The HarmsBoones


Author: Greg Boone

Classroom 2.0: The Wiki Experiment

A few weeks ago I created a wiki for the CETP program in hopes that CETP participants would share experiences and words of wisdom about their homes and schools in Hungary. So far few have taken up the cause, and I suspect it has something to do with time. Updating a wiki about the place you’ve lived for nearly a year, not to mention working with an unfamiliar interface takes a certain amount of energy. In fact, I haven’t even had time to make one about Kaposvár or my school and it was my idea! To solve this problem, I endeavored to pass along the burden of typing up all the important information about my school, town, and Hungary to my students, a task that was recently partially completed. Continue reading “Classroom 2.0: The Wiki Experiment”

Munkácsy Times

A quick update for everyone out there. We at Munkácsy Mihály Gimnázium started an English language newspaper at our school last December. We published one issue in print and now it will continue, mostly, online. Check it out at All the articles from our first issue are already available there, and new articles will be published all this week.

A Legfinomabb Magyar Étel

After a long disznóvágás day, the blood sausage is ready.

On a Friday in late autumn, I walked into my ninth grade bilingual classroom to find an interesting query scrawled across the blackboard. “What is disznóvágás in English?” My command of basic Hungarian pronunciation was still rough around the edges, and as I read the sentence aloud, I mangled the word. I waited for the students to have a good laugh at my expense before I could get a chance to ask, “What exactly is a disznóvágás?” As they explained it to me the first time, I gathered that it was a pig slaughter, but little more.
Continue reading “A Legfinomabb Magyar Étel”

State Fair Food Pitched by Munkácsy Students

This past weekend, Kaposvár celebrated the Hungarian tradition of Farsang (far-shaang). The festival featured creatures known as Busó (pronounced boo-show) roaming around Kossuth square, mostly scaring children and dogs, but some also got a bit aggressive with the ladies, which was a little strange. The story of the Buso goes something like this: Continue reading “State Fair Food Pitched by Munkácsy Students”

It’s a Map!

Seeing as this is a blog written by two travelers who can’t seem to write about their destinations fast enough, we thought it would be a good idea to map our travels. Now, you can see all our destinations at once—everywhere we’ve been in the entire world (though we’ve been so many places in the motherland that we only included a few), and click on them to learn more information. If there are blog posts about that place, you will see them listed below the place description, and if we happened to snap a photo while we were there, you’ll see one of those two. There are still some bugs to be worked out, and any suggestions—style, functionality, or otherwise—are more than welcome either in the comments here or by email. And now, without further ado, we present the map:

Click here for a map of the places we have visited, and learn more about them.

Cross-posted: Harms-Boone Admin Blog, Schoolhouse: ROK, Keeping up with the Magyars

Behind the Scenes

On our blogs we often reflect on our time abroad; the things that surprise, challenge, and force us into changing our perspective. We offer travel and teaching advice, recipes, and occasionally a post about a dog sneaks in, but what we rarely do is write about our day to day, the things that keep us busy after school, and the things we do to stay in touch with home. Today we offer the latter.

Some of our closer friends, or Twitter followers, may know that Danielle has been writing a monthly column for her hometown newspaper, The Sun Prairie Star. Her most recent piece was about the experiences of Sun Prairians living abroad during the holidays. Greg will also be writing outside the Harms-Boone sphere; he was invited to write for the travel blogs. He is not sure what he will write about yet, or when it will be published, but it will for sure be linked here. CheapOair is another discount airfare website competing with the likes of Kayak, SkyScanner, and others.

At school, Greg launched the first (ever?) English language newspaper at his high school called The Munkácsy Times. The articles were written by a dedicated, hard-working group of 10th and 11th graders. The first issue dropped this week, and it will be published monthly. A download of the PDF is linked at the bottom of this page. At this point Munkácsy students are required to pay almost a dollar for a color copy of the publication; donations and advertising are accepted by paypal! Greg is also working to organize a web design club, and an East Asian cultures club at Munkácsy High School next semester: did I hear Kimchi making experiment? Send forth your recipes, film recommendations, and anything else you can think of to introduce Central European high school students to East Asia.

Other things that have kept us busy have included wild and crazy adventures to Budapest, coming up with a neat way to visualize our travels and experiences using both the Google Maps API and Protovis (which has included Greg getting a crash course in javascript), baking like crazy, and catching up on some television shows we heard were too good to miss (mostly The Wire, and Dexter). Finally, our friends Kristin Pederson and Tyler Ray, who are on their second tour of Korea this time in Daegu, have launched a lovely website, you should visit it and read their blogs about baking and living in South Korea.

Download: Munkácsy Times Volume 1, Issue 1 [PDF]

A Quick (Belated) Podcast

It’s been a while since our last post here at Keeping up with the Magyars, but among working, applying for graduate school, and enjoying this splendid country, we have not had a lot of time for updating the blog.

