Remarks by Chargé d’affaires, a.i. David Kostelancik
On the occasion of the Opening of the American Corner in Szeged
March 21, 2018
– as prepared –
Mayor Botka, Rector Szabo, Director Orban, American Corner Directors, Ladies and Gentlemen, Good evening! Jó estét kivánok!
I’d like to begin by saying how pleased I am to speak here today. It’s truly an honor to join all of you at the opening reception of the American Corner in your beautiful city.
Tonight, America Corner Szeged joins a family of American Spaces located in cities and small towns around the world – from Seoul to Subotica! Hosting more than 16 million visits each year, American Spaces bring our country closer to the world, creating a place where we can interact with local citizens, share our history and culture, and learn from the local community.
With over 700 Spaces in 169 countries worldwide, American Spaces provide welcoming environments where visitors can connect and learn about the United States. Hosted in embassies, schools, libraries, and other partner institutions worldwide, American Spaces are platforms for providing information about the United States, our policy, culture, and values; English language learning; alumni activities, and information about study in the United States.
A multifunctional platform for public programs, American Spaces promote open dialogue, counteract negative preconceptions, and build bridges of understanding between the United States and Hungary. They serve as regional venues where embassy officers, employees, and visiting speakers from the United States have the opportunity to meet people in places far from our usual haunts in Budapest and experience Hungary outside of the capital city, while also introducing or discussing elements of U.S. culture. And as of today, Szeged serves as such a location for the communities of Szeged and the Southeast.
Hungary now has five American Corners, with American Corner Szeged joining a network of four American Corners in Pecs, Veszprem, Debrecen and Budapest. And I am happy to say that all the other Corners directors are here with us today to celebrate: Zsuzsanna Nagy from Pecs, Viktoria Toth from Debrecen, Boglarka Falussy from Veszprem, and Valeria Szabo from Budapest!
And I am confident that Judit Gera, the new director here in Szeged, will soon make this brand new American Corner a vivid and lively community space for students and the general public in Szeged as well. Welcome, Judit!
I’d like to take a minute to tell you how proud I am of the work the directors are doing. The American Corner directors are creative, innovative colleagues, committed to their jobs of building bridges between our nations and explaining America to Hungarian audiences. The Department of State has recognized Hungary’s Corners with numerous awards and special grants over the past year. In total, the directors organized over 500 programs last year, to which they attracted more than ten thousand people! These activities include a national drama festival in Veszprem, a national debate competition and a leadership camp for girls in Debrecen, a series on entrepreneurship and innovation in Budapest, and video production training for the documentary filmmakers of tomorrow in Pecs! We eagerly anticipate Szeged’s contributions, which will include workshops exploring the uses for 3D printing and much more! Don’t forget to follow the Facebook pages of each Corner to receive their full schedules!
American Corner Szeged has sprung to life as a cooperation between the Municipality of Szeged, the University of Szeged and the American Embassy. I am very grateful to both Mayor Botka and Rector Szabo for being such excellent partners in this joint endeavor by providing financial support and a host institution for the American Corner.
I would also like to thank Deputy Rector Professor – and alumna of the U.S.-Hungarian Fulbright program — Katalin Nagy of the University of Szeged for her unequivocal and unwavering support in making this Corner a reality. And finally, I would like to commend AGORA director Hedi Orban for being such a great host for the Corner and for problem-solving all the technical and logistical glitches to make it look like it does today.
Szeged is a vibrant university town with a strong cultural heritage. I am sure that this American Corner will add to the rich cultural fabric of this beautiful city and I’m certain that the people of both Hungary and the United States will benefit from this cooperation.
So please join me in toasting the reason for this evening: To the success of the American Corner Szeged! Thank you and enjoy the rest of the evening!