Dace Purena (Latvia) Lively Spirit and catching Existentialism. Talks wich founder and director of HEPI Rimas Kočiūnas
Rimas Kočiūnas – the founder and director of HEPI, a person about whom so much can be said, and it would still be too little.
‘…The institute was largely my idea… In the beginning, we intended to start an institute of transpersonal psychology… there was interest in explorations of consciousness. This perspective in psychology was very new. Though my main and real interest was existential therapy and psychology. So we decided, if we were to start an institute, it had to be an institute for existential therapy. Well, it may sound as an anecdote: while still a second-year student of psychology, I made a bet with a fellow student who of us two would found an institute first. And I was the winner… Indeed, for a long time I felt a need to have a training institution. For many years before the institute, I used to give quite a number of seminars. I travelled a lot to Russia and other places. In fact, I had quite some practical experience in existential therapy, all of it did not come out of nowhere.
I saw myself not so much as a teacher or trainer, rather a therapist. Maybe even more as a group therapist. Organizing seminars appeared interesting. In fact, prior to starting this programme it was necessary first to read a lot and then tell others about it many times. Somehow we did not care too much to document the founding of the Institute precisely. As a result, you might hear three different versions of the process. It all happened in 1995. By the way, at the time me and Aleksandras (Kučinskas) used to give seminars in Birštonas annually under the title “Life and Psychotherapy”. Many people attended, and this also served as a hint of a location where the institute might be in place. Along with the work at all those seminars I was already attempting to draft some framework of the programme. So the structure that emerged then was the result of continuous work… By the way, now, comparing that programme with the present one, I see that they are very different programmes, but the core remains.
…The environment meant a lot for the institute then. Today, it can also mean a lot, but, back then, it was essential and part of the entire process! Because it was also something very existential and very supportive.
Those years, in fact, were not the best years in my life. In a way, they felt as somewhat meaningless. In that kind of a vacuum, the institute was such a significant event. It was a joy of creating something that came to life and continued to live. Now, there is less joy and much more of the weight of responsibility… Back then, at the beginning, it was rather amazing and rewarding that people would follow us, and now it seems we have to follow people. Back then we disseminated information, talked and explained, invited people, while now it seems we have to follow the needs or wishes of our students. I cannot claim it is all too easy… Well, I do not teach many courses any more that I used to teach earlier. Still, our programmes include so many different seminars, this activity has become so diverse and overwhelming, that there are things to do on all fronts, and it takes a lot. But it continues to be so full of meaning. Otherwise the whole thing would be a burden, which it is not. I know what I have and can do and, maybe, I will have something to do till the end of my days – to foster things that came to be, that were created. And this is very important. I am well aware that not everyone with a diploma in psychology manages to fulfil everything one may want in the profession. So it is a meaningful achievement, but also a hard labour.
At the very beginning, it was somewhat different from today: the students were not so much students, more like partners in a common undertaking. Such partnership, I suppose, was built on us offering something and someone believing in it. We were very close with the students, but it did not seem to interfere with the work. We spent much of our spare time together and had much fun. Equality prevailed, there was no special distance, lots of things were done together. As a result, the framework of the programme was certainly conceived by us, ‘founding fathers’, but our students from the first groups, in a sense, also contributed significantly. There was no academe, no divide between the students and the teachers. We worked together… Now, after all these years, the distance is definitely much more perceptible, and our authority is much greater than it used to be. I would not call it a partnership, but my feeling is that, probably, it is still alive, this attitude of ours towards the students and of the students towards us.
In fact, in 1996, when the programme began, I knew Birštonas very little, and I was a person who used to visit it coming from Vilnius. As a result, I explored Birshtonas at the same time as others. The place seemed to me very advantageous indeed. But it has also changed during these twenty years. I even miss a little that old Birštonas, with its uneven sidewalks and so beautiful streets. There was something very special around.
‘The spirit of Birshtonas or of HEPI’… That might be a long talk… I think that, in a nutshell, it means a continuous dialogue, irrespective of whether students have just been enrolled or are studying at the professional or supervisors’ level. I would say it is a constant dialogue. It means equality, sort of mutuality in relations to each other. This very dialogical character, I think, is very characteristic. … Those whom I invited to teach were, largely, people whom I knew and still know, many of them our graduates. Naturally, they also feel quite comfortable being on par with students.
