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Professional and cultural programs, sports, community building and the experience of the freedom of belonging were the hallmarks of the MCC Winter Camp 2023 held in Ótátrafüred (Starý Smokovec). In addition to the physical challenges, participants also got some intellectual refreshment through thought-provoking panel discussions and debates during the five-day camp, where they were invited to give presentations themselves.

Participants of the first professional panel discussion of the Winter Camp discussed the public, political, social and economic issues of the Hungarian minority in Upper Hungary. The topic was discussed by László Gubík, president of the Via Nova Youth Group, the youth organisation of Magyar Közösség Pártja (Party of the Hungarian Community), and Örs Orosz, Hungarian politician in Slovakia, founder and main organizer of the Gombaszög Summer Camp. They agreed that the October local elections in Slovakia were a great success from the perspective of the representation of the Hungarian minority in Slovakia and the national interest. The stakes of the upcoming parliamentary elections are whether the Hungarian community will play an active role in the functioning and shaping of the state or will lose its position for good, said Örs Orosz. László Gubík drew attention to the need for unity and a clear message and vision for the future to be offered to the Hungarian electorate.

The Visegrád Cooperation is the most successful project of the post-regime change period in Europe, recalled Thibaud Gibelin in a discussion opening the 2nd day of the Winter Camp. According to the MCC visiting fellow from France, the V4 cooperation has such strong foundations that it remains of paramount significance and strength despite the challenges of war.

Kristoffer Hansen, an MCC visiting fellow of Danish origin, highlighted some of the security challenges. The researcher of the University of Leipzig stressed that in a war situation, not only have the army and the armaments to be modernized but also the society and the economy must be prepared, and there is a need for close cooperation in the region.

The state and current issues of sports were discussed during the second panel discussion of the second day. At the beginning of the discussion - in the context of the Winter Camp - winter sports were in the focus. Winter sports have both historical and social traditions," said Dávid Fekete, Head of the MCC Győr Center and Associate Professor at the University of Győr.

Athletes are not an island - Professor Gábor Csepregi pointed out. According to the teacher of the Leadership Academy, former water polo player and captain of the Canadian national team, sport and athletes can never be completely detached from the economy, politics, cultural processes, and positive and negative publicity.

Sport is linked to the political processes in a thousand ways - responded András Hajdú. According to the teacher-researcher of the MCC School of Social Sciences and History, this can be observed mainly when athletes, clubs and associations are stigmatized in relation to various political conflicts. There are also questions about the effectiveness of sanctions in the field of sports diplomacy, he added.

A sense of belonging is what gives us freedom - said the Chairman of the MCC Board of Trustees on the third day of the Camp. Balázs Orbán said that being a member of the MCC family, of the national community, was not a constraint, and it was through the community that we can experience freedom, where the rules and regulations are not a hindrance, but an opportunity for freedom.

On the third day of the Winter Camp, the students had a lot of exciting leisure activities to choose from: they could visit the ice church in Tarajka, take part in the canopy tour in Bachladka, learn about the Szepesség (Spišský) in Lőcse (Levoča) and the Nestville factory.

"The impact of fear on society, culture and politics" was the topic of a presentation by the teachers of MCC Brussels. This fear is based on the fact that we are constantly confronted with threats and the promise of security - explained Prof. Frank Füredi, the head of MCC Brussels.

Prof. Bill Durodié, visiting professor at MCC Brussels, pointed out that fear was rooted in the unknown, in the fear of hardship. He believes that we can overcome these with a sense of mission and purpose, and self-confidence, which brings inspiration and a sense of fulfilment.

The last day of the Camp ended with the "Raven Academy" - Students listened to presentations by fellow students, MCC lecturers and visiting fellows from abroad. Topics included, among others, politics in Germany, the self-assertion of Europe, environmentalism, conservative feminism, the stock market and the courts.

The MCC Winter Camp 2023 in Upper Hungary ended rich in experiences and expert presentations.