Remarks by Chargé d’Affaires, a.i. David J. Kostelancik
in Honor of the 25th Anniversary of the Hungarian-American Fulbright Commission
May 19, 2017
Fulbright Executive Director Karoly Jokay,
Deputy State Secretary Pacsay-Tomassich,
Esteemed Members of the Fulbright Board,
The Tireless Fulbright Team,
Hungarian and American Alumni of the Fulbright Program,
Family and Friends of Fulbright,
First of all, I’d like to wish the U.S.-Hungarian Binational Fulbright Commission a very happy 25th birthday! Congratulations, Fulbright Hungary and boldog huszonötödik születésnapot!
Second, I’d like to take a moment to thank all of the Commission’s supporters and partners, most especially the amazing team who keep the Commission running every day. I’d also like to recognize the Ministry of Human Capacities, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Hungary’s excellent universities, its world renown academic and cultural institutions, and of course, the warm and gracious Hungarian people. Thank you for nurturing and supporting the students and researchers who travel to the United States and thank you for being such excellent hosts to the Americans who travel here!
Finally, I’d like to recognize all the alumni (and the soon-to-be-alumni) – both Hungarian and American – of the Fulbright Program, especially those who have joined us tonight! I’d point out that although the binational Commission is 25 years old, Fulbright exchanges with Hungary started as early as 1978, long before the Commission. The success and the visible contributions to society of those first exchange participants paved the way for the expanded role of Fulbright after the regime change.
You are members of a truly impressive society, joining an elite club of top achievers in the humanities, sciences, and the arts for the past 70 years. Since the Fulbright program started in 1946, there have been more than 370,000 “Fulbrighters” from over 160 countries.
When J. William Fulbright introduced his bill “for the promotion of international goodwill through exchange of students in the fields of education, culture, and science,” he gave us something more than an exchange program that carries his name. He understood from his own experience as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford how face-to-face, in-person exchange can change perceptions and fight prejudice, how sharing our cultures can shape – and re-shape — the world.
And he wanted others to benefit from this same experience and this legacy lives on. To understand other cultures better, to contribute to deeper understanding between countries is something we still need and in this day – today maybe even more than 25 years ago. Today, Fulbright scholars might speak 160 different languages, but in each, “Fulbright” has come to mean “giving back” and “pass it on.”
Since the first exchanges in the late 1970s and through the first 25 years of the binational Commission, Fulbright Hungary has always shared in these goals and I am confident that the next 25 years of leadership, learning, and empathy will achieve the hopeful future envisioned by Senator Fulbright and the 370,000 – and counting – Fulbrighters who carry on his legacy.
Még egyszer gratulálok és happy birthday, Fulbright!