The Szechenyi Hungarian Community Saturday School and Kindergarten in New Brunswick, NJ, recently celebrated three decades of service to the Hungarian American community.
Every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. between September and May, students from preschool age to adult attend classes and activities focusing on Hungarian language, culture and history. Most classes require the students to speak Hungarian, however, there are two classes for non-Hungarian speaking students. Primarily intended for non-Hungarian spouses of Hungarian speaking parents and their children.
“Most Hungarian-Americans want their children to appreciate their family heritage, but they soon realize that this is easier and more fun as part of a community,” says school director Juan Gorondi. “That’s what the school is for – a community of families, helping each other stay connected to our Hungarian roots.”
Thanks to organizing and recruitment efforts spearheaded by Gorondi and his predecessor Zsolt Balla, enrollment this year has reached nearly 100, reflecting a steady increase over the past six years. “Most parents understand that giving your child a second language and culture is a valuable gift,” says Balla. “And being multicultural can be an important advantage in today’s world.”
The Saturday school was founded in 1973 by New Brunswick’s two Hungarian churches and the local Hungarian scout troops. For nearly 20 years, the community also supported a full-day, five-day-a-week Hungarian kindergarten.
The school is a non-profit organization staffed and managed by volunteers, mostly parents. Recently, the school provided materials and advice for a similar, newly established Hungarian school in the Boston area, whose director is a Rutgers graduate and Szechenyi School alumna.
The Szechenyi School is an organizational member of the Hungarian American Coalition.
The Hungarian American Coalition is a nationwide non-profit organization that promotes public understanding and awareness of Hungarian American issues.