The life of the institute did change, of course, during these years. We moved from a very modest location to a better one, then to another, again better. But the most noticeable change seems to be related to books, i.e. the number of books in our library. And there are, certainly, things that do not change, e.g. the fact that the door of the teachers’ room is never locked. Well, all enjoy it, though some people (especially students from Russia) are mortified by disbelief that the office of the teaching staff, the library, can be always accessible. This is also an element of the environment meaning trust and a kind of openness.
…Upon reflection some conflicts do come to mind, but, thanks God, there were so very few of them. Maybe because of that they are stuck in memory, a trace that lingers, probably related to some difficulty or sadness, or discontent. But such episodes are vastly outnumbered by happy moments, so diverse and so natural – they appear inseparable in the context of our life. A large bag of various joys. … Every group completing studies is a joy. Every time, unique and specific.
Professionally, I learned a lot in the course of these twenty years. To give lectures, to teach I had to get through immense material myself. And I hate teaching the same, I feel necessity to do it differently every time. It is a continuous labour: searching, reading, studying the latest… As a result, I also keep learning.
…We have many teachers and trainers now, over 30. From time to time I try to envision what would happen not in twenty years, but just in ten years’ time. Who could take on it all, who could continue it, how can it be done differently? Occasionally, I mention my reflections to someone. Other people taking over will inevitably bring in something of their own. I believe it is good, evolution is unavoidable. …
What is the ‘cornerstone’ of the institute? Surely, there are many: the sole foundation of our institute are people, crowds of them, who consider themselves and really are patriots of the institute. First and foremost, those who come, work and help students with dedication to give and share. I keep telling students that the institute would not exist without them. This is precisely its base: this invitation for a dialogue, and continuing collaboration.
…Yes, I want to believe that the institute will stay when we are gone. So many people already involved, it needs to be continued. There are about 420 people who have completed the Basic Level and some 180 people who have graduated with the Professional Diploma. A large company! In a sense, we have spread existential therapy over a giant space that surrounds us. Amazing!
Dace Purena (Latvia) Seen in Actions. Talks wich founder of HEPI Ljaonas Judjaljavichjus
Everyone knows Ljaonas from the selection group. He is one of the three founders, who have the power to decide if one is going to be a student at HEPI or not. He disappears after making the destinies, as if putting on an invisibility hat. Occasionally, Ljaonas emerges again, but he definitely comes to the graduation ball. He is slightly embarrassed, quiet, blessed with a good sense of humour and exquisite taste – and, in fact, he is always with the institute. You will learn about his participation ‘behind the scenes’ from our conversation.
‘… I have had an inclination to psychotherapy and clinical work for a long time. It all began with our interest group when we were all students, and Kuchinskas and Kochiunas used to come, there were talks about something new, something livelier. Later, after some ten or twenty years, when the first seeds sprouted, I joined them. It was probably in 1988.
…Kochiunas is older than me. The difference is not small – four years. It makes for a lot in student years. We became acquainted a little closer when we were following courses at the Bekhterev Institute in St. Petersburg – it was called Leningrad back then. Later, after several years, I heard about something like a permanently working seminar in existential psychology and just came in: I want it, too! There were Kochiunas, Kuchinskas, many other experienced people. …This way, I began to go there, we read books there, made presentations, did some practical experiments. … It was about 1990. I also doubled as a psychologist, but most of my energies went elsewhere. I remember meeting Kochiunas one day, and he said: ‘Listen, let’s establish an association!’. It was the very beginning, the ‘90s. We established an association in 1990. … The Association of Humanist Psychology – it was the first such association of psychology in Lithuania. It was active and lively and had many members. It was very democratic.
… I was already heading into business. But our paths were crossing with Kochiunas all the time, there were some common points of contact. I found it interesting, but I was doing my own thing. …In terms of psychology, I intended to go to the academe, but it never happened. … And about that time, when the activity of our Association was already stable, Kochiunas said: ‘Listen, let’s make an Institute! We should begin teaching psychologists. No one does it. We should do it’.
