The following press release was issued jointly by the two Co-Chairs’ organizations and the three hosting organizations.
A group of 30 leaders from Hungarian-American organizations attended a two day conference on October 10-11 in New Brunswick, NJ, to find ways to continue to work together to promote Hungarian heritage, culture, and their mutual interests in the US. It also showcased activities by US organizations to support the educational and cultural needs of Hungarians living in Hungary and the surrounding countries.
Dr. Balázs Somogyi, Professor August J. Molnar, Dr. Benedek Varsányi
This third conference in 2008 was held at the American Hungarian Foundation’s museum, library and archives facilities, and hosted by the American Hungarian Federation, the Hungarian Reformed Federation of America, and the Hungarian Civic Association of New Brunswick. It was co-chaired by Dr. August Molnar (President of the Foundation) and Dr. Balázs Somogyi (Chairperson of the Hungarian American Coalition). Imre Lendvai-Lintner (President of the Hungarian Scout Association in Exteris) served as conference moderator.
Earlier conferences – which have been hosted on a rotating basis – were sponsored by the Hungarian American Coalition in Washington, DC, and the William Penn Association and Bethlen Communities in Ligonier, Pennsylvania. The agreements reached at the conferences are non-binding on the attending organizations, but participant organizations usually agree to provide support for areas of consensus.
Conference III was successful on a number of fronts. These included the proposal for a Hungarian Heritage Month through declaration either by the President or the US Congress. Participants also decided that in order to celebrate the unique traditions of Hungarian culture during 2009, Hungarian American communities will organize cultural events in various cities. Six organizations pledged monetary support to establish funding for these events. Potential cultural programs will include performances by members of the Chorus of the Liszt Academy of Music, the Balogh Kálmán Cimbalom Orchestra and other groups.
In the field of education, conference participants agreed to support scholarships and prioritize endowed programs in Hungarian Studies at various US Universities, as well as to investigate broader fundraising efforts. There was general consensus of the need to provide financial assistance for a graduate fellowship in Hungarian Studies of the University of Indiana at Bloomington. Professor Christopher Ball of Quinnipiac University discussed the MBA International Course in Hungary and the future Business Leaders Program for Hungarian graduate students.
There was extensive discussion on how to maintain and encourage the next generation’s interest in Hungarian heritage, culture and language. “Pass It On,” the program designed by Lauer Learning, was presented as an outline of a future interactive Hungarian educational program for youth. The important issue of effective communication was addressed through the availability of www.thegulyaspot.com. This webpage, launched and operated on a volunteer basis by Hungarian American Coalition member, Andrea Lauer, was designed for the whole Hungarian American community. Organizations and individuals were encouraged to use it as the central resource to showcase organizations and local events.
A spirited discussion focused on a recently published survey of Hungarian American organizations, entitled “Beszédből Világ”, produced by the Hungarian Institute of International Affairs. A list of 600 Hungarian Americans organizations in the US was presented, and it was agreed that participants would double-check and update the information provided. In the matter of the upcoming elections, participants of both political parties agreed that Hungarian-Americans should become more active in the political process and strive to have their concerns heard by elected officials of the US government.
Part of the two day program included an uplifting performance by the Choir of the Debrecen Reformed Great Church from Hungary. Bishop Dr. Gusztáv Bölcskei, who was visiting Hungarian Reformed churches in the U.S., spoke to conference attendees about the Reformed Church’s efforts to reunite Hungarian Reformed churches all over the world. Mayor James Cahill welcomed the conference participants and the Choir on behalf of the city of New Brunswick. A video presentation acquainted conference participants with the newly opened Hungarian Language Museum in Sátoraljaújhely, Hungary. During his report about Duna TV, Tibor Purger pointed out that a more comprehensive coverage of the Hungarian American community is both part of Duna TV’s mission and in the interest of the Community itself, but that it can only be achieved through heightened mutual commitment and organizational work. Prof. Károly Nagy stressed the importance of programs such as the successful first summer session of the Hungarian-language Amerikai Magyar Collegium and asked conference attendees for their support in the future.
Of particular note was the friendly exchange of ideas, and the agreement to work together informally on achieving a number of objectives. Plans are being made to hold the next conference in the spring of 2009 in a Midwestern location.