Holiday Letter

In case I missed anyone, here is my all-holiday note to be inclusive.

Dear Friends,
As much as I dislike generic holiday greetings, our list of wonderful people to reach out to has expanded exponentially over the years thus making it impossible to write each of you individually.

December 14th marked our 5th year anniversary of living in Budapest. It is amazing how many things have transpired since the day we arrived, planning to stay a couple of months and then move on. The roads of life are many and varied and one never knows which path will have that special light to follow a dream.
This has been another exciting year both in and out of Budapest. I took off for a few days of rest and relaxation in April to Amsterdam, while Ron kept the bed and breakfast running. Then he took off for the States with the primary intention of attending his 80 year old sister’s wedding. While he was there, he was able to travel some to visit other friends and relatives.
In August, we went back to Edinburgh for the Fringe Festival. We had no idea of the enormity of it when we bought tickets, but it was definitely a high point in our travel adventures.
On December 19th, we will take off for another great journey. We leave for South Africa. The day after we arrive in Cape Town, we will have a private driver to connect us with our tour group. Our tour will cover parts of Namibia, Botswana, and finally Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. Our original tour was cancelled due to lack of bookings, so we had to modify our plans. Sadly,this tour leaves the morning we arrive, so hence the need for the private driver. At the end of the trip, we will return to Cape Town and spend a week with new friends there. Last year, we found them by renting their little apartment attached to their home.

Don is the Associate Editor for GetAway magazine, a travel magazine that focuses on all of Africa and is distributed to 80 countries. Patricia, his wife is a novelist with 5 novels, 6 childrens books, and three books of poetry to her credit. Two of her novels have been sold to movie studios in the UK. We immediately felt like long lost family with them.

They came to Budapest in May when Don had the writing assignment to go anywhere in the world for 10,000 Rand per person (Approx. $1,500. at that time). They stayed with us as B and B guests so he could include our B and B in his article as a paying guest. The article came out in the November issue. We are excited to see it in print, though he has send us copies online. To read more about them or their week here, search this blog for Don Pinnock or Patricia Schonstein.
We were also thrilled to open our home to Ruth and Henry Ferguson for a weeks visit. Ruth and I worked together at AIDS Case Management in Stanislaus County. It was wonderful to share time with them and catch up on all of the happenings from the time I left to the time Ruth retired. They are such neat people to have around. On a similar note, another nurse Karaan, also from the same Public Health agency and her daughter Heather spent a couple of nights with us. It is such a pleasure to share our experiences with those we have known from the past. My friend, now our friend, Dawn who I went to USF with, is in and out of Budapest as she is an educational consultant and spends a good amount of time in this part of the universe. She stays with us when she is in the city, giving us a sense of continuity with what is happening back home.
We have been fortunate yet again to make friends with the Fulbright Scholars who are studying or teaching here in Hungary. Those that are in Budapest grace us with their presence at least once a week for the ‘game night’ that Ron has made into a tradition over the years we have been here. They are a wonderful source of socialization and entertainment. They are bright, caring and generous people that add greatly to our lives. Kate, who is here on a dance and choreography Fulbright has been our buddy for many dance performances. Lynn, another Fulbrighter went with us and one of my students to Vienna for the day to see the Christmas decorations.
Ron has taken on the challenge of becoming a docent at the Fine Arts Museum. This is the only museum that offers free tours in English twice a day, six days a week. For the last ten weeks, he has been going to classes twice a week for three hours each time. He is learning art history and public speaking. In January when we return, he will do his first training tour. He has been really charged about this and has made friends with another Docent in Training or DIT as they refer to themselves. Mark is a great guy and is here with his partner Chris who is finance manager for EDS. They have been great fun to have around and share things with. I met a fellow named Laszlo, a Hungarian-American who returned here to live. He is also well educated and fun to spend time with. He has been a great social outlet.
As difficult as it is to believe, this is the middle of my 5th year of teaching at the university. I continue to love it, my students are a great joy and want to spend as much time with me outside the classroom as they do in it. I still find it challenging as they give me great latitude with the courses that I can offer beyond the required ones. This semester, I created the courses ‘Ethnicities in the US, Part 1’ and ‘Critical Thinking’. Next semester, I will offer a Part 2 of the Ethnicities class, ‘Critical Thinking, ‘Survey of American Culture’, and ‘Gay and Lesbians in Film’. I have also received permission to create the first online course ever offered, but I have to work out the web space issue first. This will most likely be a summer project.
We will not have e-mail access until January 10th at the earliest when we will return to Cape Town.
This is a quick synopsis of our life and with this, we want to wish all of you a wonderful holiday season and warm wishes for 2007 to be more healthful and prosperous than any expectations could allow.
Ryan and Ron