A BROOM STORY / Szilvia Kállai
I did not have goals when I was a young girl. Or rather, I had one: I wanted to become a singer, but my father would not allow me. He said a wooden spoon suited me better. Roma families were characterised by traditions – or, better said, the conventional view of life –which I grew up with. My musician father wanted me to marry another musician, true to the old customs: this is a source of pride in musician families, even today. According to tradition, girls did not have to go to school, their studies were not considered important. Their task was to serve the family.
I dropped out of school after eight years. I had my first child early, at the age of sixteen. By the time I was twenty, I had become a cleaning lady. As I only finished elementary school, I was not qualified for any other position. It did not even occur to me to continue my studies. I was content with my life. It was what I considered normal.
By the time I was thirty-five, something had changed. I set out in a new direction, towards a new kind of life, with much encouragement from my husband, Pepe, who supported me and strengthened my self-confidence. I went back to school. I took evening courses to finish secondary school and passed my final exams, then I went to college to get a degree.
I do not know how it happened. All I know is that I was gradually possessed by a curiosity about new viewpoints. Things I had never seen before suddenly became visible to me. A possibility opened up that I had never thought about. This was due to my growing self-confidence that I was capable and intelligent. I could do it!
After working for twenty-two years as a cleaner, I exchanged my broom for a piece of chalk and a blackboard. I am now surrounded by children, all the time. They call me Miss Szilvi. They say I am their role model. They love me, and they do their homework for my sake. They strive to be good at their studies. They are the kind of children I used to be. They have no goals, they have no plans for the future.
I work so they can have a future. I want them to recognize their hidden abilities. There is always a solution, even if we cannot see it at first.
My name is Szilvia Kállai. At the age of forty-four, I became a teacher “with a specialized degree in Roma culture.” I have been using the chalk for a year, but the broom will always watch me. It will see where I came from and where I am heading. I will never forget how much I fought for the chalk.
Köszönet a tárgykölcsönzőknek és történetmesélőknek:
FISCHER ÁGOTA ÉVA
FÜLÖPNÉ WELTZ MÁRIA
HÁTSZEGI GÁBORNÉ, JULIKA
HELLER MÁRIA (RÓZSA PÁL)
HELLER SÁNDORNÉ, MÜLLER ANIKÓ
KÁNAI GYULÁNÉ PEREDY GIZELLA
LEÁNYFALVINÉ GORDÁN ILDIKÓ
TERÉNYI ISTVÁNNÉ SULLAI VINCENCIA
TÓTHNÉ RUDI MARGIT
Köszönet a kiállítás létrejöttéhez nyújtott segítségért
TÓTH GERGELY MÁTÉ
ELEVEN EMLÉKMŰ CSOPORT
HERITAGE CONTACT ZONE
HUMÁN PLATFORM EGYESÜLET
OPEN SOCIETY ARCHIVES
Castrum Peregrini, Amszterdam
Asociatia Timişoara Capitala Cultural Europeana, Temesvár
Eleven Emlékmű / Humán Platform, Budapest
Etz Hayyim, Hanía, Kréta
European University Institute, Firenze
Culture Action Europe, Brüsszel