“Hungarian speakers only” summer camp in Wisconsin paid by the Orbán government

A couple of weeks ago a children’s summer camp was held at Phantom Lake, Wisconsin. The organizers invited children between 8-14 years of age with one precondition: they had to speak the Hungarian language. The Hungarian Government generously supported the week-long fun-filled event. It was advertised only in Hungarian in the US and was called “Diaspora School Camp.”

Poster of the Diaspora School Camp

According to the Orbán government’s Nation Policy the Hungarian Nation is a World Nation. US and Canadian citizens with Hungarian ancestry are all Hungarians and part of the indivisible Nation Body. Those who live outside the Carpathian Basin are part of the Hungarian Diaspora and one day the Diaspora is expected to return to the Mother Country just like the Jews did to Israel. At least that is how Mr. Zsolt Semjén Deputy Prime Minister has explained it.

The United States has no official language. Twenty years ago President Clinton issued Executive Order 13166 which requires the use of multiple languages and translations by all federally-funded agencies and contractors. President Trump has recently indicated that the White House may consider making English the official language. Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told the media that President Trump is supporting the “English only” movement of the Republican Party.

Having a “Hungarian speakers only” camp for children raises some questions. Only 10% of Hungarian Americans speak Hungarian, mostly “kitchen Hungarian.” Even fewer can read or write correctly and it is widely understood that the Hungarian language is almost impossible to learn. A Hungarian only camp seems unfair, and even discriminative to those American children who want to learn about their Hungarian heritage but do not speak the language.

The camp instructors travelled from Hungary and taught about the Hungarian conquest of the Carpathian Basin. Since these children are American citizens, it would have been more appropriate to teach them about their own unique history, for example about the history of Hungarian immigrants in North-America, the Hungarian contribution to American independence, Kossuth’s famous trip to America or the role Hungarian American soldiers fighting against fascism and Horthyism.

I found it especially distasteful that the organizers made children wear a T-shirt advertising that the camp was sponsored by the “Prime Minister’s Office” and photos were widely distributed for propaganda purposes.

Children wore T-shirts indicating that the camp was paid by the Orbán government.

The organizers might want to rethink the “Diaspora School Camp” concept in the future. I see a need to teach Hungarian American immigrant history in English without importing nationalism from Budapest. And please stop using American children to advertise Orbán’s authoritarian government here in the US.

György Lázár

8 Comments

  1. I am familiar with programs that help young people visit Hungary, as part of folk dance initiatives, where young Hungarians who do not speak the language well, can certainly pick up on it, as well as picking up some new dance moves. There are also live-in-Hungary and learn Hungarian programs. I know some people who did it. I personally do not see a problem with any particular event being in Hungarian only. It caters to a specific demographic. Not every event needs to be all-inclusive, because it restricts the kinds of activities that do not cater to everyone, such as having an event where people have the opportunity to speak exclusively in Hungarian. It gives people the opportunity to improve on their “kitchen-Hungarian”. I could certainly use such an event to improve myself in this regard as well.

    Other than that, I do also believe that there will be a time, a few decades from now, when many people in North America and also in Western Europe will increasingly feel the need to re-discover their Hungarian roots. Most Europeans in North America will get that urge to re-discover their respective ethnic identities, because the demographic experiment that is currently taking place, never-ever worked out well for the incumbent dominant population, ever, even once, throughout human history. Just ask the previously incumbents of the land, For them it will be the final nail in the coffin, because with us, all native support programs will disappear. I personally know many people who lost a lot, betting on “this time it is different”.

    Finally, current government is doing far more to support diaspora in cultural activities than previous government and for that they deserve praise. I know this hurts for liberal-globalist Hungarians, but for the Hungarian communities overall, it is a benefit.

  2. Sandor Kerekes says:

    Well said. No price is too high and no stoop is too low for self-aggrandizement of the Orban government.

  3. Don Kichote says:

    „Those who live outside the Carpathian Basin are part of the Hungarian Diaspora and one day the Diaspora is expected to return to the Mother Country just like the Jews did to Israel.“

    … just like the Jews did to Israel … that’s easy to understand … he forgot to mention the Gypsies … disgusting Semjén!

  4. Don Kichote says:

    I am familiar with programs that did not help young people living in Hungary and when they were younger, some of them had to go hungry. And I know a Hungarian woman who took her child to kindergarten in Hungary and another mother confirmed her almost perfect Hungarian language. Is´nt it funny. First they have to starve or not and then they speak almost perfectly Hungarian language without any slang. Welcome to Hungary …

  5. András B. Göllner says:

    @ Joe

    You say:

    ” I personally do not see a problem with any particular event being in Hungarian only.”

    Why not rework that a bit to be more in line with your stance down in this underpass?

    “I personally do not see any problem with the behavior of the Hungarian Prime Minister’s Office”. There. Wasn’t hard was it?

  6. BlessYourHeart says:

    Why does Mr Lazar not open his own summer camp for Hungarian American children and offer a choice to their parents? Whoever wants to follow Mr Lazar’s vision of Hungarian American identity should go to there. I am sure he could even find sponsors for it, some wealthy Americans with the kind of Hungarian heritage Mr Lazar adores will rush to his help. And then let the better identity win. As far as Mr Orban’s policies are considered, didn’t President Trump just said at their meeting in the White House that he considers Orban his twin brother and envies him for his success? You might want to cite that as well, Mr Lazar, for the sake of a “free” Hungarian press as advertised in the name of your medium.

    • Don Kichote says:

      Oh Trump says a lot of racist things, he also says you should go where you came from. If you write “And then let the better identity win.” as then NS SS SA did with the Jews. Aryan was then the “better” identity and they have had summer camps.

  7. György Lázár says:

    Dear BlessYourHeart, Good idea! I hope soon we have more discussions about the identity and unique history of Hungarian and Canadian Americans… I can assure you that it has nothing to do with the übernationalist propaganda of the Orbán regime imported and popularized recently by the so called Diaspora Council. You may want to consider that over 60 percent of Hungarian Americans voted against Trump. The White House may consider Orbán “Trump’s twin brother” but I have a feeling that the majority of Hungarian Americans soundly reject him… despite the propaganda of some paid Hungarian American lobbyists.

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