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Bridging the Gap Between Intellectual Excellence and Civic Initiatives

Event: Pilisi Forest Nature Hike

 [ path ] Several CEU departments and a total of approximately twenty students were represented on Saturday, November 7th's nature hike to the Pilisi Forest, about 45 minutes outside of Budapest. The main coordinators of the event were student members of the CEU Environmental NGO Kinga Orlikowska, Mihail Samnaliev, and Natalija Vrhunc Elersek. Nature lovers, members of NGOs and friends came along for a day of hiking, rock climbing, and environmental education games. Both the hike and the games were designed to get people out of the city to experience nature first-hand. "The purpose of the event, says Kinga an Environmental Sciences and Policy Masters candidate, "was to feel closer to the nature, to understand it not only with our intellect, but with our senses as well."

On the half-hour walk to the base of the hill, rich vegetation was evident, from the multitude of wild berries and native plants to the oak trees and non-native black pines. Our chosen hiking location may have been particularly diverse as it was not far from the Visegrad hills, an international biosphere reserve whose flora and fauna is strictly protected. At the base of a particularly steep looking rock formation, the group left the tree-covered trails and began the 700 meter ascent.

At the top, Iveta Teibe, an Environmental Sciences Masters candidate and environmental educator from Estonia, lead the group in some light-hearted environmental education activities. Most of the activities, including sketching the sounds of nature, and forming a "snake chain" in which participants' eyes are closed, encouraged everyone to observe closely the sounds and smells of nature. "These activities should help us to relieve some stress and come a little closer to nature and one another," said Natailjia Vrhunc Elersek. "We are hoping, as well, that everyone will take some activities back to their home countries to introduce the next generations of environmentalists to nature."

 [ view ] "The outing was just what I needed. To get back into the nature and remember why we work so hard to protect it. It was really a great day," said Marina Chichua, Environmental Sciences Masters candidate fom Georgia, "Thanks to all of my colleagues who made it happen."

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