Meet Viktória Seavey: She left Hungary to live in the forests of the Berkshires
ACCENTS: THE VOICES OF OUR IMMIGRANT NEIGHBORS IN THE BERKSHIRES
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OTIS — Viktória Seavey used to hide on Easter Monday to avoid getting a bucket of water dumped over her.
In their home in Otis, Seavey's American husband Adam sometimes jokes about restoring the Hungarian Easter tradition of dousing young women.
But for the former Viktória Horváth from the small Hungarian town of Kapuvár, the "watering" of girls and women for Easter is folklore that she gladly left behind when she moved to the United States seven years ago.
She has degrees in Technical Management and Social Pedagogy from her home country. She transferred her life coaching practice from Hungary to the Berkshires and uses her computer background in her jobs as technology coordinator and computer literacy teacher for Berkshire Community College's Adult Learning Program.
In her woodstove heated, tree shaded home on the bank of the Farmington river she talks about the Easter poem Hungarian boys recite to ask for permission before they drench the girls.
"They actually get rewarded for throwing the water," she says, ironic unbelief in her tone.
"The girls give them painted eggs as a thank you because they got watered and now they are not going to dry out. They can thrive...
"That's the message behind it," she continues. " When you water a plant the plant will grow, it will bloom, it will be beautiful."
In today's Hungary this tradition is mostly replaced with spritzes of perfume for women the day after Easter, says Seavey. But in her young childhood years in the 1980's it often still was an old fashioned soaking.
"Honestly, I did not like that," she laughs. "As a kid I wanted to hide. It was kind of silly in the modern world."
The modern world, Seavey says, only really came to Hungary when the Russian occupation and communism ended and the borders opened in 1989.
"It sounds probably very surprising for people living in the United States, but before that we had no television on Mondays," she says. "There were not many options. You couldn't buy much in the shops. Only if you had good connections and you were really lucky could you sometimes buy bananas from under the counter."
Her home town of Kapuvár is close to the Austrian border, in a flat, open landscape, "Unlike the Berkshires with the hills and the forests."
Seavey's mother Terézia sells furniture in her own store, her father István works as an auto body mechanic in Austria. Viktória worked happily as a social and family educator in town. In Hungary's capital city Budapest she trained as a Spiritual and Motivational Counselor.
"I had no desire to move. I was totally fine where I was," she says. "My life was great. But then, as life goes, you never know what kind of gift is waiting for you."
At a Reconnective Healing seminar in 2010 in Hungary she met Adam Seavey, an assistant in the program.
"I didn't really speak much English back then, but we just felt this indescribable connection between us," she says. "And it just happened..."
They stayed in touch through emails until she came over to the US in August of that year. They married the following April, in Lenox.
Intuition and a spiritual life are important to her, 36-year old Viktória Seavey says. As part of her coaching practice she teaches intuitive painting classes. Some of her own meditative paintings hang on the wall in her study at her Otis home.
One thing she misses from back home is the proximity to the very different cultures in the various European countries close to each other, she says. But that's compensated for, she says, by the work she does with immigrants through BCC.
"I like living in the Berkshires," she says. "When I was a little girl I had this dream of living in the forest.
"Well, guess what..?"
Tolland State Forest edges right up to the Seavey's home.
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