A reunion of refugees, class of ’57

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ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. -- They were refugees of a failed uprising, most of them arriving penniless and alone, baffled by the language, knowing that returning home could mean jail or death.

But for eight weeks in the winter of 1956-57, roughly 300 Hungarians fleeing the Soviet tanks that crushed their startling revolt found a life raft in a small college 90 miles north of New York City.

Even if they could scarcely stop chatting in Hungarian, they learned enough English to manage the road ahead. Young men and women who served time in labor camps for being “class enemies” learned some of the peculiarities of a new country where police need not always be feared or bribed. They learned of scholarships that vaulted them to schools like Princeton and M.I.T. And, it’s worth noting, two refugees married each other.

Those eight weeks at Bard College so many years ago generated dividends that the United States is still collecting...

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