Bay Area, on March 2-3, 2013 organized by Coalition members and Honorary Consuls Éva Voisin and Helen Szablya, and by Katalin Voros and Geza Kadar.
“I am delighted, but not surprised by the overwhelming response to this standing room only event,” said Éva Voisin, a conference organizer. “The conference attracted 73 attendees, representing 29 organizations, 6 US states, and Hungary.” Among the attendees were Coalition members, George Pogan, Ted Horvath, John and Edith Lauer from Cleveland, OH, László Hámos from New York City, NY, Andrea Lauer Rice from Atlanta, GA and Max Teleki from Washington, DC.
The conference provided a forum for participants to describe their activities and to network with each other. (For background information see our press release on this topic dated March 1, 2013,
It became evident that there is a vibrant community of Hungarian groups whose members can support each other. Bay Area participants remarked about the uplifting experience of meeting representatives from Seattle and other more distant cities, and to hear about their ambitious plans for the future. It was clear that grass roots organizations take different forms depending on local conditions and needs, yet their goals are similar: “We confirmed the sincere commitment of the our community to find innovative ways to nurture our culture and heritage,” said Mrs. Voisin.
One general lesson was the need to reach out to the larger, “invisible” Hungarian community. Based on the recent statistics of the 2012 American Community Survey of the Census Bureau, an estimated 70% of Hungarian Americans are not involved in any kind of Hungarian-related activity. This group represents a large block of untapped energy for supporting Hungarian causes, whether on a local or a national level. Many discussions focused on how to use modern communications to reach these individuals, and how to leverage community knowledge to help local groups become more active.
Indeed, mobilizing Hungarian-American leadership for the future is a key concern. “It seems to me that too many of our most impressive programs are balancing on the brink of success or failure, where the work of a few individuals will determine the outcome,” pointed out Géza Kádár Jr., a Board Member of the Hungarian American Coalition who lives in California.
Coalition President Max Teleki acquainted conference participants with the mission and accomplishments of the Hungarian American Coalition, welcoming many young Hungarian Americans among conference attendees. As always, those brought together by HATOG found many common interests, an ad hoc group gathered and decided to build on the Coalition’s efforts to mount a much-needed fundraising campaign in support of the Smithsonian Institution’s Hungarian Folk Festival this year.
For those conference participants who remained in the area on Monday, Geza Kadar conducted a marvelous all-day sight-seeing tour of San Francisco and Sonoma, including the historic Buena Vista Winery founded by Agoston Haraszthy.
The proceedings were covered by the crew of Hungary’s Duna World television “Five Continents, One Nation” program delivering a video message from Menyhert Dobos, CEO of Duna TV.
A full report on the proceedings, including presentation slides, will be available in the near future.
The next Hungarian Americans Together conference is planned for fall of 2013 in Atlanta, GA.