In ten years, Reconnect Hungary has given 185 young Hungarian–Americans the opportunity to strengthen their Hungarian identities – guests heard on August 11th, 2022 at the milestone celebration of the birthright program.
Founded by the New York-based Hungarian Human Rights Foundation (HHRF), festivities for the cultural immersion youth program took place at the Hungarian National Museum in Budapest. “There is no place more fitting to celebrate Reconnect Hungary’s 10th birthday, than the Hungarian National Museum” – said Zsolt Szekeres, President of HHRF. Márton Vidor Kis, co-owner of Continest, also delivered remarks. The innovative company made the mobile emergency medical unit which the Hungarian American Coalition and HHRF commissioned for war-torn Odessa in Ukraine.
The event was made possible by the following generous sponsors: David Bell (RH ’13), Bluefield Kft., Hungarian American Coalition, Hungarian Scout Association in Exteris, Kossuth Foundation and Ferenc Kott.
Gabriella Vajtay, director of Reconnect Hungary, expressed her hopes, that the program can continue to achieve its goals year after year to build team spirit among participants and strengthen the Hungarian identity of future generations of Hungarian Americans.
“More than 11 years ago George Pataki, former governor of New York State, and his daughter, Allison, reached out to László Hámos, founder and president of HHRF with the need for a birthright program aimed at second, third and fourth generation of young Hungarian-Americans who do not speak Hungarian or have lost their Hungarian identities, yet long to be a part of the larger Hungarian diaspora. Relying on the Foundation’s long association with the Governor, he urged HHRF to create such a program, recalled Emese Latkóczy, HHRF executive director, and Reconnect Hungary co-founder. As she said, the social capital created on both sides of the ocean is invaluable. “We encourage participants to join their local Hungarian communities after they go home: volunteer; learn the Hungarian language; study and work in Hungary if they get the chance. They are our future’ – said Emese Latkóczy, who personally thanked past and present associates for their self-sacrificing work throughout the years. “Hopefully we can continue this work and give even more young people the gift of a Hungarian identity” – concluded HHRF’s director from New York.
After the speeches, guests watched an 10-minute photomontage of the past 10 years’ most memorable moments.
The highlight of the evening was serving of a specially created birthday cake.