Hungarian Americans Together Conference IV

CLEVELAND, OHIO – SEPTEMBER 17-18, 2009

Thirty-five Hungarian American organizational leaders gathered on September 17-18, 2009, at the Cleveland Hungarian Heritage Museum in downtown Cleveland for the fourth Hungarian Americans Together Conference (HATOG IV). The goals of the conference were: to learn about each other’s needs and programs; to continue building a network of communication and cooperation among Hungarian organizations in the U.S.; and to continue to develop a strategy for strengthening and saving our Hungarian American institutions to promote our Hungarian heritage, culture and mutual interests. The agenda focused on issues relevant to the needs of both the Hungarian American community and of Hungarians living in Hungary and the surrounding countries.

The conference was co-chaired by Gabriella Nádas (Hungarian Association), Andrea Mészáros (Cleveland Hungarian Heritage Society) and László Böjtös (Honorary Consul General, Hungarian American Coalition). Edith Lauer (Hungarian American Coalition) served as conference moderator, and the William Penn Association provided generous financial support for the meeting. After holding previous gatherings in Washington, DC, Ligonier, PA and New Brunswick, NJ, the Midwest venue was chosen with the hope that momentum for Hungarian American organizational cooperation and communication would extend westward, with Chicago as a potential site for the next HATOG conference.

Agreements reached at the prior conferences have been non-binding but the attending organizations agreed to lend their support for issues requiring consensus. The conference discussed the following issues and made the following recommendations:

Organizations were requested to check their contact information on the database prepared as a deliverable of the survey of Hungarian American organizations edited by Attila Z. Papp, which was published in August 2008. The database is available at the following websites: http://www.omnibus-srl.ro/usa_szerveze_zis_20080928.xls and at HAC’s site under the Hungarian Americans Together folder. Observations and updates can be made by sending an email to pappza@yahoo.com or office@omnibus-srl.ro.

Andrea Lauer Rice informed attendees of the role of the Gulyás Pot and encouraged organizations and individuals to send information and to create a link on their own websites to this online Hungarian American community bulletin board. She also reported about Pass It On, a project developed by her company, Lauer Learning, as another way to reach to pass on our Hungarian heritage (in English) to Hungarian Americans.

Past conferences have supported the creation of an officially declared “Hungarian Heritage Month” that would unite Hungarian American communities and encourage holding local celebrations during this month. Max Teleki reported on progress being made toward the naming of such a month on the national level, and promised to announce it soon.

Prof. Andras Ludanyi’s presentation expressed the need for community support for existing Hungarian university programs. Attendees then heard presentations on university level courses with Hungarian-focused content, and in particular, the special status of the Graduate Hungarian Studies Program that exists at Indiana University in Bloomington. Dr. Balázs Ablonczy, Program Director, gave a report of the background and the present funding challenges faced by this program. A Committee was formed to look into funding options that would help ensure the continued existence of this program.

The conference collected information about existing scholarships and internships offered by all organizations present. It became obvious that there exists an impressive number of scholarships for Hungarian as well as American students, both here and abroad, for both secondary and university students. Representatives of organizations that sponsor such academic support described their programs, and the conference agreed to make this information available to the public online.

A list of Hungarian cultural centers and museums will also be available online. Attending organizational representatives who support these types of institutions reported on their work and facilities. In addition, participants shared their plans for invited artists and cultural programs scheduled in the coming months.

Reaching out to the next generation and the new Hungarian immigrants was discussed as a common concern of all organizations. Endre Szentkiralyi shared the experience of the Hungarian Scouts, and a discussion followed about bilingualism and newer methods of communication.

On Saturday, the discussion focused on how joint actions on “high priority situations” have been effectively coordinated in the past. Kuni Nadas related her experience with the comprehensive letter-writing campaign in 2000 to have one of the buildings of the Kolozsvár Hungarian Reformed School in Kolozsvar, Romania, restored to the church district, while Max Teleki described the coordinated reaction against the recent passage of the Slovak Language Law with its punitive impact on the Hungarian minority.

With presentations from Ted Horvath and Andy Meszaros, the conference also touched on the important issue of fundraising. Attendees related their various efforts to maintain their organizations and fund their programs through membership dues, individual donations and organizing large fundraising events.

The conference heard of the offer of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences to act as a final repository of books and archives belonging to individuals and Hungarian American organizations. The program called “Rodostó” seeks to save this material in Hungary for future generations, while several Hungarian American museums seek to house them in the U.S.

Finally, Laszlo Bojtos touched on the closing of Catholic churches in various cities in the U.S. and how this impacts the local Hungarian communities, with emphasis on the present Cleveland experience.

The HATOG IV conference was enriched by a wonderful group dinner Friday evening, preceded by a dynamic performance by the Csárdás Dance Company. Attendees had the opportunity for personal discussions throughout the conference, as the Cleveland Hungarian Museum hosted two breakfasts and two luncheons that created an environment conducive to meeting new people and sharing ideas and experiences.

The following is the list of those in attendance.

LIST OF ATTENDEES AT HATOG IV
Cleveland, Ohio – September 18-19, 2009 

Dr. Balazs Ablonczy Indiana Univ., Bloomington – Hungarian Studies
Carolyn Balogh Cleveland Cultural Gardens
Artur Bartfay  Columbus Hungarian Cultural Assn.
Balazs Bedy Hungarian Scouts
Zoltan Bereczky Calasanctius Program
Laszlo Bojtos Honorary Consul General, Hungarian American Coalition
Gergely Boszormenyi-Nagy Hungarian American Coalition Congressional Intern
Erika Bokor and Jozsef Megyeri Hungarian Communion of Friends
Drs. Jeanette and Glenn Brown Cleveland civic leaders: Cleveland Hungarian Development Panel, The Generation Foundation
Endre Csoman The William Penn Association
Nikolett Ferencsics Calasanctius Program
Agnes and Laszlo Fulop Minnesota Hungarians, Inc. 
Otto Friedrich Cleveland Hungarian Heritage Society
Bence Gonda Hungarian American Coalition Congressional Intern
Nora Halasz Calasanctius program
Ted Horvath Cleveland Hungarian Heritage Society
Zsolt Huber Hungarian Cultural Association of Columbus, Ohio
John Korossy World Federation of Hungarian Veterans, United Hungarian Societies
Sandor Kremer Chicago Magyar Club, Hungarian Americans for Human Rights in Delvidek
Edith Lauer Hungarian American Coalition
Prof. Andras Ludanyi Hungarian Communion of Friends
Rt. Rev. Louis Medgyesi Calvin Synod, Bethlen Home
Marika Megyimori Cleveland Hungarian Development Panel 


 

Andrea Meszaros

Cleveland Hungarian Heritage Society
Mary Jane Molnar Hungarian Cultural Center of Northeast Ohio
Prof. Agoston Molnar American Hungarian Foundation
John Morey, Hungarian Reformed Federation of America
Gabriella Nadas Hungarian Association, Hungarian Scout Foundation 
Andrea Lauer Rice The Gulyas Pot, Pass It On
Kori Smith Cleveland Cultural Gardens
Endre Szentkiralyi representing the Hungarian Human Rights Foundation
Pal Szentkiralyi Hungarian Scouts
Lel Somogyi  Arpad Akademia
Steven Szappanos Cleveland Hungarian Heritage Society 
Dr. Laszlo Tomaschek National Committee of Hungarians from Slovakia
Max Teleki Hungarian American Coalition
Dr. Laszlo Varju Chicago Magyar Club

 

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