A few weeks ago, Alexander Hurla (BA ’22 in Humanities, minor in English) left Manhattan, Kansas, for Budapest, Hungary, to volunteer assistance for those seeking help in response to the war in Ukraine.
In his role at Assistant News Editor for the K-State Collegian, Alex recently published a report of his experience, which we’re featuring here.
Stepping off a train in Budapest, I see signs with Ukrainian flags and words leading towards a government building for people entering the city to register and find resources. A reminder of the thousands of refugees who have passed through here.
I fall in with a crowd of hurrying people whose pace indicates they know where they’re going. I see the street open up to a tent bearing signs of Ukrainian blue and yellow. A line of people in heavy coats and garments huddle around it, trying to keep warm because of the overcast sky. My phone says it’s 38 degrees Fahrenheit, but it’s 3 degrees Celsius to everyone here.
The tall buildings block the afternoon sun, dimming the light as I walk in the direction I think I should be going. Statues and stonework adorn the structures that run in a connected line on either side of the street. At ground level, people bustle past each other, some dodging in and out of local shops and international restaurants.
I arrive at an inconspicuous multi-storied building, much like the rest in the city, and find a small sign for the shelter. I’m buzzed in and climb the worn stone steps that overlook a courtyard in the middle of the ground floor. The uncanny quiet inside is a welcome reprieve from the traffic and city noises outside. At the top, I check in where the volunteers stay and settle into my bunk for a jet-lagged nap in a room of 12 beds, realizing I’m lying in Budapest, Hungary, after barely a week’s planning.
You can read Alex’s full report, “Three weeks at a Ukrainian refugee shelter in Budapest, Hungary” at the K-State Collegian.
Our thanks to Alex for volunteering his help and for offering us a window into the experience of the Ukrainian refugees as they find a way through the current war.
— Karin Westman, Department Head