…I was doing the paperwork. Kochiunas was not interested, and it caused too much stress. But I was kind of experienced, already. …Quickly, during a few meetings, we discussed the programme, what we would do and how. Of course, Rimas had it ripe, the programme and everything that went with it, so it emerged quickly. I just remained the organiser. For myself, I explained it as the means of staying with psychology while doing something different in life. Of course, earlier I had ideas about teaching more, doing something else, too, but, in life, it was the other way around. I worked with dreams, did a bit something else, too, taught some theories. But I became unpredictable in terms of timing. It was related to the flights – in the meantime, I also became a pilot. Soon, our schedule became such that we were working and new the approximate timetable for eighteen months in advance. So, when I began to fly, I became just an ordinary employee. I had to go where I was told. And if I need to find a space of time, it has to be arranged in advance.
…When I was working in business, I was relatively free. I was my own boss. You would think I could have been thinking psychology, too, but it was hard – my thoughts were elsewhere all the time. I was organising long-term groups on dreams, but I always felt that I should either do it in depth or that I will remain an amateur in it. Teaching was for me, on the one hand, something I liked, including teaching about dreams. But it was an enormous expenditure of energy and nerves. I was afraid every time before the beginning of a course. I was very afraid. Later, when I was finishing a course, I thought – it went well on the whole, I should do more of it.
…For me, the Institute is an opportunity to be where life did not offer me good opportunities to be fulfilled. … The Institute and everything that goes with it are a really good thing. Judging but what we achieve and how it develops over twenty years, HEPI became a real thing that is important for many people. It is good to think of it. I can feel than that it was not all in vain. That is why I can do the unglamorous work. By tackling accountancy and everything related to the existence of the organisation. The essence of the Institute is what Rimas is doing. My share is to put as little load of administrative duties on him as possible. In all, it is my way of being in the Institute.
…About relations with students. I envy them for having this opportunity. When I was their age, I did not have it. …I usually see them at the selection and somewhere in between sometimes. When I was teaching, I also saw them during the course. … They come to the selection, they are all scared and, of course, they try to state their readiness and desire to work, their love for existential therapy. On the whole, they do everything to show they are the best of the twenty people gathered there. Sometimes it is comic, but sometimes it is completely hopeless. It is evident that the people are striving, but they do not know how to do it. They are afraid of themselves and of everything: they, naturally fear us. Because we, strict, are sitting there and watching how it is all going. We meaning myself, Budris, Kochiunas. And later, let’s say after half a year, already at the last meeting and when we discuss the entire work we see how it all changed. Some people are unrecognisable. …It is very pleasant. It feels good! I also contributed to it at some point. So it was not in vain!
…The spirit of HEPI? Was is it about? It is hard for me to compare. I cannot imagine how it is elsewhere, But I remember that we were thinking from the very beginning how we will arrange it all and how we will organise the selection process. There were people coming to our first group with whom we already had contacts, they were invited. But there was also a selection. And selection is always a complicated, unpleasant, rough process. It is also uncertain. It is vital for a therapist to be able to live in uncertainty. Us, the terrible three, also had (and still have!) to live in this uncertainty.
…A peculiar spirit – if it really exists – comes from the essence of existential therapy as Kochiunas understands it. And we follow him, so to say. To put it into words, it is authentic presence and openness. … Being as it is, without any exaggerated friendship or anything artificial. There is no artificial distance, there is no some very sweet friendship. We are like travellers on a common way. … And our programmes as there are now are to a large extent indebted to the opinions of our students over these twenty years. I think it is a great power of what is at the Institute. Maybe it adds something to the spirit. …I think the spirit comes from the huge practical work that is conducted here. Because, in one way or another, existential unity, not the one based on methods or some artificial means of being with each other. … On the other hand, again, it is the place. From the very beginning when we were thinking where to do it all, we chose Birshtonas.
… The place itself – it is beautiful, but of course the principle of immersion itself is important. Birshtonas is meant to thrust people from their habitual way of life, so that they could live somehow immersed in these ideas. So, we never have televisions. … And let us think that here we have a chestnut from Birshtonas. It reminds that there can also be a dimension, a space, where something can be different. And there is also another space, too. And, there, you cannot be too open. You cannot communicate with people at the workplace the same way as in the group. It is clear. But the chestnut in the pocket can… (he laughs).
