Valerie, her father, and her sister- a year before they fled Hungary.

For this episode, I had the pleasure of talking to the mom of one of my good friends from high school.

As a teenager, I remember hearing bits and pieces this story. So, it was truly an honor to finally sit down and hear it first hand, at length.  Albeit, from opposite sides of the Atlantic, and with a bit of shaky technology- but in the end, a joy to hear.

Meet Valerie, a Hungarian refugee who came to America at nine years old, and who still vividly remembers her early life in communist Budapest.

Valerie’s father was stoutly anti-Communist and worked hard to get his family out of the country at the earliest opportunity.  However, due to family illness, he sadly had to stay behind and find another means of escape a month after letting his family go.

Valerie reflects on their journey across the border and still gets emotional remembering how a stranger, simply out of the kindness of his heart, helped carry her, and others, across a stream and through barbed wire fence to help cross her and her family into Austria.



Newspaper clipping. Valerie and her family visiting with their American sponsor family in Washington D.C.


Valerie says she has encountered so much kindness in her life that she hopes one day to pay it forward, beyond the small, everyday gestures she’s imparted.  Life has had a way of opening doors and creating opportunity for her, and now she is waiting for that next door that will show her how best to repay all the kindness that the world has shown her.

Valerie’s second Christmas in America.


Valerie and her husband Jim in Hungary.

This episode features music by Ketsa (copyright) using a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License

All photos from Valerie.