This April CCH is privileged to host two community organizing interns from Budapest, Hungary. Bernadett Sebály (left) and Judit Szollár (right) are visiting through Great Lakes Consortium’s Teach Democracy Exchange Program. In return, CCH Senior Organizer Wayne Richard will travel to Eastern Europe next winter. Among their Illinois experiences, Betti and Judit met with Gov. Pat Quinn, and they will join CCH in Springfield next Wednesday to advocate with legislators. We asked the young organizers to write about their work.
I have come to the U.S. to learn about community organizing. At home I work as a social worker in a family shelter, which provides temporary shelter for families. We help these families find housing alternatives and equip them to live on their own and organize their own lives.
I am also a member of the New Approach group, which is a decentralized, independent voluntary group of professional social workers that fuses the spirit of community work with radical social work. It was formed in 2010 with the aim of renewing the Social Worker’s Code of Ethics. As a group, we would like to provide a forum for the discussion of social issues and the development of strategies for taking action. As an action group, our goal is to both make the decision-makers, the politicians and the general public aware of the situation of marginalized people in Hungary and to build up a professional community that will stand up for the oppressed.
I am very happy to be a part of the Teach Democracy Exchange Program. We have been very busy since I came to United States. At the start of the program, we learned about community organizing, the electoral system in the U.S., action planning, different minority groups, and many other issues and topics. We visited various organizations in Virginia and Detroit before Chicago.
I am enjoying my time with the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless. I have come to see how powerful a tool community organizing can be for addressing homelessness. I am excited to implement the things I am learning in the work I do in Hungary.
I’m a civil society professional and activist from Hungary. I came to the U.S. to increase my knowledge of community organizing. Along with this exchange program, I am spending the year working with Virginia Organizing in Charlottesville.
Promoting grassroots organizing and cross-class alliance mean a great deal to me. In Hungary, I work for a British NGO called Minority Rights Group as a Media Officer where I have worked with grassroots minority organizations. Also, I am an activist with The City Is For All, a movement of homeless and non-homeless people, campaigning for more affordable housing and public housing.
As a cultural anthropologist, I enjoy working with people in different social and cultural contexts. I like it when we create a common basis of knowledge and act together. I believe this world will become more equal if more and more organized groups of people, people with different identities and social backgrounds, work together to ensure that even the poorest and the most vulnerable can effectively take part in policy-making.
I hope to gain some more experience and learn about different approaches and methods of community organizing during my time in the U.S. I believe this experience will both guide and empower me in the work I do back home.