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The International Day of People with Disabilities ‒ Kriszti’s Story

2023.01.13.

Kriszti has been working at STUDIO IN-EX as an HR assistant for more than two years, and as an organizational and process developer and social insurance administrator since August. What is special about Kriszti’s situation is that she lives with disability. Her disability is called infantile cerebral palsy, in Kriszti’s case her neural pathways are affected. We talked to her on the occasion of the International Day of People with Disabilities. Through her story we would like to raise awareness of the importance of employing disabled people as this can bring many positive benefits to both the employer and the employee.

Krisztina Beke organizational and process developer
You probably had to face some difficulties in primary school.

Of course, though, as a child, I did not think of them as difficulties. It was more about not understanding why people want to treat me differently from others. At home I was used to get the same treatment as my cousins, for example, of course, taking into account those things I was not able to perform, or not in the same way.

Did you study at a special school? If yes, then what makes the syllabus of a special school different from other schools and how does it help disabled children to study? If not, then what difficulties did you face during your school years and how were they solved?

The only special institution I attended was the nursery at the Pető Institute at Villányi út. Of course, now it looks different from what it used to look like. Besides attending this special nursery, I also had physiotherapy and swimming classes, which I also continued in my years at primary school. Thanks to my family and my teachers at the nursery, I was able to attend a “normal” primary school, first in Köbölkút utca, later in the city center, not far from the Basilica. Luckily, both schools agreed to teach me despite my disability. Maybe this is one of the reasons why I don’t think of myself as an ill person even though the medical records say otherwise.

Did you go to a special or a “normal” secondary school and what difficulties did you have to face in those years?

I continued my studies at a normal secondary school. It was difficult to finish, but not impossible, because I got used to keeping the pace with the other students already at primary school. What made my situation more difficult is that I had to get through some necessary operations during my years in secondary school, so I was homeschooled.

Did your teachers and peers help and accept you or did you have to face any emotional problems?

I must say, I consider myself lucky when it comes to my primary school years. First of all, because I had incredibly supportive teachers, who paid special attention to their most talented students and gave them exercises that fit their abilities. In addition, care was taken not to create cliques within the class community and to accept children who were different from the others. Compared to this, grammar school was a complete disappointment. I did not feel the same acceptance, neither by my teachers nor by my peers. I was always envied for being homeschooled even though I attended all classes just like them. However, I did not have to write the tests and those which I had to write were not marked because I got my grades at the end-of-year exams. My classmates did not care about this. The other disappointment was the way my high school principal acted. He came up to me after the written part of the exam in Hungarian language and literature and said to me: “I would never have thought you could pass the final exam”, although I myself had never had any doubts that I would be able to do it.

What was your first impression when you started working at STUDIO IN-EX? Did you have any fears about whether your colleagues were going to accept you? Did you have any problems fitting in? What was your first experience about your colleagues?

I can describe my first expression with a single word: Wow! I never contemplate about whether I am going to be accepted or not when I start a new job. Based on the first job interview, I can usually judge pretty accurately how I’ll be received on my first day at work.

What difficulties did you have to face? What was your greatest challenge in your job? What was your greatest success and failure?

How do we define difficulty? I am asking this question because I started working at IN-EX right at the beginning of the COVID lockdown. This situation was not only challenging for me but for everyone else around me. Finding out how I can work under these circumstances was an exciting experience for me, as I never had the chance to do this during my previous jobs. Let me answer here to your two previous questions whether fitting in has caused any problems. I do not think it has. Only the situation itself was a bit weird. What was the first experience with my colleagues like? I first came to the office in June, feeling excited about the challenges I will have to face. Everyone seemed to be curious about what their new colleague, which is me, would be like. What was the greatest challenge I faced? I cannot decide. The reason I love my job is because it is challenging, and I never have to think about how I should keep my “little braincells” busy. In fact, I consider finishing every single job as a success. I never rank them by difficulty. What about failures? I far as I am concerned, I try not to think of jobs gone wrong as failures. I just try to learn from situations like these.

Do you like working in a team or on your own?

I like working in a team as well as alone, but in case of teamwork I prefer everybody to have their own particular task to do.

What helps you getting through an exhausting day? What are your hobbies?

Well, it depends on the situation. It can be some enjoyable conversation with friends, a delightful book to read, a nice walk… anything relaxing. If none of these help, there is only one solution, which could be surprising based on the things I just said. Sometimes I do feel sorry for myself. Although it does not last long because I cannot stand this state. The only solution for this problem is to be left alone. I love reading and watching films (I prefer documentaries and science-based series), listening to music, going to museums, sightseeing (as part of an organized tour or on my own), sitting down with friends for a nice chat or just observing the sounds of nature.

A lot of people are insecure when it comes to disability, probably more than the disabled people themselves, as people with disabilities have had to face situations like these numerous times. What advice would you give to those who meet a disabled person and do not know how to handle the situation?

It is difficult to answer this question because it depends on the person who experiences their disability. There is no problem with a person who accepts their disability. Treat them like you would everyone else. Ask them what sort of help they need, and if they do not need your help, do not be offended either, because it is probably true. If they do need help, they will tell you in what way they need your help anyway. If they need assistance, make sure to give it to them the way they told you to because they know what the proper way is to cope with a particular problem. There are also those disabled people who are not able to accept their situation. The rejection from these people will probably be a little harsh. You should not even bother explaining them you were just trying to help, because they would not care. In this case just leave them alone and say goodbye.

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