Experiential Education: Foster Care and Roma Communities in Hungary

A conversation with Experiential Educator Árpád Bárnai on the Transnatural Perspectives Podcast

Photo Courtesy of Árpád Bárnai

Árpád Bárnai is the Head of Training and Development at the Academy of Experience in Budapest. The Academy supports local youth in foster care programs and Roma communities though offering Outdoor and Experiential Education workshops, activities and other community building exchange opportunities.

Bárnai works at the core of what this podcast is all about, upon the intersection of social, cultural, and ecological sustainability. In this case engaging socially marginalized communities of various sociocultural backgrounds in nature and place based activities with a focus on community connection through nature connections.

As well, Bárnai is the host of “The Source ”, a podcast all about the power of experiential education in different contexts. You can find the show both in Hungarian and now in English.

In this episode, Bárnai shares his unique experience, adding to our growing atmosphere here of Transnatural Perspectives. I’ve been searching for more information about work with Roma diaspora, a topic that I just haven’t seen much information on in the world of Outdoor and Experiential education.

Many listeners may be very familiar with the concepts of Experiential Education, whereas, for others this talk may be your first encounter. However, I think experience is something we all have…well experienced with. There’s that old saying, “if a tree falls in the woods, but nobody is there, did it make a sound?”, and I think the same can go for the concept of experience. If an experience is not reflected upon…was it an experience at all? What did we learn from it and what is it’s value in our lives? I’m not going to imply anything here, because I think there are many perspectives on that… just something to think about.

But one thing we can garner from Bárnai’s work is that facilitating experiences can be a powerful method of providing a space for youth, and people of all ages for that matter, to exercise their agency, practice responsibility, and grow. Experience and opportunity comes easier to some people more than others. In some cases, entire social, cultural, ecological or economic groups have been marginalized out of crucial experiences. Ironically, sometimes these groups are ostracized by the very communities that expect them to fulfill certain societal standards.

That doesn’t sound sustainable, does it?

Now, whether these so-called societal standards are reasonable or just is in itself debatable, but generally speaking, How can anyone be expected to even begin fulfill the demands of any society when they have been marginalized out of access to learning experiences? As we well know the institutionalized practice of systemic discrimination further destabilizes communities and keeps us from achieving ecosocial sustainability, something that universally impacts human and more-than-human individuals and communities at large.

Listen to the full episode here

Host: Transnatural Perspectives Podcast. Educator, Guide, Communication Artist. Cultivating perspectives on Society & Culture across Environments & Landscapes