The 2018 Columbia Alumni Meeting in My Perspective.

“One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.”

– Bryant H. McGill


I believe that the quote above essentially tells the most important lesson that I learned in back in May. My name is Viktor Weisz and you may remember me from the last COLAM in Bad Ragaz, Switzerland. Tall, perhaps appearing to be a little lost, but definitely filled with great excitement to be able to spend time among inspiring people who got prosperous on the path they chose to walk upon through their true devotion and passion. I figured that the best way to assess this immense experience is to simply write down the values and insights that I gathered over that short, but fulfilling weekend.

Generosity has to be one of these lessons. Having been able to visit the Agricultural College of Plantahof in Landquart, I saw how much selfless benevolence can be put into the establishment of something in the name of education. I was astonished by how modern and sustainable the aforementioned institution is, from the revolutionary farming techniques to the general humane way the domestic animals are being kept, not even mentioning that it is intended to be absolutely free for everyone who wants to study there in Graubünden. It is indeed a remarkable contribution to the canton as well as to the entirety of Switzerland. I found it exceptionally attentive that even though the guided tour itself was in German, Jean-Louis came to my aid and translated all of it to English, so that I would not miss out on wonders Plantahof has to offer.

Critical-thinking is also one of the first things that come to mind when I think back to the time we spent together up in the Swiss Alps and the sublime conversations I had with Ralph and Heike in Davos about the current situation in my home country, Hungary. After listening to a comprehensive presentation on global warming done by the local Alpine meteorological facility, we discussed possible resolutions to the rise of such populist leaders that do not put adequate emphasis on climate change. We exchanged views on the ways technology may be able to help and debated how education plays a role in finding a solution to these problems. We finally reflected all of the above onto Budapest and what I can do to make a difference. A few months afterwards, I had the opportunity to speak up in the Hungarian Parliament regarding certain changes in our school system where I presented the ideas the Arnold family helped me come up with in front of the national council for education.

Caring for people with as much love as Hans-Ulrich does is nothing less than inspirational. I felt he wanted to introduce his nation to his guests in the way the way he loves it himself and I have to admit that he was quite successful in achieving that. As visitors in the astonishing country he is so proud of, we have got a taste of everything I could imagine. We had the chance to converse with some of the most prominent individuals working in innovation and high-technology, see a breathtaking natural landmark, the Tamina Gorge, cross the mountains in a beautiful, historic train while enjoying the view with a bit of a warm breakfast and go all the way up to Thomas Mann’s Schatzalp. After partaking in all of these extraordinary activities, who would not want to love Switzerland?

Optimism filled the air at the farewell dinner at the Grand Hôtel Quellenhof, as I was talking to Christina, Felicitas and Wolfgang. We discussed, among other things, deep philosophical questions of Tolstoy, what is happening behind the scenes in the pharmaceutical business and college life. I remember, at that point in time, listening to the live vocal performance of a wonderful group of musicians, having a delicious meal fit for such a prestigious hotel, I was doubtful if I should go to college next year or do a gap year and try with a potentially better alternative. As I told these concerns of mine to my company at the table, they provided me with counsel and a whole new perspective on my situation, essentially encouraging me to take the opportunity and start my university studies as soon as I can. As I am writing this in London, I must remark that it was probably one of the best decisions of my life to do as they advised and take the offer.

Kindness has always been something I thought of as the purest, most vital form of affection and the most valuable attribute a person can possess. When it comes to this sort of compassion, even though everyone that I was fortunate enough to meet during that unbelievable weekend was outstandingly amiable, I must devote this last paragraph to the Schaefer family. Without the altruistic support of Gudrun, Hans, Sophie, and Oliver, I would not have been able to learn about all of those positive human imputes that inspired me so much. They showed me something I would otherwise not have seen, the way out of the mess of hardships.

I am looking forward to participating in the next occasion as the members of the COLAM definitely left a huge piece of intellect in me that I will use to further develop on my personality, but for now, all I can do is hope for that I left a little piece of myself in you as well.