jobs I might be interested in later on.
I spent the majority of my time interning at  Budapest School. This fairly new institution opened its doors in the fall of 2015 with the promise to provide kids an education, that not only gets them into good universities, but also makes them happy, open and accepting of differences as well as preserves their curiosity by making learning a fun and exciting experience.  The founders, Adam Halacsy and Szabolcs Somlai-Fischer,  Co-CEOs of Prezi worked with Psychologists, Cultural Anthropologists and the director of the largest Hungarian publishing company to make this possible. The initially 2 location-based school, with  about 50 kids, has grown into a a large institute with schools all over the country and ages ranging from 3 to 12 yrs.

Small group activity, Budapest School

I felt incredibly honoured and grateful to be working with such a creative, innovative and inspiring community.  It was a wonderful, rewarding, sometimes challenging, but definitely worthwhile experience! I was working with 3-12 year olds (I spent some weeks in the pre-school groups and some in the school), some of the kids here are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, some have other special needs, some just moved to Hungary and don’t speak the language yet, so it was a mix of kids from very different backgrounds, skills and abilities. Using much of what I have learned in my Developmental and Social Psychology courses I was able to interact with and  teach these kids  in a way that made it fun and beneficial for both of us. Every week had a theme, and my favourite was “Travel and Mapping”. After measuring the size of the classroom with steps, drawing a map of the playground, it was time for the most exciting part of the day, the 5 day, 5 continent activity. Here I was able to “take” the kids to places I have visited and they enjoyed looking at pictures and videos of these far away lands, but I think they learned the most, when I was telling them stories, or when they were able to hold coins of the foreign country in their hands and trying to figure out how much they worth.

Showing national costumes of India, China and Japan, as part of the 5 day 5 continent activity at Budapest School

Overall, this experience had taught me that alternative education can work, if the structure is firm enough, and in such understanding and encouraging environments kids learn so much more about each other and then World, than in a traditional school environment. This is something that interests me more as an area of research area, however, really understanding alternative education, wouldn’t have been possible without actually working at a such institution.
On my weekends and my days off I was and still am interning at the Hungarian National Gallery. This is the largest collection of Hungarian artwork from the 15th century until nowadays. Furthermore, it is in the Castle-district, one of the most visited places of Budapest, and is also home to worldwide famous temporary exhibitions, such as the Frida Khao, exhibit which opened this summer.
I work at the information desk providing information about the exhibits and the city, its history, transportation and anything else tourists wonder about. I also helped out at a couple interactive museum sessions for kids, where we made badges out of famous paintings after completing a short quiz. More importantly, I work in the office of the museum, where using qualitative methods, I am analysing the guestbooks of the Gallery. This is very similar to organising and analysing field notes as part of an ethnographic process, yet it is very different. I find it rather interesting, how the visitor’s feedback is considered and how it may influence the curators and designers’ decision in future exhibits.

Helping a patron at the information desk, Hungarian National Gallery

Knowing  how to tag, label or color-code textual data has been incredibly helpful, and really sped up my work with the guestbooks. This experience have made me realize how broad are the options for an Anthropology major and how useful it is to be able to use qualitative methods in the fields of human resources. This is something I may consider after graduation.
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