So here it is, a collection of audio sampled from across about two months covering the first day of school, a community celebration, and the 54th Anniverssary of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. Enjoy the audio, and stay tuned here for future entries about dinner parties, education in Hungary, and our upcoming week in Slovenia.


Perspectives on the News: Juan Williams

Earlier this week NPR fired news analyst Juan Williams in part for comments he made on Fox News’ O’Rilley Factor. The comment was not well worded, but on a 24-hour, ratings-driven, news network, and especially on The O’Rilley Factor, it’s almost impossible to choose your words carefully. O’Rilley has a way of goading his guests and full-on ignoring them when they say things with which he disagrees. He is notorious for this, and Williams and NPR surely knew that before he went on the program. After the firing, the public, politicians, and media communities erupted in criticism against NPR. Republican leaders including South Carolina Representative Jim DeMint called for NPR’s federal funding to be revoked, long-time NPR listeners threatened to stop donating forever, and affiliate stations also distanced themselves from the network while demanding an answer from it.

Some have called NPR’s action censorship, and to be sure it is not; at least not the kind that violates the US Constitution. NPR is a private, non-profit organization that receives a portion of it’s funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a government-run corporation. To call NPR a state agency that must protect and observe the Constitution is laughable. With that said, there is something to the notion that American organizations should honor the freedom of speech guaranteed by the constitution regardless of whether they are part of the government. They may not be constitutionally obligated to, but they merely should out of respect for American liberty. That reasoning, however, ultimately suggests that any individual has the liberty to slander their employer and have ultimate job security. Surely Rep. DeMint wouldn’t want a senior campaign staffer going on Meet the Press and opining to the nation that the Representative is a bigoted numb-skull with no grasp on reality; he certainly has a right to say it, but not while working for Representative DeMint’s campaign. Similarly, NPR does not want its employees going on national television and behaving in a manner that violates their code of ethics which expressly states that “NPR journalists should not express views they would not air in their role as an NPR journalist. They should not participate in shows . . . that encourage punditry and speculation rather than fact-based analysis.” Williams’ comments were what MPR’s Bob Collins called “a run-in with reality.”

Juan Williams had absolutely every right to say what he said on The Factor. He had every right to appear on Bill O’Rilley’s show, every right to express his anxieties, and had that right every time he appeared on the show. He still has that right, and has actively demonstrated it by accepting a new $2 million contract with Fox News. What is important for Williams, Fox News, and NPR listeners to understand is that a liberty as great as those protected by the First Amendment comes with responsibilities, and that while you have a right to say something, that does not mean there are not consequences for your speech. For Williams, that consequence was losing his job at NPR.

As Vivian Schiller and the Alicia Shepard, NPR Ombudsman, said in separate remarks, this was not the first time Williams’ Fox News commentaries went against the grain. “Williams’ appearances on Fox News, especially O’Reilly’s show, have caused heartburn repeatedly for NPR over the last few years.” Shepard continued to detail the Stokely Carmichael-in-a-designer-dress incident from 2009, and the 2008 change of his role as “correspondent (a reporting job) to news analyst.” While Shepard admits that NPR handled the incident poorly, “this latest incident with Williams centers around a collision of values: NPR’s values emphasizing fact-based, objective journalism versus the tendency in some parts of the news media, notably Fox News, to promote only one side of the ideological spectrum.”

Juan Williams on Fox News was an entirely different voice than the one we heard on NPR. On NPR he fit the model for reasoned discourse on issues of public importance, on Fox News, he fit their model. On PBS’s Newshour this week Callie Crossley, host of the Callie Crossley Show, noted, that there are two different cultures between NPR and Fox News, and it becomes impossible to reconcile Williams the Fox News pundit and Williams the NPR analyst when those two roles appear radically different. “There is one person, Mara Liasson, who is operating in both the cultures,” said Crossley, “the difference there is that she is consistent in her tone, temperament and opinion wherever she is.”

In the end NPR did what it had to do. Some have gotten hung up on what constitutes fact-based analysis, and that is an important discussion to have, but as Kelly McBride at the Pointer Institute noted on Newshour, “NPR has a completely different set of standards for what type of opinion it will tolerate… than Fox News has.” (Emphasis added) Williams’ firing was caused by his speech and decorum on the Fox News network, not prior restraint against his right to freely express himself.

According to NPR, when Williams appeared on The Factor, he spoke not as just an individual, but as an employee of NPR. Perhaps it is too high a standard to expect journalists to represent their organization regardless of where they open their mouth. But if all organizations held their employees to this standard, perhaps it would make for better news across the industry; perhaps it would foster a healthier, more intelligent, democracy.

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