Donald Holub, PCV in Hungary & Nagykanizsa

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By Admin1 (admin) on Saturday, June 23, 2001 - 8:03 am: Edit Post

Donald Holub, PCV in Hungary & Nagykanizsa

Donald Holub, PCV in Hungary & Nagykanizsa

Donald Holub, PCV in Hungary & Nagykanizsa

Alumni and Students Share Their Peace Corps Adventures

Donald Holub, MPA '92

Greetings from Hungary & Nagykanizsa! I can't believe (even now) that I am in the Peace Corps in Hungary. It was certainly a long process to get in, but definitely worth it.

I came to Hungary last summer and to Nagykanizsa last September. I work in a Mayor's office as an Environmental Management Advisor. (Sometimes I don't even know what that means.) When I came I couldn't speak any Hungarian, which is extremely difficult to learn. And unfortunately, not one person out of the 70 people in the Mayor's office, could speak English. The first six months were crazy. However, I got over the hump, and everything is starting to settle down.

Everything I learned at OSU is certainly paying off now. I see a lot of problems here, in terms of organizational development and administration. I have been working on setting up a strategic plan for the mayor's office and a strategic planning seminar, doing some city and regional planning to promote tourism.

At this time I have several other projects that I am working on, which keep me very busy. I just completed a strategic planning workshop for the Hungarian Environmental Educational Association. It was a weekend workshop in a hunter's lodge in the middle of a forest and miles away from everything. We dined on deer and wine at every meal (including breakfast). I served as the instructor, and taught 12 participants. It wasn't perfect, but I felt that I and the others learned a lot about ourselves and strategic planning. As for the future of this project, there are unlimited possibilities.

I also teach four classes at a local high school on Tuesdays, 3 English classes and an environmental English class. The students seem to like me and it really is fun when the class is in session and I am prepared. When I am not prepared, it can be pure hell! When I enter the classroom, all of the students stand until I sit down. The most powerful feeling is the fact that it is my class for 45 minutes, and I can do anything to shape their minds.

The most important project, is my work at a Bosnian refugee camp in Nagyatad, Hungary. It all started when I was walking down the street in N.K. going to the supermarket. A girl stopped me and started speaking about God. I told her that I couldn't speak Hungarian and she began speaking English. Well, I was in desperate need to talk to anybody, so... I learned that her group, called "The Family," was doing some work at a refugee camp. I asked around the Peace Corps about it and another PC volunteer said that she had been there and would like to visit it again. I am now an administrator of a grant from Levi Strauss for $12,000 for that same refugee camp.

This past summer I and my friend Amy Landahl, put on a two week children's program for the children in the refugee camp. It was a great success. I then decided to start a group of volunteers that would go to the camp once a month to do activities with the children. The first weekend program was a huge success, with 12 volunteers. We stayed inside the camp and used the refugee camp school for activities, such as arts & crafts and sports.

I am also purchasing needed items. I just bought a brand new billiard table for the Youth Club. It is really nice. I am also trying to buy Bosnian text books for the school in Zagreb, Croatia. Sometimes I feel like Santa Claus.

I have met a lot of interesting people and made some friends at the camp. It doesn't look like a typical refugee camp; it is a lot better. The sad thing is that many people have given up hope after being in the camp for at least three years or more. It is even worse for the children. Some of these poor kids spend the most impressionable part of their lives here. The saddest story I heard came from a young man named Dragan. I was sitting next to the camp hospital this past summer, when this man came up and we started to talk. He spoke Bosnian and I spoke English, but we tried our best. He fled from his home after he and his mother and siblings were lined up in front of a Serb firing squad and shot. Only he survived. As he said this, he pulled away a band-aid and showed me where a bullet had gone through his flesh. He was trying to find his father who had fled to Canada earlier. He kept smiling though, which made me want to cry. When I asked his age I was shocked to find that he was only 17 years old. He looked about 30. I could write pages of similar stories.

This certainly isn't your traditional Peace Corps country. I just moved to a new flat (apartment) three weeks ago, which was my third move in Nagykaniza. I have really nice furniture (a washing machine, remote-controlled color television, a juice maker, and a mountain bike.) Sometimes I forget that I am in the Peace Corps and in Hungary and then wham! I experience a culture shock like seeing a Hungarian hospital, which is very scary.

If you have time to drop me a line, the address where I can be reached is:

Don Holub Nagykanizsa Polg`armesteri Hivatal Erzs`ebet t`er 7 800 Nagykanizsa, Hungary

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Story Source: Ohio State

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Hungary



By Zsolt Balai ( - on Monday, October 13, 2003 - 3:20 pm: Edit Post

Hello Don,

I'm Zsolt Balai, a member of your hosting family in Kecskemet. We had a very good time together! Thanks for your patience! Since then I came out to Switzerland and I passed the German examination as well. Now I'm starting to learn French. Its also nice.
If you, or anybody who knows you sees this message, please drop me a mail at I would be very happy to hear something about you.

My mother sends her greets too!

Kind Regards


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