Washington, DC – The ninth Hungarian Americans Together conference (HATOG IX) was held in Sarasota – Venice, FL, on May 15-17. HATOG is held periodically, in a different U.S. city each time, to provide a forum for local Hungarian initiatives and groups who work to keep Hungarian heritage and customs alive in their communities.
On Friday night, more than 60 representatives from 10 states, plus guests from Hungary, attended the conference’s welcoming event,. Réka Szemerkényi, Hungary’s recently appointed Ambassador to the United States, was invited as keynote speaker.
The conference was organized by the Hungarian Christian Society (HCS)/Petofi Club, the Hungarian American Coalition (Coalition), and The Hungary Initiatives Foundation.
The following individuals did the lion’s share of the work in preparing and managing the conference: Erika Klatyik (Global Friendship Foundation); Andrea Lauer Rice (Coalition); Noemi Szilagyi (Hungarian Christian Society); Ottilia Varga (Napraforgok) and Eva Kisvarsanyi (Kossuth Club).
Local volunteers from Sarasota and Coalition interns helped at every stage.
The following organizations and their representatives attended the conference:
Laszlo Apathy – HCS, Hungarian Scouts, Sarasota, FL
Emese Asztalos – Putnam Magyar Gyulekezet Hatarok Nelkul, Daytona Beach, FL
Istvan Bathazi – Professional Athlete, University of South Carolina, SC
Peter Pal Bodor – Miami Magyar Haz, Miami, FL
Albinka Bodor –Miami Magyar Haz, Miami, FL
Erika Bokor –Hungarian Communion of Friends, Chicago, IL
Julianna Boros–Makvirag Ovoda, Orlando, FL
Viktoria Butala – Makvirag Ovoda, Orlando, FL
Zsuzsa Cajkas – Hungarian Kids Club, Miami, FL
Zsuzsa Cselenyi – HHRF, ReConnect Hungary, New York, NY
Reka Cseresznyes – Hungarian Catholic Mission, San Francisco, CA
Andras Evva – American Foundation for Hungarian Youth & Culture, Naples, FL
Phyllis Evva – American Foundation for Hungarian Youth & Culture, Naples, FL
Erika Fedor – Hungarian Heritage House, Washington, DC
Stefan Fedor – Hungarian Heritage House, Washington, DC
Sylvia Federico Ferenczik – Hungarian Scouts, Las Vegas, NV
Aranka Hawaii – HCS, Hungarian Scouts, Sarasota, FL
Istvan Gergatz – Honorary Consul of Hungary, Sarasota, FL
Faye Gillespie – Boskola, Boston, MA
Eszter Kovacs Herner – HHRF / ReConnect Hungary, NY
Eniko Margit Horvath – Hungarian American Coalition, Washington, DC
Margit Horvath – Ormond Beach Magyar Muzeum, Ormond Beach, FL
Eva Kish – Minnesota Hungarians, MN
Eva Kisvarsanyi – Kossuth Club, Sarasota, FL
Erika Klatyik – Global Friendship Foundation, Sarasota, FL
Reka Kormendy – Del Floridai Magyarok Szov., Miami, FL
Gyorgy Krajcsik – Kossuth Club, Sarasota FL
Attila Kulcsar – Open Bible Hungarian Church, Sarasota FL
David Kurkjian – MasterMessaging, Atlanta, GA
Edith Lauer – Hungarian American Coalition, Cleveland, OH
Andrea Lauer Rice – Hungarian American Coalition, Atlanta, GA
Gyula Lukacs – Elixir Tea Haz, Sarasota FL
Anett Matko – Hungarian American Coalition, Washington, DC
Zsolt Molnar – Bocskai Radio, Cleveland, OH
Julia Nemeth – Hungarian Scouts, San Diego, CA
Beata Schwindler Onody – Orlandoi Magyar Klub, Orlando, FL
Ildiko Pataki – Hungarian Scouts, San Francisco, CA
Piroska Pazaurek – Putnam Magyar Gyulekezet Hatarok Nelkul, Daytona Beach, FL
Ildiko Phillips – Magyar Club of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Kinga Revesz – Washingtoni Magyar Klub, Washington, DC
Jozsef Rostas – Hungarian American Coalition, Washington, DC
Zsuzsa Salamon – Hungarian Kids Club, Miami, FL
Andras Spevak – HCS, Hungarian Scouts, Sarasota, FL
Sara Spevak – HCS, Hungarian Scouts, Sarasota, FL
Réka Pigniczky – 56 Films, Orinda, CA
Friderika Szatmari – Panorama Magazin, NJ
Ambassador Reka Szemerkenyi –Embassy of Hungary, Washington, DC
Judit Szentkiralyi – Hungarian Scouts, Cleveland, OH
Katalin Szilagyi – HCS, Hungarian Scouts, Sarasota, FL
Laszlo Szilagyi – HCS, Hungarian Scouts, Sarasota, FL
Noemi Szilagyi – HCS, Hungarian Scouts, Sarasota, FL
Zsofia Tabori – Hungarian American Coalition, Washington, DC
Agnes Takacs – Orlandoi Magyar Klub, Orlando, FL
Maximilian Teleki – Hungarian American Coalition, Washington, DC
Agnes Toth – Hungarian Guru Klub, Sarasota, FL
Attila Toth – Hun Guru Klub, Sarasota, FL
