Katarína Huszárová: Learn How to Cooperate
PERSPECTIVES talked to Katarína Huszárová, a student in English and French at our faculty and a member of the Student Council of the Academic Senate of the Faculty of Arts, who was recently offered a great job opportunity as assistant of production for the International French-language Film Festival in Bratislava. We asked her for some advice on how a student can sneak into the “adult” working world and whether students have a chance to change anything about our faculty.
Perspectives (PP): Assistant of production sounds like a serious job. How did you get this opportunity to work for the FIFFBA?
Katarína Huszárová (KH): In the first year of my university studies, I became a member of an association for students of French called Pont Francophone. One of its activities was a long-term cooperation with FIFFBA. The member students were encouraged to volunteer, so I tried that and found it really great. I was very keen on helping out and was really active and worked more than I was expected to. The organisers noticed it and invited me to help again. By the following year I had become the head of the volunteer team. Eventually, this year, Eva Porubanová, the festival director, asked me to work as assistant of production. It was a great opportunity, so I couldn’t refuse.
PP: What did the position involve and what responsibilities did you have?
KH: In a film festival, production means communicating with partners from previous years as well as finding new sponsors, arranging a suitable venue for the festival, negotiating with cinemas and other, more or less organizational, tasks. I also took care of foreign guests invited to attend the festival.
PP: Did you meet any interesting people among the attending guests?
KH: This year, notable guests included directors Siegfried and Yasmina Adi from France and Belgian actress Jeanne Dandoy. Meeting each one of them was very special in its own way. The most impressive for me was Siegfried who lives in Paris as a squatter (a person who occupies a building without permission). Sometimes he even sleeps on the street. In the past, he went to Kazakhstan to live with a friend of his for some time and this friend’s neighbour had ten children. He observed them and based on that he created a movie, Kids Stories. We booked a very expensive room in a hotel for Siegfried, but he preferred sleeping in a club in the city center, lying on a boxboard with a beer in his hand. I have to say that he was really amazing. He made me realize that my everyday problems are unimportant and that we should really live and enjoy our lives.
PP: Did your studies come in useful for your work?
KH: (hesitating) Well, I would say yes. It’s true that many subjects we are studying at the university are boring and seem useless, but some knowledge I gained during my university studies turned out to be very helpful, especially that concerning culture and language. Last year, for example, I signed up for an elective course entitled Film History, thanks to which I discovered many new movies, directors and actors. This is the kind of information that may be useful when you are working for a movie festival. At the FIFFBA, I was using English a lot and since I was the only person in the office who could speak French, I would send emails in French, translate subtitles and communicate with French-speaking guests.
PP: It is not very common in Slovakia for students to get a real job opportunity while still at university. What advice would you give to those who would like to start working before graduating?
KH: The most important thing is not to wait for somebody to turn up out of the blue and offer you a job. Don’t expect that somebody will come and say: “Would you like to work as a translator for us?” There are many clever and ambitious people in Slovakia who are go-getters. You have to ask and be curious. For example, this year at the festival, there were many young students who were eager to help so we gave them the opportunity to translate subtitles or to take care of the guests. But it was them who came and asked.
PP: You are the member of the Student Council of our faculty’s Academic Senate. Do you think that students at our faculty really have a chance to change something?
KH: Students very often don’t know about the senate’s competences. It is true that these competences are limited, but things definitely can be changed. The problem is that we only represent students, while there is a separate council representing teachers. To be honest, many of them are unwilling to make changes, so sometimes it feels like students are tilting at windmills. Students can change some things, but they should not expect too much, unfortunately.
PP: How could we help our faculty to become a community of young people willing to meet, share opinions and lend their hands to support good causes not only at school but also outside?
KH: I think that our students’ problem is passivity. Fortunately, there are some active people who care about creating a community and there have been successful attempts at our faculty such as Pont Francophone (at the French department), Ola Espaňola (at the Spanish department) and, of course, our own Perspectives. Students live actively, try to help each other and create something together. It is very important to learn how to cooperate not only now, while we are still at university, but also in our future lives.
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