The place I belong to

Zsófia Szatmári-Margitai

February 11, 2020

Why is it so difficult to tell what the core of Holis School is? Why is it so complicated to answer the simple question: How was the summer school? Why am I obsessed to go back from year to year since 2014 and keep Holis in my heart and use its energy for all year long?

photo: Krstan Petrucz / Holis School. 2019

I don’t know the answer. But I truly wish to have more and more communities like Holis, and to make everyday life feel deeper and more connected through genuine human bonds.

Holis is an interdisciplinary summer school that fosters social innovation through collaborative creativity. Each year we spend 10 days in rural areas, work with local partners who help us identify challenges, generate and refine prototypes, and implement the final ideas. We nurture strong connections with local people and our beloved hosts.

Each year some 20–30 open-minded, warm-hearted, curious individuals come from all over the world with different professional backgrounds, life experiences, representing cultural and social varieties to spend their vacation doing something good. It’s fascinating to experience that intense work and engagement from the very beginning.

photo: Krstan Petrucz / Holis School. 2019

I’m not the only one who cannot grasp the essence of Holis and describe what this magic running through its nearly 2 weeks is, even though it’s easy to share what kinds of projects we did — later on there will be posts about those as well.

Now let’s focus on the harder part and define the essence of Holis, which is for me:

Having deep conversations from the very beginning, and starting to get to know each other by asking questions like:
- “If you are struggling with something, how do you usually get over it?”
- “What kinds of questions do you usually think about, but haven’t found the answers for yet?”
- “What makes you get into flow?”
And I could continue this list, but it already describes how privileged I feel to get to know a person from her/his heart and not primarily from her/his mind. It’s a bit like those conversations that the Fox had with the Little Prince.

Photo: Julia Karczewska / Holis School. 2018

To show actual vulnerability and not just talk about how important our emotions, fears and doubts are. To truly live with them. You can stop a conversation or group-work and say “I’m lost. / I don’t understand. / It’s too much for me. / I have to cry and I cannot explain my feelings.” And they will listen, understand and comfort you. Because it’s normal to have harder days.

Photo: Julia Karczewska / Holis School. 2018

To live as conscious human beings by paying attention to body, soul and the mind. The food and eating in community can heal you. I have nice memories of sharing food and sitting at the same table from day to day. Eszter and her cooking mates are doing the best plant-based food, which is definitely one of the core values or properties of Holis. Besides eating, we have time for meditation, yoga or running each morning — if we want so. But you can just sit and watch the sunrise and feel warmer day by day.

photo: Krstan Petrucz / Holis School. 2019

To be always close to nature, have a simple camp site, and realizing how we can fulfill our basic needs and be pleased with that. It’s precious to be isolated in a rural area after our noisy and busy city life. And I’m sure all of the things mentioned above can happen since we are just on our own and are close enough to nature to start respecting and admiring it again.

photo: Krstan Petrucz / Holis School. 2019

The moments I would love to freeze. During the year when someone asks me “Are you happy?” I always retort: “Please define happiness.” When I think about happiness, in my mind are those moments when I am present and conscious, and I would just love to experience them again and again, or just simply freeze them. I’m lucky and happy that I have several of those moments from Holis:

- having a long conversation with someone I haven’t known couple of days ago;
- watching the amazing sky each night and admiring the Milky Way;
- sitting around a bonfire, sharing stories as in old times or just playing music;
- jumping to the lake from a sailing boat and enjoying the water as it would be just ours;
- walking home from the nearest village during the night and feeling the cool summer air on your skin;
- feeling the love and welcome from our hosts who opened their homes for us;
- being understood and listened to.

photo: Eliza Chojnacka / Holis School. 2017

And I could continue this list, but these can happen in any community where people have real connections and values towards each other and nature. Human connections, food sharing and nature are some of the basic elements of healing. I’m fortunate enough to have found my community couple of years ago, and while we are doing creative work and focus on rural challenges, I have the opportunity to meet wonderful people from year to year.

So this is my Holis experience: the sense of belonging.

See you next year.

photo: Krstan Petrucz / Holis School. 2019