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"Hungarian-Americans Together," Ligonier, PA, June 26-27, 2008

American Hungarian Federation Participates In “Hungarian Americans Together” Conference6/30/2008 - American Hungarian Federation Participates In “Hungarian Americans Together” Conference... On June 26-27, 2008, the American Hungarian Federation (AHF) participated in a conference titled “Hungarian Americans Together,” held at Ligonier, Pennsylvania.

Imre Bertalan, Jr., Gyula Balogh, Atilla Kocsis, and Zoltan Bagdy represented the AHF at the gathering.  The conference was sponsored by the William Penn Association and the Hungarian American Coalition, and was hosted by the Bethlen Communities in Ligonier.  AHF’s Imre Bertalan, Jr., in his capacity as president of the Bethlen Communities, served as host, organized conference logistics and acted as co-moderator of the meeting.  Stephen Varga, Chairman of the William Penn Association’s Board of Directors, served as the other conference moderator.

The focus of the conference was the future health and security of domestic Hungarian organizations.  Major themes in this context were: 

  • how to assure the ongoing success of various educational, cultural and church programs in the American Hungarian community;
  • how to preserve and pass on the American Hungarian heritage and legacy established by our ancestors more than a century ago;
  • how to successfully communicate this heritage and legacy, so that future generations will feel the same ownership of their heritage as we do today.

The Ligonier conference was the second of a series of meetings planned on this topic; the first was held at the Kossuth House in Washington, D.C., on April 19th.  Approximately 35 participants attended the Ligonier meeting, representing about 15 Hungarian organizations, chiefly from the East Coast area.

Speaking on behalf of AHF, Gyula Balogh noted, “The American Hungarian Federation is pleased to add its voice to this discussion, and share its thoughts about the so-called domestic agenda.  AHF has a hundred-year history; we have many successes and accomplishments, as well as “lessons learned.”  With this background and experience, we are happy to make a contribution to this effort.”

Among the decisions reached, the participants agreed that it would be useful, strategically and operationally, to focus our future efforts in the context of a popular program or event, such as the proposed American Hungarian Heritage Month, or the Year of Culture, Hungary-2009 program.  Organizations not represented at the Ligonier meeting would more likely coalesce around a concrete program, instead of participating in discussions about organizational improvements.  It was agreed to formulate plans in 2009 around one of those programs. 

The group also agreed to two broad resolutions:

  • continue these discussions in the future, organizing future meetings around specific issues and goals, and using the “Gulyas Pot” for communicating between meetings
  • continue our past and current work advocating Hungarian causes – speaking out on behalf of Hungarians living in Hungary and outside of the country
At the conclusion of the conference, participants agreed to meet again, in October or November, at a location to be determined.

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