Washington, DC – Twenty-two members of the Hungarian Parliament completed a three-week program in U.S. politics, language, and culture yesterday, co-sponsored by the United States Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the HungarianAmerican Coalition.
During the program, the legislators – many of whom have had little exposure to the United States– participated in briefings and exchanges with U.S. government institutions and non-governmental organizations. Topics included EU-NATO relations, U.S. defense and security policy, international trade issues, and the role of civic groups and independent offices in providing feedback and auditing of government policy.
As an additional component of the program, delegates participated in daily intensive English language classes focused on the specific political and economic vocabulary relevant to each day’s briefing.
Hungary joined NATO in 1997 and will join the European Union in 2004. The original request for the program came from Hungarian parliamentarians of the FIDESZ party desiring to improve their expertise on transatlantic issues, as well as their English-language skills. The Hungarian American Coalition sought assistance from the U.S. Embassy in Budapest and the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs through their International Visitor program, which actively supported this innovative program as a way to foster U.S. government relations with FIDESZ, currently Hungary’s major opposition party.
A unique aspect of the program was that participants were housed at the homes of American families in the Washington, D.C. area, giving them further opportunity to practice their English, receive help with English homework, and, in many cases, to commute using public transportation. Weekend activities included a fishing trip on the Chesapeake Bay and a river-rafting trip on Pennsylvania’s Youghiogheny River.
The program concluded with a weekend visit to New York City, facilitated by the Hungarian Human Rights Foundation, where the legislators toured the city sites and had an opportunity to meet local Hungarian-Americans in a relaxed setting.
The Coalition mobilized numerous members and supporters to ensure the success of this program. Many thanks to friends and supporters for their invaluable contributions to the success of the program, including:
The 25 host families who generously opened their homes to the parliamentarians (and those who offered to)
- Rev. Stephen Török, President and CEO of the Hungarian Reformed Federation of America, for providing classroom space at the Kossuth House during the entire seminar
- H.E. Ambassador András Simonyi and Mrs. Simonyi for hosting the opening reception for the parliamentarians and their hosts as well as providing logistical support
- The Hungarian Consulate–New York, which provided logistical help in New York City
- The Hungarian Human Rights Foundation, which facilitated the program in New York City
- Hosts of receptions and dinners: Mr. András Ábrahám, Mr. and Mrs. László Hámos, Mr. and Mrs. Sándor Károlyi, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Koszorus, Mr. Imre Németh, Mr. Szabolcs Szekeres, Rev. Imre Bertalan, The Bethlen Home (Ligonier, PA), Mr. Anthony C. Beke and Mr. Endre Csomán, the William Penn Association, and the Hungarian Cultural Club of Washington
- Those who generously donated to help defray project expenses: the William Penn Association, the Hungarian Reformed Federation of America, Dr. Daniel McDonald ofthe Potomac Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. John Lauer, Mrs. Andrea Lauer Rice, Mr. and Mrs. Sándor Károlyi, Mr. Daniel Odescalchi, Mr. Szabolcs Szekeres and Mr. Maximilian Teleki.
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The Hungarian American Coalition is a nationwide non-profit organization that promotes public understanding and awareness of Hungarian American issues.