KAAD-Alumni Conference in Hungary: Symmetry and Diversity

Symmetry and Diversity – this was the topic of the KAAD Alumni Conference taking place in the educational centre Mater Salvatoris in Gödöllö/Hungary from 23rd to 26th February. Just as diverse as the topic suggested was also the group of the 24 alumni from 7 countries, such as Hungary, Albania, Armenia, Poland, Georgia, Ukraine and Slovakia. The conference was headed by Peter Varga, President of the Hungarian Alumni Association, and Markus Leimbach, Head of the Eastern Europe Department. The wide range of presentations showed the participants’ diversity, from Christian fundamental questions in the Hungarian constitution to the primacy of synodality in the Catholic Church and many topics from the field of German studies and research into customs and traditions.

During the reports from the alumni associations in the evenings, it became clear how difficult it is to motivate alumni to become actively engaged in the activities of the alumni associations in addition to their scientific work, necessary side jobs and their responsibility for their families. Therefore, the conferences, co-financed by Renovabis to a considerable extent, offer an additional motivation.

Apart from the conference, there was a common mess celebrated together in the Pilgrimage Church in Mariabesnyö. The cultural and historical highlights of the conference were the visit to the city of Budapest at night and of Grassalkovich Palace, where the Empress Elisabeth of Austria (Sissi) spent a lot of time. At the end of the conference, the participants enjoyed a wine tasting with typical Hungarian wine and a traditional goulash.

Following the conference, the Head of the Eastern Europe Department, Markus Leimbach, and Peter Varga from the Hungarian Partner Committee had the opportunity to hold talks with the Secretary of the Hungarian Bishops’ Conference, Dr Tamas Toth, the principal of the Pázmány Péter Catholic University, P. Kuminiec, as well as with the vice deans of the Faculty of Law and Humanities and representatives of the international office. The conversations served not only to inform about the conference and work of KAAD in Hungary, but also to discuss possibilities of cooperation.

All in all, the conference was characterized by an open and friendly atmosphere with vivid discussions on quite diverse topics. Thanks to the European diversity of the participants, the conference promoted further networking, not only on a personal, but also on an academic level. A proposal for a research project on multi-perspectival historiography will be further pursued. A thematically structured publication with selected presentations will be another fruit of the conference.