…There are many joys. Coming here is, on the whole, always joyful. It is meeting with colleagues and friends. To put it this way, it is something I do not have in other spheres where I have to evolve. Yes, it is the very presence – it is always joyous. What is more, we are relatively well accommodated already. We have kind of our own territory. But it was also good when we did not have our own place. Because, on the whole, as someone said, the Institute is more than the walls, it is a ball of connections, of everything associated with Birshtonas – this is the Institute. It is always a joy for me to come here and settle something. … Of course, there were troubles. But they were not related to Birshtonas, they were rather related to the administration and bureaucracy I tackle.
…About the financial situation. The idea was that the people who are teaching should be glad to do it. So their remuneration should be adequate. And we keep to it. On the one hand, we understand that we cannot actually charge any enormous amounts for education – we look to what people here can pay. …But the Institute should have a good basis to function normally, to buy the furniture, to have decent Internet, to add to the library. So far, we are managing to do it.
…What else is to be done? The first thing that comes to mind is that we should publish more books. Our latest book ‘Conversations about Psychology’ was issued in 2011. We have not issued anything in five years, and it is a considerable drawback in our work. The Institute must publish. The Institute. I even know what books and can give you a list. Three or four titles off my mind. It is a pity I cannot write myself. …For me, to publish a book is something considerable and important. We should publish more in our own sphere of existential psychology. This way, we will be more famous. On the other hand, it can also bring certain financial profit. It will certainly add to our reputation. It is the first thing that comes to my mind about what the Institute should do. And I am working on it. Every time I see Rimas in more calm circumstances I remind him of it.
…Of course, I think it is important that the conditioning is working and we could drink coffee without having to rush out and that we had decent furniture. I am very house proud (he laughs).
Dace Purena (Latvia) A Soul-to-soul dinner with a Shaman. Talks wich founder of HEPI Rimvidas Budris
If the HEPI has its own shaman, it must Rimvidas Budris – one of the three founders of the Institute. Students know him not only from his group on mythological experience, but also from the intimate dinners which he organises and cooks himself.
‘…The process of creating the Institute was large and prolonged. Already two or three years before the Institute, when the Association of Humanist Psychology was already established, approximately in ’94-’95, we began to think that we should do more than just organising seminars. …Several people put their heads together there – Rimas Kochiunas, me, then Antanas Danieljus, Ljanas Judjaljavichjus. … First we thought to make an institute of transpersonal psychology together with the Americans, and we negotiated with them. … But when we began to calculate how much it would cost, it became unfeasible. ….Then, we had a different idea that to create something using our own means, because there are people who can teach. The emphasis changed – what is more important? Transpersonal psychology is something more interesting for the Americans, while our interest was directed towards existential psychology and therapy. Moreover, we had had a group already, called… ‘Existential Psychology Group’. It had been in existence for two or three years before the establishment of the Association of Humanist Psychology.
… Dinners at the HEPI. Whose idea was it that they are important? … It came, so to say, as a surprise for the group. Once, when it was still our first group, we were talking about making some kind of surprise. What could we do quickly? Barbecue, if I am not mistaken. The first time we made a surprise. Everybody liked it. And then we continued. I was more or less good at cooking and was free. First, we organised it only from time to time, not regularly. … We lived at a rowing club back then, and afterwards we moved to the hotel of the Catholic priest, where we already had a kitchen and more opportunities for cooking something. … The main thing was that people not only liked but that it also provided a great opportunity for switching codes and relaxing after the hard fortnight. … Later we also began to organise it for short seminars, when other programmes appeared.
…It comes from ancient traditions. Always, when something important comes to an end, peoples traditionally had dinners, balls or at least parties. It makes people come closer. …There is also a small amount of wine. An evening like this makes you soar inwardly. Frequently, people begin to sing. They had been studying all the time, maybe meeting in the evenings to do something as well, but even singing songs. Here, when songs began, it showed that a common process for meeting in a different manner was under way. …Or, sometimes, someone begins to play the guitar. …It may be a solo performance, with somebody singing along. Sometimes, there are even dances. It is also indicative, when we have dancing. There is movement, a meeting. …There are often balls somewhere (a birthday, a New Year), which sometimes may be intimate, but often are boring. Everybody sit like mummies. Here, it goes away, and so does our status, albeit we are teachers. Students also find it easier after these evenings. Although we keep within certain limits, to avoid excess (he laughs)!… But for us, to be seen in a different way, we meet students somewhat differently, too – it is very important.
