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To be quite precise, the number of participants this year is two hundred and thirty, which is eighty people more than last year, either studying the Hungarian language at various levels of fluency, or taking part in conferences, summer camps, and other events. Hungarian classes comprise 148 students from as many as 39 different countries from all over the world, including the United Kingdom, Japan, Senegal, Brazil, New Zealand, and Nepal, just to name a few…
“Legend has it that, after the languages use by the Khoikhoi and the Chinese, the third most difficult language to learn in the world is Hungarian. For this token, it is a special honor for us that, for the ninth decade, young and old people with Hungarian roots or just with a good deal of curiosity with no relation whatsoever to Hungarian ancestors come to Debrecen from all over the world to learn about our language, culture, tradition, and history,” said László Csernoch, Vice-Rector of Academic Affairs of the University of Debrecen at the press conference held on Monday before the opening of the course.
“Debrecen’s international relations in the fields of economy, culture, and education have developed significantly recently. Suffice to refer here to the project about the title and status European Capital of Culture, instances of industrial cooperation, or the language instruction available in the grade schools and secondary schools of our city,” said Lajos Barcsa. The Vice-Mayor of Debrecen underlined the fact that the Municipal Government sponsored five students this year with scholarships to participate in the Summer Language and Culture Course of Debrecen Summer School.
Iain Lindsay, Ambassador of the United Kingdom to Hungary, welcomed the participants in Hungarian, emphasizing the responsibility, which he felt as a diplomat to acquire some knowledge of his current host country and that most of this knowledge would be related to Debrecen, where he had spent two months taking an intensive language course.
During the course of the past ninety years, students have come from all of the continents, totaling about ten thousand from 50 different countries altogether. This time, the largest number of them (twenty-five) are from Anglophone countries, while the runners-up are from Slovakia with thirteen participants. The number of students from Asia is also impressive indeed: twenty-two students from China and Japan combined. However, there are going to be smaller groups also from New Zealand, Thailand, Senegal, Nepal, South Korea, Brazil, and Mexico. The oldest participant is 76, while the youngest is but 12 years of age.
“The basic objective has not changed for the past 90-year period: we wish to introduce people to Hungarian language and culture. The real attraction about the Summer Course is in the fact that students coming here find themselves in a truly international and multicultural milieu, which is quite rare elsewhere in the world. In addition, whoever has spent some time with us learning the language at whatever level will most probably become a kind of cultural ambassador of Hungary to some extent,” said Péter Szaffkó, Director of Debrecen Summer School.
The Summer Language and Culture Course is four weeks long and the participants can take classes at twelve levels of fluency from that of total beginners through advanced to the near-native, while they can also join a variety of cultural programs to get familiar with Hungarian culture. Together with staff members of DSS, the students and guests of honor from the diplomatic corps planted a tree to mark the 90th anniversary of the foundation of the institution in the park overby the University Church Building.