Opening ceremony of the academic year at the Ferenc Rakoczi II Transcarpathian Hungarian College of Higher Education

The new academic year opened for 1371 students at the Ferenc Rakoczi II Transcarpathian Hungarian College of Higher Education (II. RF KMF) on 23 September. The opening ceremony was traditionally held in the Reformed Church of Beregszász.

The event began with the parade of historical flags of Transcarpathia, which were carried into the church by students dressed in Kuruc-era attire, accompanied by the sound of tárogató. Afterwards, Ferenc Taracközi, the senior pastor of the Reformed Parish of Beregszász, welcomed the participants.

After our national prayer and the college anthem, Rákóczi Ferenc bús éneke, the guests were welcomed.

In his speech, István Csernicskó, the rector of II. RF KMF, quoted lines from one of Mikszáth Kálmán’s novellas: “Praesens inperfectum, futurum perfectum” meaning “Imperfect present, perfect future.”

“I don’t think the parallel is too strong for our present situation: the present is very imperfect, but anyone who starts a new academic year, either as a teacher or as a student, looks to the future and hopes that it will be better,”

he said. He also stressed that the number of students at our institution has reached a record high again, after last year, with a total of 1371 students.

“The Hungarian community in Transcarpathia has been abandoned several times over the past centuries. First, after the First, and then after the Second World War. However, the community has persevered and remains attached to its homeland. Because anyone who attends the opening of a new academic year and chooses education is looking to the future and investing in it,”

concluded the rector of our college.

Following the rector’s greeting, János Csák, Minister of Culture and Innovation, addressed the attendees.

“Man’s greatest need is attachment, belonging somewhere. We are attached to God, our homeland, our family. Learning and our families are our culture. We, Hungarians, have a very rich culture. We have a spoken, sung, danced, and visual mother tongue. We have an incredibly rich intellectual and spiritual heritage,”

he emphasized. He then stated that the Hungarian government considers it important to support Hungarian culture wherever Hungarians live worldwide because no Hungarian is alone.

“Our main task is to ensure the safety of Transcarpathia and all of you. This is our duty, and the students’ duty is to learn and master the curriculum as well as possible. Before me, Mr Rector mentioned the time of Stalinism, when peoples were annihilated. Today, we are fighting the same evil again and again. The fact that we can talk about the future today is thanks to our army, who are protecting us, so that we can celebrate today”,

said Viktor Mikita, the head of the Transcarpathian Regional Military Administration, and thanked the Hungarian partners for their great support to Transcarpathia and Ukraine.

After the greetings, the first-year students took their vows, after which Ildikó Orosz, president of our college, and István Csernicskó officially inaugurated the freshmen as students of the institution with a handshake, followed by the Student Hymn.

During the opening ceremony, the Rákóczi Prize, established by the college’s Scientific Council, was presented in recognition of the activities of individuals who have played a decisive role in the establishment of independent Hungarian-language higher education in Transcarpathia and in the survival and development of the college. The award is given to those who have made a significant contribution to the education of thousands of young Transcarpathian Hungarians through their moral and financial support, thus helping them to prosper in their homeland. Each year, two individuals – one from the motherland or abroad and one from Transcarpathia – can receive the award. According to the decision of the College Council, the Hungarian recipient in 2023 is János Csák, Minister of Culture and Innovation. The winner from Transcarpathia is Vasil Roszul, former head of the Transcarpathian Regional Department of Public Education.

Following the award ceremony, Ildikó Orosz, president of the II. RF KMF, in her opening speech, recalled Attila József’s poems “Levegőt” and Miklós Radnóti’s “Töredékek“, written in the 1930s and 1940s, which give an accurate picture of violence and the feelings of the little man that still stir in us today.

“What is courage? According to Nelson Mandela, courage is not the absence of fear, but the overcoming of it. A brave man is not one who fears, but one who overcomes fear. That is what we all need,”

she concluded.

Afterwards, the representatives of the historic churches asked God’s blessing on the freshmen and senior students, the teachers, the staff and all those present.

The ceremony ended with the singing of the Szózat.

Anita Kurmay