Posted: July 23rd, 2013
By: Al Suarez (JD, ’15)
Crazy to think it has already been three weeks into our European adventure and we only have one more week of class…This week was an especially adventure filled week.
Below is a gallery of photos from our third week in Vienna with Lord Phillips and our class trip to Budapest: scroll through to view captions! Additionally, view more photo highlights from Vienna.
Lord Phillips. For class on Monday and Tuesday we had the pleasure of hanging out with the prestigious Lord Phillips. He has an absurd resume, which includes being the first-ever President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom (see more here: Baron Phillips of Worth Matravers). His experience of working his way to the highest level of the judicial ranks in the UK, and his unique perspective on the establishment and effectiveness of the European Court of Human Rights was a perfect complement to what we have been discussing over the past few weeks. Thank you so much to Lord Phillips for being so candid in his discussion, for coming out to lunch with us all, and for sharing his life and judicial experiences with us all.
Most depressing movie ever. In preparation for our trip to Budapest to meet with several organizations that fight for Roma rights, we watched a movie called CSAK A SZÉL. It was the story of a Roma family that was murdered in their home as a part of a group of killings in Budapest in 2008 that targeted the Roma people. The movie tracked a day in the life of an impoverished Roma family in Hungary and their constant struggle to survive in a society of which they are outcasts. It gave us great context for what issues the Roma face and of the evil of humans even in todays “modern” world. For more information on the Roma people and the atrocious treatment of the Roma people throughout the world please look at these articles for context. To me it is shocking and shameful that people could still be treated this way because of an arbitrary and ridiculous distinction. It is just further proof that many of us have learned very little from recent world history and serves as another very important reason to continue the focus on human rights throughout the world.
7AM train to Budapest. Pretty painless overall. We arrived and immediately meet with Professor Kocze (a university Professor and a very proud and cool Roma woman). She set up meetings with several local organizations who fight for Roma rights in Hungary and across Europe. The first NGO we met with was the Chance for Children Foundation. This organization is a small and amazing group who fight for Roma Children primarily for equal opportunity to education issues. Please check out their website and inquire further into this group. They are doing amazing work and fighting for a truly noble cause. It was a bit disheartening to see how hard they work and how even though they are making legal strides, they are still facing incredible hurdles in both politics and media. The segregation of Roma children and the overall attitude toward the Roma people throughout Europe is shocking and has slight resemblances to disenfranchised African-Americans in post-civil war U.S. (and many other groups who have been marginalized without any logical cause based on race or ethnicity). Also, a huge amount of respect is owed to George Soros for funding this organization. It was great to see the results of billionaire philanthropy on the ground.
The next organization we visited was the European Roma Rights Centre. This organization was much larger and had a much larger scope. They have an interest in cases and causes all throughout Europe dealing with Roma rights. They seem to be having significant success in helping fight for Roma rights and it was good to see advocacy on this scale, but in my opinion this organization did not have the same grassroots feel that was so impressive with the CFCF.
A big thank you to both organizations for taking time out of their days to meet with us and explain the current climate and issues of Roma rights in Europe.
Traditional Hungarian dinner with the group in the evening. Following a long travel day and all afternoon in meetings, Professor Kocze set up a very traditional Hungarian dinner with the group. The dinner was delicious and it was wonderful to get to eat, drink, and hang as a group in Budapest. *After dinner shenanigans excluded*. Maybe my favorite group day of the trip so far.
A huge thank you to Professor Kocze for taking time out of her schedule to set up such an amazing trip for our group. The ability to see theoretical issues we have discussed in class in a practical environment, and to further understand how fundamentally important issues are that many see as no longer prevalent was a great experience. It sounds like Professor Kocze will be teaching again at Wake Forest in the fall. If any students have a chance to take/audit one of her courses, you should absolutely take advantage. Also if you are interested in learning more about these issues, you should absolutely contact Professor Parker to get her contact information.
Budapest. Adventure. The group stayed the night at a local hostel very near the heart of Budapest. For 15 euros a night it was pretty much ideal. We had breakfast at this really cool little café called Mosaic, which had great breakfast coffee and juice for only a few euros. Seemed like stealing for those of us who have been traveling to places like Zurich or Rome. The group split up after breakfast to see the sights. We had a pretty good time wandering. Not my favorite city we have seen but still fun (the architecture was beautiful but the city was a bit dirty and the people were a bit grumpy for my taste). We decided to catch a night bus out of town, which turned out to be a bit of nightmare. We got to the station about 30 minutes before the bus left and had absolutely no chance to get on. So we decided to catch the underground back across town to catch the last train to Vienna. No harm done. Except… our 24 underground passes had expired and riding the underground with an expired pass is extremely frowned upon in Budapest it turns out (to the tune of a 30 euro citation). We finally arrived back to the station where the trip started- frazzled, tired, and dirty. Luckily we made our train, and besides having to eat a train station K-bab for dinner and not getting home till around 1AM, we survived the trip without any major damage. Again…so great to be home in Vienna.
Naschmarkt. Phil. After sleeping in and trying to recoup from our Hungarian adventure we decided to head over to the famed Naschmarkt. This is a really cool European style market that has been around since the 16th century and is pretty infamous throughout Europe. It was a really fun vibe and a great place to search for weird trinkets or great fresh produce from throughout the world.
We also decided today was a great day to start our Viennese coffee shop tour. Viennese coffee shops are a huge part of the culture and something definitely worth experiencing while here. Our first experience was definitely not your tradition Viennese coffee house experience. We went to a coffee shop bookstore called Phil. It was totally my scene. Very trendy and cool. Great record and book selection and great place to just hang out. Definitely worth the trip if ever in the area. More to come…
Viennese coffee shop tour continued. Today we decided to wander into the Inner Stadt to start checking off some of the notable coffee houses in Vienna off our list. We settled in at Café Bruenhof to do a little research and read. It was very quaint and cool. The three-piece orchestra was a nice touch and the espresso was absurdly good. Great place to work on a paper, read, or just hang. Definitely see why Vienna is known for their coffee houses. I headed home to catch as much of the British Open as possible (kind of a treat to be in a close enough time zone that I do not have to get up at the crack of dawn to catch it. Not the biggest Phil fan in the world but that was scary impressive to watch. It seems like an upside down world when Tiger continues to struggle on Sunday, and Phil is playing rounds like that in the clutch.
Come back next week for a continuation of the coffee house tour, Schonbrunn Palace, Zoo, Viennese street art, and our final days in Vienna/post class travel plans.
Al Suarez is a WFU Law J.D. Candidate and will graduate in 2015. He is a participant in the summer Vienna program.