Gabor Toth – Southeastern School of Ballet, Columbia, SC
Veronika Toth – Hungarian American Coalition, Washington DC
Judit Trunkos – Professional Athlete, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC
Ottilia Varga – Napraforgok Tancegyuttes, Sarasota, FL
Gabor Veres – Miami Egyhaz / Kossuth Kor, Miami, FL
Agnes Virga – Hungarian Society of Massachusetts and Boskola, Boston, MA
Eva Voisin – Honorary Consul, San Francisco, CA
Paul Voisin – San Francisco, CA
Liz Vos – Magyar Marketing, Bronxville, NY
The conference welcome reception took place on Friday, May 15, with a welcoming speech by Éva Kisvarsanyi who introduced the Kossuth Club of Sarasota. Next, Coalition President Maximilian Teleki explained the background of the HATOG conference and described the Coalition’s current activities. Ambassador Szemerkényi’s also spoke emphasizing the importance of community events such as HATOG. Other speakers included Dr. Istvan Gergatz, Honorary Consul of Hungary in Sarasota; and Coalition Vice President Andrea Lauer Rice.
Both Saturday and Sunday programs began with Pastor Attila Kulcsar’s heartfelt comments and prayer urging HATOG participants to listen and be open to each other, to find in others and themselves the God-given talents, and use them to the benefit of our organizations and the greater Hungarian American community.
In the conference’s Saturday program, which was held in the beautiful home of the Hungarian Christian Society/Petofi Club in Venice, participant organizations gave short presentations on their activities. Coalition President Max Teleki presented an overview of the mission and programs of the Coalition. Noemi Szilagyi introduced the activities of the Hungarian Christian Society/Petofi Club, and in Tamas Fellegi’s absence HIF Board Member Edith Lauer reported on the goals and grant-giving activities of the Hungary Initiatives Foundation.
Mrs. Lauer Rice commented on the current make-up of the Hungarian American community and proposed a strategy for reaching out to the newer generations of Hungarian Americans who speak only English. In her keynote remarks, Amb. Szemerkényi reported on her warm reception in Washington and her commitment to start a new page in US – Hungary bilateral relations, and she urged the participants to include the Hungarian Embassy in their programs and future plans. Her speech was followed by a comprehensive question and answer period.
During the working lunch, Andrea Lauer Rice presented the oral history project, “Memory: A Hungarian American Visual History Archive,” on which she is collaborating with film director Réka Pigniczky, of 56 FIlms, focusing initially on Hungarian Americans who arrived as refugees after the Second World War and the 1956 revolution.
Zsuzsa Cselenyi of the Hungarian Human Rights Foundation introduced ReConnect Hungary, the Hungarian Birthright Program. Eszter Kovacs Herner, HHRF intern, underscored the importance of the Korosi Csoma Sandor Program in the life of Hungarian American communities. They also spoke about HHRF’s efforts on behalf of persecuted property rights advocate from Romania, Attila Marko, their digitization project that Eszter is working on for their 40th anniversary in 2016. Judit Szentkiralyi held a presentation about Hungarian Scouts in Cleveland, which has thrived in that city for more than 60 years, and about the jubilee scout camp for Hungarian scouts from around the world, to be held in August in Upstate New York.
Coalition intern Jozsef Rostas spoke about Hungarian American advocacy for minority rights and similar work done by Hungarian minority organizations in the Carpathian Basin.
Participants attended interactive development sessions focusing on fundraising and messaging, grant writing and social media, leadership, and developing community networks.
In the late afternoon and evening, over 150 participants and 50 guests attended the parade of Hungarian culture including a dance program by Ottilia Varga’s Napraforgó children’s group and a fashion show by Hungarian designer, Tünde Hrivnák.
On Sunday morning, David Kurkjian, founder of the Master Messaging, led a professional development session about messaging and fundraising.
Remarks by Agnes Virga, from the Hungarian Society of Massachusetts, closed the conference.