…An image or symbol that comes with the HEPI? Hmmm, it is not simple. Besides, the Institute has gone through several stages already. Naturally, there was, as Rimas Kochiunas calls it, the Romantic Age (about the first five to seven years), then the Business Age, probably. The third stage is probably approaching now. As we have moved from the hotel to this new place, I feel the dawning of a new stage, but it still hard to define it.
…And if remember the image as it may be – the Institute still does not have an icon, a logo. A logo usually reflects something. … We are already twenty years old, but we do not have a logo. Somehow, I think of a tree… It has roots, it grows. It has many branches. Naturally, it is a Lithuanian tree. It is not some kind of baobab or cypress tree. … I would like it to be an oak tree. An oak tree has such firmness and longevity. It lives for ages. An oak tree has gravitas, and it seems that our Institute has it, too.
…Well, twenty years can be considered a long lifetime for an institute. It is too little for an oak, of course. There are few organisations in the field of psychotherapy and psychology dealing with education. And we already have people subscribing for the thirty-fifth group on existential psychology. In fact, I do not know of a similar situation even in other countries. There, education is organised differently. So thirty-five groups in twenty years… We had eleven professional programmes, and I cannot imagine exactly how many supervisor programmes we had –it was four or five. There are also other programmes: group therapy, crisis therapy, etc. Also other educational institute and organisations usually organise only one programme, and we have several of them.
…I would like to look at the image of an oak: existential therapy is the stem, the basis. There are branches: one branch is group therapy, another, new branch is the crisis programme, maybe we will have some other programme, too. …Today, we talked about the lack of programmes for working with children and teenagers. Maybe, if there are people… It is a hard idea, but, I principle, it is a very important one, if we speak about the modern world. There is considerable demand for it. And there is no teaching programme, except for the university, which offers one or two courses. These are, on the whole, different future possibilities.
… There are no particular difficulties I could notice at the Institute. On the contrary, the Institute gives me much freedom. There is an opportunity to be here, and, simultaneously, it leaves me with a lot of free time. …The main problems at the Institute are not down my lane. There was some stage, which proved hard to pass – a few of these. Maybe these were not stages, just periods. …At first, there were quite a few people who entered and studied, who already had considerable experience, and they saw education in their won way. There was much of what we could call resistance. We struggled through it together, and we won. It is not that there are no experienced people coming, but there are much fewer of them. Nowadays, there are younger people, and some others. … Sometimes, people from other professions came: they were not psychologist, psychotherapists or doctors, but businessmen and coaching specialists. They realised the importance of their advance and found it hard to appreciate the context here. Most often, there were difficulties with them. …Some abandoned their studies, or entered in conflictual situations. But they had more conflicts not with me, rather with the teachers and with Rimas. They are doing something in their own domain and trying to bring it in, but we are not going to do business coaching here. Maybe, we could do it in future? (he laughs). There was a process. … Well, there could be more personal issues, confusions in interpersonal relations between the students. When people are studying together, they grow closer, and they may fall in love or feel great affection, and some people have families. Different things can happen. …Also, our landlord, the Catholic priests, also had one thing or another. He was the owner of the house and was trying to create his own rules, even though we already have established the rules – he was always trying to move around these. We had problems.
…I feel joy when I teach the group within the existential therapy programme. …My ‘Group of Mythological Experience’. It is and will stay this way. The topics change, and, during the last years, I can even do it without set topics. We work with the things that emerge. And here, at the Institute, if I take my own part, I can say that there is a contact of the mythological image of the world perception and the real life, which is existential, revealing the connection between them. Without the Institute, this connection hardly would have been revealed. It expands, deepens, something new is revealed every time. It is a joy. And, naturally, the dinners are a joy, and the meetings are a joy.
…Some students, who have completed the studies, became not only colleagues but also friends. Such a joy! We meet and talk from time to time. We even do something together with some of them – it is also a joy.
