Fotó: Horváth Balázs, iDeák
Our school was visited by the Ambassador of the USA, David Pressman. He had an open discussion with Mr. Kyle Erckhart’s class, the 11/A. We were fortunate enough to sit in on the discussion.
The Ambassador was sworn into his position on the 8th of August in 2022. Previously he served in the United Nations Security Council as an ambassador of the U.S. Earlier he served as Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security, he also served at the White House as Director of War Crimes and Atrocities on the National Security Council.
When a student asked about how he became an ambassador he replied with a small explanation.
“ I’ve spent my career working on international and national security and foreign policy issues. My first job for the State Department was in 1999, and I worked for the then Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright. I’d like to think of myself as one of her Strategic Advisors, but candidly my job was probably to carry her purse all around the world on various trips.
But I’ve been working on these issues for my whole career in a variety of capacities, and the way one becomes an ambassador, there are a number of paths,[…] fundamentally the choice of who serves as a U.S. Ambassador is a choice the President of the United States makes. And it’s a choice he, or eventually she, will make in conversation with the United States Senate, that votes to confirm who will represent the United States abroad.”
The students also asked him about his day-to-day duties as an ambassador.
In return he asked the students what their perception of the United States is like. The students mentioned Ivy League universities, the lack of knowledge about scholarships outside of sports, and also not knowing about European students getting into these institutions.
The Ambassador advises students interested in learning in the U.S. to visit the American Corner in Agóra, because they have connections to universities and are happy to help with scholarships, admission processes and exchange programs. Our school actually has an exchange program with a high school in Massachusetts.
He also asked the students what they think are the most concerning matters in the world today. The students mentioned the war, the effect it is having on the world, North-Korea’s armaments in nuclear weapons, and rising tensions in the Far-East because of this.
Another question was more specifically the important issues in our country. One of the students mentioned inflation, and the way it affects households even when grocery shopping. Although the Ambassador has only been here for six months, he mentioned that he too noticed the difference in prices.
At the end of the discussion we were able to ask three short questions.
“What would be your life goal as an 18 years old Hungarian student?
I think I’ve made a set of decisions that are different from the decisions other 18 year old Americans would make. Fundamentally I would encourage you to invest your time, energy and resources on issues that you care about.[…] As an 18 year old Hungarian I would probably want to have a good time and maybe figure out where I was gonna go to school and I would be really focused on trying to improve the wellbeing of the people around me.
How has your experience been with Hungarian culture?
Absolutely astounding. There is a depth of beauty and history in Hungary that is hard to find parallels. The history is super interesting and complicated. It has a richness, that as a person and as the U.S. Ambassador, I’ve enjoyed every day and tried to make the most of it. I have spent a lot of time, although not enough, outside of Budapest to see and learn as much as I can.
How has your impression of Szeged and our school been?
My impression of Szeged has been formed by all of 40 minutes. This school is the only place I have ever been in Szeged, and my impression is that it is a profoundly impressive place. Listening to the questions that you and your colleagues were asking in our discussion just moments ago, it’s clear that there is a depth of thought of engagement that is meaningful and gives me optimism about where Szeged and Hungary, where the international community will ultimately get to.”