The Hungarian Association held its 52nd annual Congress in Cleveland, Ohio, on November 23-25, 2012, with the theme of “Embracing Our Cultural Heritage.” Friday’s programs included a lecture by Gabriella Nádas on her recent trip to Transylvania; the showing of „An American Rhapsody,” a film by Éva Gárdos; and a report by Ildikó Csermely on the Students Without Boundaries Program of the Rákóczi Foundation of Canada.
Dr. Balázs Balog’s presentation described the lifestyle of early XXth century Hungarian miners in America where a miner’s house found intact in Vintondale, Pennsylvania, has been transported to the Szentendre Outdoor Folk Museum. Gábor Pataki provided insight into the present socio-economic conditions of the Hungarian community in Carpatho-Ukraine, and there was also a program of music and puppetry for children.
Friday evening’s cultural program featured performances by classical guitarist József Halajkó from Boston; Enikó Óss, Transylvanian actress and producer; Gábor Simonfalvy, a flutist from Budapest; and Emese Chmielewski, a folksinger, and member of the Cleveland Hungarian Scouts. An Art Exhibit and reception by young Hungarian Americans followed.
On Saturday, Dr. János Nádas and Dr. Márta Pereszlényi discussed highlights from Viktor Orbán’s speech made at the October 11 Diaspora Council meeting in Budapest. A round-table discussion entitled „Breaking the Silence: Real People, Real Stories,” featuring Enikő Óss, Gábor Pataki and Edith Lauer was led by Dr. Ágnes Várdy.
The keynote speaker of the Saturday luncheon was Coalition President Maximilian Teleki, who spoke on “Why Embracing our Hungarian Cultural Heritage Matters in 2012 and Beyond.” In sharing the fascinating story of the Teleki family, he provided living proof of the challenge facing the Hungarian American community: to find and engage the next generation who may be deeply interested in its Hungarian identity but does not speak Hungarian. He also spoke about the goals and accomplishments of the Hungarian American Coalition, such as the Visa Waiver program, and of his future hopes for Hungary and the U.S.-Hungarian relationship. The luncheon concluded with a beautiful fashion-show featuring traditional Hungarian folk costumes from various regions presented by the Cleveland Hungarian Scout Folk Ensemble.
Saturday afternoon speakers included Dr. Ágnes Fülemüle, Director of the Hungarian Cultural Center of New York, who spoke about “Preserving Hungarian Traditions in Dress;” Dr. Béla Várdy, who spoke about Hungarian American libraries and archiving materials of Hungarian American organizations; and Timea Oláh, a Fulbright Scholar who spoke about Hungarian American identity. Two organizations held their annual meetings at the conference: the National Committee of Hungarians from Slovakia and the Order of Szent László.
On Saturday evening, the traditional Gala Banquet and Hungarian Ball was attended by 230 people. After the Presentation of Debutantes, Dr. Nádas and Lél Somogyi presented the Árpád Alliance Medals for Community Service to Miklós Peller and Maximilian Teleki. Ildikó Peller received a beautiful bouquet for her invaluable accomplishments in the struggle to reopen Szt. Imre.
The Hungarian Conference concluded on Sunday with an ecumenical church service and two interesting lectures by Máté Révay and Veronika László of Budapest.
Honorary Consul General and Coalition Board Member László Bőjtös commented: “With this conference the Hungarian Association has certainly fulfilled its mission of providing a forum for discussion of issues affecting Hungarian Americans. The excellent cultural programs promoted Hungarian traditions and culture. And it was a special pleasure to look around and see so many young faces in the audience.”