…Always, when you are ready for something, new opportunities emerge. There are opportunities to open up new stages, new programmes or substantially review the existing programmes. I do not see much direct connection, but there was readiness for new programmes or for intensiveness of time. It happens now, too: one programme is ongoing, a seminar is about to be completed, and, in a day or two, there is already a new group. We need a separate Institute with its own building. It would have created problems if we had continued at the hotel.
… In the past, there was a resort studies laboratory in Birshtonas. It existed before our arrival back in the seventies or eighties. When we came, the laboratory was already closed. Birshtonas was always a kind of centre, with science and conference going on. Now, the Institute is this centre. On the whole, if we look at it from a somewhat mystical perspective, we took the baton from the resort studies laboratory. It disappeared, was gone, and we came to the same place, bringing a kind of culture to the town.
…If I had been young and had to choose an Institute, I would have loved to study at the HEPI. … What would have attracted me most? The opportunity to study in a free atmosphere. It gives very much freedom.’
Dace Purena (Latvia) Out of Schedule – Grandma’s group. Talks wich Grandma’s HEPI Danute Shetkiene
When I was asking for how many years Danute Shetkiene has been working in the HEPI, it turned out that no one remembers. Approximately for half of the Institute’s existence. But it feels like she has always worked there. Dana, in her position of the house manager holds a special HEPI diploma and spends more time with each group than most of the teachers. Indeed, the ‘group’ she organises is the true wise school of life and co-existence with each other, and it changes the lives of the people.
‘…I know nearly all the groups that studied here. Sometimes, I forget the names, but later, when I remember one of the students, I can see the whole group in my mind. Of course, not everyone, but it is the age… I am sixty-six. Twenty-six over forty is a lot (she laughs).
…I think people show themselves to me. I look how they behave from the very first day and the first hour when they come to study, to the selection group. They come, and it is already obvious, who is not going to study. …This time, one lady came from Moscow and asked me where she could ride a horse. She came to study, she should have been asking about something else: how are the studies here, how many people are accepted and how many are not accepted… But she asks about the horse, about horse-riding! She is more interested in it! So she went back home (laughs). …It is obvious who is interested only in having a good time, for whom psychology is like an entertainment, but, here, they have to study.
…Did it ever happen in all these years that I liked one group in particular? Some students from the groups. It happened. But every group also has ‘touchy’ family members, with whom it is hard to find the common ground. You know, they have a temper, a way of their own. We cannot make everyone to be the way we like. But, if we take the whole group, probably no. If half of the group is young, and the other half is mature students, the group is very lively. The young do not want to stay in one place. It nearly always happens this way. And, when there are a few young people and a few older ones, then they look at each other, and it all equals out. And if all the groups had been composed only of young people…
…I may get calls every hour about something going wrong: no water here, no electricity there. …I receive many complaints. But they also leave a mess in their own rooms. You know, if you do not do something well there, you should put everything in order first. You would clean up at home, would you not? Why not here? I scold them for it. Yes, I have to scold. Because they never leave it this way at home. Here, when the young ones come, they think they can do it any way they like. Every hour, some grandma will come and clean up the mess. But I come in the morning only, and then the young ladies have to tidy up themselves and keep it clean. They should do it themselves. …But sometimes I also have to engage the professor. I do not want to share it all with the professor, I would like to settle it all on my own, but, sometimes, I have to do it. …It is very good when I, too, have the professor’s support (joy).
…Yes. There is also a diploma. It is in the kitchen, so that everyone could look at this psychologist with a diploma (she laughs). Yes, a psychologist with a diploma (she laughs).
…Yes, I try to understand everyone and be understood by everyone. But I do not always succeed. …WE even argue sometimes. Yes, and then we sing songs, talk politics, chat about something else during a meal. We have a small room, and everything takes place there: sing songs, talk about everything. We manage to talk, laugh and argue. First, I say everything that is on my mind. Openly. Later they all tell me what was wrong. We argue, and then we sign again. This is the way it goes. Sometimes, I get up in the morning, come to work, and I feel moody. I think that we should leave it all at home. I must come here only when I am in a good mood. Because I see that if I am sad, the students will respond to me in the same way. If you smile from the early morning, they will smile, too, and everybody will feel good. … You should have it in your mind first, from the moment you came, about your mood. You should leave everything behind. Different things can happen: you have pain or you have different problems at home. But, here, everybody should meet in good mood. Then everything will be all right… And everything is well! It is, yes! And, otherwise, we all have different anxieties, worries and could be in pain. It can also happen for students. Some are lucky, other are less lucky, and I scold them at the kitchen. You should understand them, too, otherwise they will never want to come again.
