Bandi and I spent the day there under the United Hungarian Societies name representing everyone. The main takeaway from being there yesterday is that the Hungarian Community in Cleveland is something to be very proud of!
The consensus from the other ethnic groups that were represented was that none of them have anything like what we do, not in the combination of longevity, quantity and the quality of the organizations and the events and programs they hold and nurture, nor the sharing of and education about our heritage now and its preservation for the future. Not that we talked to each and every one of them, but we ended the day with a woman who did just that, who is a community organizer and she went around and talked to them and collected information she will share, and she said that with us, she hit the mother load!
Many of them have primarily the Garden and no other or few formally organized groups, even though some have populations in the Greater Cleveland area much larger than ours.
Just a few examples: Someone from the Italian Garden asked about the Museum as they are thinking that possibly they may be able to have one, also. A Ukranian woman asked how we are doing at the Galleria – I thought there is already a Ukranian Museum, so this may have been another group inquiring and they may not be working together. So when we tell them our Museum goes back more than 30 years, they realized what they may have already lost by not cooperating or by just starting now.
That the Hungarian Community is represented at the Art Museum and we are accessible to the public on this day always turns out to be worth the effort. We talked to people from many backgrounds, from Eastern European to Turkish, couples with mixed family ethnicities, and so just plain Americans. The conversation with one lovely couple went from the Garden to the Organ Concert at the Blackstone Home which was to be held in less than two hours, and after I showed them photos in my phone of how remarkable it is, and a quick phone call to Carolyn, they actually went! And per Carolyn Balogh, they loved it, and most likely we will be seeing them again, though neither is Hungarian.
We talked about the Regös and their upcoming performance with a lot of people and how they are such a gem in the city of Cleveland, not just among us. A Turkish man whose hobby is linguistics talked at length with Bandi about the Hungarian language – he was super knowledgeable – and they used the “A Bölcsötöl a Sírig” as the basis for a discussion about sentence structure, pronouns, prefix and suffix, etc. And although he has heard the advertising of the Hungarian State Ensemble coming to perform (I should have asked where he heard that), he was actually more intrigued and interested in the folk focused performance of the Regös than a theatrical production and will definitely be back in town to attend the Regös, and maybe both, if he can. A lot of people took the Regös flyers!
That’s just a few of the positive and lovely interactions we had with all kinds of people. We gave out the handouts and told people about the Museum in the Galleria, the exhibits and lectures, the Paprika held by the Development Panel, the Thanksgiving weekend of lectures by the Magyar Társaság, the beauty of the Hungarian Garden not that far away, and the Genealogy Society (though we had no handout); the picture of the Szekely kapu on the Hungarian Cultural Center’s flyer got a lot of attention and questions, as did the flyer for the Scouts as well as the Regös and all that they do for our Hungarian youth. My apologies if I missed anyone here, but we honestly covered so much it was pretty amazing.
We got accolades from the Art Museum’s people, as well. And to further emphasize how important this outreach really is, of all the people we talked to all day, besides the members of the Regös and their family, the number of them who were Hungarian was 4 – László Böjtös and his daughter Anita, and 2 other people!
And on another positive note, Dan Hanson was there doing his usual thorough reporting and picture taking and I thanked him for all he does for all of us. Many people told us they look at People.com to find out about our events – so we definitely should all continue to keep Dan informed of all that our many organizations are doing.
So, to everyone who runs these organizations, who year after year make things happen, to those who are members and who dedicate so much personal time so that we can share our love for our heritage and also to reach out to people outside of our close-knit group to teach them about what it means to be Hungarian – BRAVO!
Ari/Andrea and Bandi Lázár