Hungarian American Coalition Receives “Friend of Hungary” Award

Washington, DC – The Hungarian American Coalition (Coalition) received the “Friend of Hungary Award” at the 8th annual conference of the Friends of Hungary Foundation, held September 16-18 in Budapest.

The Friend of Hungary Award recognizes the outstanding work of individuals and organizations in the worldwide Hungarian community. Recipients have invested significant time and effort in strengthening Hungarian diaspora communities and improving Hungary’s ties to its diaspora.

Other recipients of this year’s award were Dr. Zsuzsa Papp Aykler, President of the Rákóczi Foundation of Canada (also a Coalition member), and the late János Miska who was recognized posthumously for his achievements as Founder of the Canadian Hungarian Literary Archive and the János Miska Foundation. Miklós Czaun, President of the West Coast Hungarian Scholars Club, who was originally awarded in 2020, also received the recognition at this year’s event.

Coalition members with Foundation President Dr. Sylvester Vizi E.
 and Coalition President Andrea Lauer Rice (holding the Friend of Hungary award).
From left to right: Ms. Piros Pazaurek, Ms. Noémi Bánhidi, Ms. Tímea Antal, Dr. Sylvester Vizi E., Mrs. Andrea Lauer Rice, Dr. Zsuzsa Papp Aykler, Maria Kovalszki, Mrs. Eva Voisin, Dr. Péter Kovalszki, Ms. Judit Némethy, Mr. Zsolt Szekeres, Ms. Katica Avvakumovits

On behalf of the Coalition, President Andrea Lauer Rice accepted the award during the Gala at Pesti Vigadó, held Friday, September 16. She first read a message from Coalition Chairman Emerita, Edith K. Lauer, who could not attend the conference. Mrs. Lauer thanked the Friends of Hungary Foundation for recognizing three decades of dedicated work by the Coalition, and also acknowledged the Coalition’s members and supporters.

In her remarks, Mrs. Lauer Rice summarized the Coalition’s many accomplishments over the past three decades, highlighting the organization’s NATO advocacy; its involvement in Hungary’s acceptance in the US Visa Waiver Program; and its flagship internship and scholarship programs. She also announced the upcoming unveiling of a new Freedom Fighter statue in Atlanta, GA on October 23, 2022, and the Coalition’s Ukraine Relief Fund, which has raised over $100,000 to provide humanitarian assistance to Hungarian and Ukrainian refugees escaping war-torn Ukraine.

She said: “Over the years, I have seen the Coalition rising to the challenge this time and again due to the passion and dedication of our members – all of whom work tirelessly for love of country and heritage – almost always as volunteers, who are at the same time raising families and working full-time jobs. (…). I am extraordinarily proud to be the current President of the Coalition as we strive to rise to today’s challenges, some of which were unimaginable 30 years ago – who would have thought we would have to overcome a global pandemic? Who would have thought we would see today’s images of Ukraine on the nightly news? So, on behalf of our members, supporters and program alumni, we thank you, Friends of Hungary, for this incredible honor. Tonight, we celebrate, and tomorrow, we get back to work.” The recording of her speech is available here.

Before the award ceremony, the 8th Friends of Hungary Conference was opened by the President of the Foundation, Dr. Sylvester Vizi E. His welcoming remarks were followed by a presentation by János Csák, Minister of Culture and Innovation. The afternoon program continued with an overview of the Veszprém-Balaton 2023 European Capital of Culture Project by project CEO Alíz Markovics, and an introduction to the Tempus Public Foundation’s Diaspora Higher Education Scholarship Program, by Orsolya Jánosik, Deputy Director of International Higher Education Development.

Following the award presentations, Balázs Orbán, political director of the Prime Minister gave a talk, and the evening concluded with a gala dinner and concert by the Budapesti Vonósok and Klára Csordás.

On September 17, members of the Friends of Hungary Foundation met with Hungarian President Katalin Novák at the Sándor Palace. Coalition President Andrea Lauer Rice presented her with a maquette of the Hungarian Freedom Fighter statue, to be unveiled on October 23 in Atlanta, GA.

Coalition President Andrea Lauer Rice with Hungarian President Katalin Novák
and the first maquette of the Hungarian Freedom Fighter statue to be unveiled

on October 23, 2022

In the afternoon, the conference continued at Budapest’s Radisson Blue Béke Hotel. Guests could join any of three parallel breakout sessions: Hungarian Diaspora organizations; Hungarian culture and Hungarian Science in the world; and Central European Task Force. The Coalition also participated in the Friends of Hungary Expo, where members introduced their activities to conference participants.

Ms. Csendike Somogyvári and Ms. Noémi Bánhidi managing the Coalition’s booth
at the Friends of Hungary Expo
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