…For me, too, the time when I want to work somewhere is coming to an end. I am at the stage of life where I work a little longer if the professor will keep me at the HEPI, and no longer – it is time for me to stay at home. My husband is bed-ridden, his health is bad, and I should take care of him. I also think that it all takes much of my energy.
…The house is large. I think about it like this: a month is in progress, it will come to an end, and it is good, and it is good when a day comes to and end. It happened recently that I went out of the house and fell on the stairs. I hurt my hand and foot. I do not know when they will heal. I would like to continue working, but I do not know how… (sad).
…Yes! Emotions! I am among people. I feel better. We laugh, we talk about things. They are all my daughters and sons. They are all my daughters or sons. They are all as young as my children (laughs). … It would be very hard for me to leave. I know everyone, where they came from.
…I feel where to lodge everyone, what their tempers are. I see. Who is lodged with whom. And you know, I feel such joy when they say on their leaving: ‘Thank you for putting us together!’ It does not work well with everyone. You know, they sometimes like to keep to themselves and say: ‘I want to live on my own, I do not want to live with her!’ I answer: ‘Think of it, it will be cheaper for you to share the room.’ So they try to live with each other and later tell me: ‘I want to live with her when I come next time.’ It happens this way, too. It happens, too. …There are some problems in the rooms, too. It does not happen only in the classroom. Sometimes they cannot get on, no matter what. But, with a little luck, they come throughout all the three years or depending on how many years they come and want to have the same roommate. I am always happy when it happens. Yes, it is pleasant. I do not need anything else. Sometimes, I want to change someone’s room. I say: ‘It is a small room. Girls, maybe you want to have a larger room next time you come?’ And they answer: ‘No, thank you, we are used to it already, we feel good here.’ Can you imagine it; I cannot change the room! It happens, too. It is an art, yes!
…What is my role here? I do not know. I am just a grandmother. This grandma. The nasty one (laughs). ‘Why did you not close the door?’, ‘Why did you leave the light on?’, ‘You are leaving for the classroom, and the light is still burning!’, ‘Switch off the light, quick!’. You see, I am not a very good grandma.
…And, sometimes, I think – how will they all fit in? A small table. Many people are coming. Sixteen to nineteen people come. Some come early, and others come late. But everything is well.
… And sometimes I think that many people come in bad mood, and sometimes I am also in the wrong mood. I think sometimes that if I come out of mood, they arrive out of mood, too. And I tell myself: ‘I should meet them only smiling, and they will smile back.’ And it works.
… I feel very sorry for an unlucky student. …I feel good when everyone feels good. I do not know how they look at me. But all kinds of things happen, sometimes they listen to me. Sometimes they tidy up, even when they did create the mess. They do it so that I would come and find everything is nice and tidy. But they are not the same people who make the mess. … Someone else tidies up so that I come in a good mood to find that everything is tidy. Can you imagine the way it happens? Occasionally, men do it! There are people who leave soiled plates, get up and leave. I come in the morning to cook breakfast and see that I should tidy the table and wash up. But there are students in the group who tidy up so that I would come and cook the breakfast without worrying. Later, they ask me: ‘How did you find it today? Was everything all right?’ And I know already who did it. Can you imagine, did it for me? Tidied it all for me, so that I would be in a good mood. I already feel good about it. There are both girls and men who help. … And I feel good about it. I feel that I mean something for them (joy)! Yes, there is this attitude. Can you imagine it?! They see the mess created by others, but they cannot say to each other: ‘Hold on! Do what you need and go to bed! Do not leave your dirty dishes behind.’ And there is also light, which is sometimes leave through the night. Because the neighbours see it burning throughout the night. But not everyone is like that.
…I feel happy when I see that they are also worried about me, I am not on my own (laughs). We should all be friends. …I feel that they are all so wonderful. I also want to do something good for them sometimes. So we live this way: some are leaving, and others are coming back. Thank you!
…Yes, and so life goes on.’