From UNI to Hungary

Bettina Fábos was born in the United States, but her father Gyula Fábos grew up in Marcali, Hungary, which is where this story begins. Bettina is now an associate professor of interactive digital studies at UNI and the author of "Proud and Torn: How My Family Survived Hungarian History," which in its 16 chapters tells her family story from the years 1848 to 1956, and some of Hungarian's tragic and amazing history in an online visual timeline and interactive graphic novel.

Three students and their professor

"Nothing has been more gratifying than working with these wonderful, talented people and producing groundbreaking work together," said Bettina Fábos.

Bettina collaborated with four UNI students who are "brilliant beyond words." While Fábos was the author and director of the project, these students, three of which have graduated, have claimed this project as their own alongside their professor and now colleague. The students include Dana Potter, design, Isaac Campbell, animation, and Collin Cahill (graduating in December 2017) and Jacob Espenscheid, code and development. "I recognized their talents and pulled them into the project," said Fábos.

The online novel is a combination of a documentary, personal narratives, digital archiving and web development. "It's a pretty incredible thing that UNI interactive digital studies students helped master all of the skills needed to create this huge project," said Bettina. "They also learned some of Hungary's incredible history, which we will be able to explore when we go to Hungary."

The team had the opportunity to take a trip to Hungary to do a presentation at the end of the month of June to the Open Society Archives at Central European University, which will be broadcast using Facebook Live. The entire project is available at They visited places relevant to their project, including an old castle where some of the first Hungarians ruled, thermal baths, a tour of the Parliament building, the art deco district, and of course, the town that "Proud and Torn" was based on, by Lake Balaton itself.

"I also see this trip to Hungary as a pinnacle moment for me as a professor and scholar," said Bettina, before their visit. "These UNI students have become immersed in Hungarian history and have become amazing friends. Nothing has been more gratifying than working with these wonderful, talented people and producing groundbreaking work together."

What is truly unique about this project is that it uses parallax scrolling, which means it alternates between vertical and horizontal scrolling, which makes for an interactive experience. It also uses archival photographs and digital archives, with over 1000 licensed images from Hungarian's history. "It [the trip] is a reward for finishing it- for working so hard on this project that will be a free public site and will, hopefully, eventually be turned into a book," said Fábos.

The story told in "Proud and Torn" celebrates ordinary people, following them through the centuries to show how the decisions of national and world leaders through some of the most catastrophic years in Hungary's history drastically affected them. Decisions of those leaders were sometimes based off of pride, led to Hungarians ripping their own country apart; Hence, proud and torn.