Mistaken Identity – Leslie Burke Barratt – Hungary 1987

When I arrived in Hungary for my first Fulbright, I was introduced to the English Department at the Technical University of Budapest (who I would be teaching) and learned that I would be sharing an office with eight faculty, all of whom were female.  They seemed quite surprised to see me and explained that they had expected me to be a man because my name was Leslie, which is Laszlo in Hungarian and only a male name. Since they were laughing and very friendly, I guessed that they were happy that I was a female.

Throughout the year, I became quite close to several colleagues and have visited them on many occasions whenever I returned to Hungary. I have hosted a few who have traveled to the U.S. as well. However, it was only in 2016 that I learned that they had actually been wanting me to be a man because many of them were single and hoped to meet a new partner. I had totally misunderstood their laughter despite the fact that I spoke some Hungarian. This was a great lesson for me on how people often misunderstand both verbal and non-verbal cues.

Leslie Burke Barratt – Fulbright to Hungary 1987

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