Xpat Interview: Ildikó Tóth, Volunteer Coordinator Of Budapest Bike Maffia

  • 12 Jun 2019 12:38 PM
Xpat Interview: Ildikó Tóth, Volunteer Coordinator Of Budapest Bike Maffia
I am a 34 year old graduate in German and Russian languages. In 2010 I joined the ‘Youth in Action’ program as a European Voluntary Service (EVS) coordinator and mentor within an organisation in Pécs until 2016.

During this time I planned and instigated several successful EVS projects, liaising with more than 150 volunteers in both short and long-term projects. One of my highlights was the experience in 2011 as a mentor in Tanzania alongside five Hungarian volunteers as part of one particular EVS project.

In 2016, I returned to Budapest and during my free time I am a regular volunteer with all aspects of activities involving the well known ‘Budapest Bike Maffia’ (BBM). An EVS project I prepared for BBM was approved by the Hungarian National Agency that cumulated in a nine month Erasmus+ project with volunteers from Germany, Croatia and Finland.

The European Union selected this project in March this year for a pilot project in Europe, so I had the possibility in April this year to take part in the European Youth Week in Brussels and to speak about my project (Intercultural biking for helping) in the European Parliament.

I am a member of the British International School Budapest (BISB) staff, whose students and teachers have also developed strong ties with BBM thanks to my passion and their commitment to service learning.

Sharing my experiences with either the youngest or the oldest students, in their design of fund-raising activities for BBM or their support of homeless awareness, offers me an even greater platform of possibilities associated to youth work and international volunteering.

I believe in the youth, in the youth work, in the huge possibilities of the international voluntary services. It is always a great pleasure for me to be in an international environment, where I have the possibility to share everything, I believe in and work for.

1. Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Hungary - in Pilisvörösvár. This is a town close to Budapest. But my childhood was influenced also from a lot of travels to West-Germany with the orchestra and with the dance group, and I also spent the summers in a beautiful small village called Nagykörű. This is the village, where my father is coming from.

2. If you could be an expat anywhere in the world, where would you choose?
As I had the possibility to travel a lot in the last 15 years, I saw a lot of countries - mostly in Europe, but I was also in Tanzania for one month. If I could, I would choose Cyprus. The island I visited already 4 times - not only holiday, also for work. This is a really multicultural country with a lot of traditions, good food, nice people and the history of the country is very interesting as well.

3. What would you miss most if you moved away from Hungary?
The traditional Hungarian cultural events.

4. Friends are in Budapest for a weekend - what must they absolutely see and do?
They should rent a bike and start with Hősök tere, Vajdahunyad vára. After they can ride at Andrássy út to the area of the Parlament. After they should take the Lánchíd and go to the Buda side to visit Budai vár and Gellért hegy.

After they should stay in Buda, and visit the 3. district as well. Kolosy tér - and finally go for a piknik to Hármashatár hegy. This would be my suggestion for a nice weekend in Budapest. :)

5. What is your favourite food?
The food, that I can eat everywhere and every time is sea food. I love everything, what is coming from the sea.  :) 

6. What is your favourite sport / form of exercise?
I do love cycling and climbing. I am always on the move.

7. What is your favourite place in Hungary?
Pécs - and the region near to Pécs (Orfű, Abaliget, Óbánya..the Mecsek hill) I spent there 13 years, this area is like a home for me.

8. What career other than yours would you love to pursue?
I would be an English teacher in a very poor country and also a stewardess. I would say, I would do it by turns. Half year English teacher, half year stewardess. However I am very happy and lucky with my job in The British International School and with my voluntary work in Budapest Bike Maffia.

9. What’s a job you would definitely never want?

10. Where did you spend your last vacation?
2 days in Izmir, in Turkey. It was after an international seminar about intercultural education.

11. Where do you hope to spend your next one?
I will go to the lake Balaton, to do a bike tour.

12. What was your favourite band, film, or hobby as a teen?
Kelly Family (don't laugh). Film: La Boum with Sophie Marceau. Hobby: I play flute, since I am 7, and I couldn't stop with music.

13. Apart of temptation what can’t you resist?
I am a passionate traveller. I use always my free days/weeks and the possibilities regarding my job to travel, to get to know other cultures, other countries, other people. I like to learn about different cultures, traditions.  

14. Red wine or white?
Definitely dry red wine. :) 

15. Book or movie?
Movie. Reading a book makes me nowadays very quick sleepy - my brain can work more, if there are visual effects as well.

16. Morning person or night person?
I like to sleep long in the morning in the weekends and I also like to go early to the bed in the evening in the weekdays. :) :) But if I could choose, I would say night person. After all the experiences of the day, my brain is more effective in the evening.  

17. Which social issue do you feel most strongly about?
As I am an active Budapest Bike Maffia volunteer, the homelessness is the closest social issue for me. 

18. Buda or Pest side?
Definitely Buda. :) I am working in The British International School in Buda, and I live also in the 3 district. You have from here the view to Pest. :) 

19. Which achievement in your life are you most pleased about?
That I can motivate young people to be in action, to be flexible, to be creative and open-minded. And all of these because of my life experience. That I could achieve my goals with my own energy and patience.

20. What would you say is your personal motto?
This is originally a quote from a Hungarian song.

"Indulj új csodákat látni! A Föld még most is nagy nekünk. Ne hidd, hogy mindent ismerünk!"  - it means: "Let's start a journey, to look for new wonders. The world is still big for us. Don't think, we know everything!"

  • How does this interview make you feel?