Washington, DC – Coordination in raising relief funds for the victims of the red-sludge disaster in Hungary was added to the cultural agenda when thirty-five Hungarian American leaders of 22 organizations from eight states gathered on October 9-10, 2010, at the Norridge United Church of Christ (Hungarian Reformed Church). The Conference was hosted by the Hungarian Club of Chicago, the Hungarian Society of Chicago, St. Stephen, King of Hungary Catholic Church, the Transylvanian Association, the Hungarian Communion of Friends, the Hungarian Cultural Advisory Council, and the Hungarian-Americans for Human Rights in Délvidék.
The Conference aims to build a network of communication and collaboration among Hungarian organizations in the United States and to develop a strategy for saving and strengthening our Hungarian heritage and culture. Participants elaborated principles for the building of a new forum and infrastructure by the Government of Hungary to assist the Western diaspora and include its representatives in global Hungarian cooperation.
Having started on the East Coast, the HATOG process has been moving westward, and plans to meet next time in California. Agreements are non-binding but participating organizations agree to lend their support for issues requiring consensus. The Chicago Conference was co-chaired by Erika Bokor, László Varjú, László Fülöp, and Maximilian Teleki.
The Conference discussed current and ongoing issues and reached the following recommendations: Strengthening institutional forms of educational activities – University-level institutes of Hungarian studies, museums, and libraries as well as securing scholarships and other assistance programs – is critical to preserving our heritage and to developing interest and understanding by the broader community for the achievements of Hungarian culture and societies. Participants expressed their support for keeping open vital Hungarian churches such as St. Emeric Church in Cleveland and other houses of worship. They also supported the efforts of organizations in the Midwest to request the reopening of the Chicago consulate from the Hungarian Government.
The Conference reviewed local, regional, and national efforts aimed at preserving and passing on the Hungarian language and heritage, and urged new forms and tools to address second- and third-generation Hungarians. It supported legislative efforts to establish a Hungarian-American Heritage Month.
Participants expressed their gratitude to the William Penn Association and to the Hungarian American Coalition for cosponsoring the Conference and to the Chicago organizations for their close collaboration in hosting it, providing a warm and friendly atmosphere – including visits, meals, dances –, and sharing their everyday experience in cultivating Hungarian identity and social life.
A list of participating organizations and individuals is attached.