The Charm and the Challenge: Monument Sparks New Tradition at CEU

October 13, 2017

It’s difficult to say how or why, but many insist: they work.

Budapest has its share of sculptures (think Anonymous in Varosliget or the ‘Fat Policeman’ on Zrinyi utca) which allegedly bestow good luck to those who stop and lay hands.

Last spring CEU adopted one of its own: an enigmatic bronze orb on the Nador 13 rooftop. Although commissioned to honor the power of philanthropy, the monument’s creator cited another function:

Think of it as CEU’s own lucky charm.

“I wanted to create a tradition, for the students,” said the sculpture’s designer, Olesia Kurganova. “After all, everybody needs a bit of luck before an exam.”

She took her cue from the U.K., where public artifacts and the rituals around them (such as nervous pupils laying hands before a big exam) create legends – and strengthen communities.

 “There was nothing like it here” she said. “I felt it was time.”


The orb is centerpiece of the Kharkiv Terrace, a rooftop installment honoring the longtime generosity of Konstantin Kurganov (LEGS ’94), a CEU alumnus and benefactor – and Olesia’s dad.

An engineering and design grad of the University of Glasgow, Olesia was chosen to design the monument by her father, who gave her a free hand but one caveat: it couldn’t be about him.

Instead, it commemorates the family’s hometown, Kharkiv, Ukraine, and its connections to Budapest. The orb itself rests upon a silhouette of Kharkiv, atop the district from which the Kurganov family hails.

Noting the two cities’ similarities, Olesia said that the overall design – an oblong box opening to reveal the gleaming orb – reflects the academic spirit of CEU itself.


The monument was unveiled for last spring’s Alumni Reunion Weekend. Olesia said she hopes students and alumni connect with the terrace.

Mostly, she said she wants students to create their own story around it.

“It’s theirs,” she said. “It’s out of my hands now.”

Students wasted little time in putting that to practice. As part of September’s “Lucky Charm Challenge,” organized by the Alumni Relations office, dozens posted selfies on Facebook of themselves and friends making their wish with the sculpture (photos below). 

Students wished for “the best year of our lives,” and the safety of loved ones. One in particular put the charm to the test:

“We already have our first exam this Friday,” it said. “We need all the luck we can get.” 

Thanks to Olesia for the design and all students who particpated in September's Lucky Charm Challenge!