Alumni testimonials
2015

“You learn throughout the program that no matter how far away a Hungarian is from another Hungarian, they will always be connected by their roots. I have made many new friends on this journey and plan on meeting up with them in the future. These lifetime friendships were a result of the program's existence.” Andras Boros, 23, Ohio

“It is a great way to connect with your Hungarian heritage and understand where you come from. I finally got to see the country where my family lived and understand their experience. Most Americans do not have any connection to their countries of heritage. Reconnect Hungary is a unique opportunity for young Americans to gain an understanding of where their family came from, and to know that the heritage is living and is there to be experienced if they so choose.” Cassie Chesley, 25, Florida

"This trip meant the world to me and my brother. Discussing the trip with my Hungarian family and sharing pictures and stories was incredible; it made me so proud of my culture. Every young Hungarian-American should get to have this experience, but the only way to do that is to raise funds and awareness." Ava Cramp, 22, Ohio

“It is an incredible way to not only understand the history of our country and people, but also to learn about life in modern-day Hungary. I now have seen first-hand where my family came from, and have a much deeper understanding of many aspects of my heritage thanks to this program. It is essential for anyone to have an understanding and pride in their cultural identity. This program gives young people like me a moving and educational experience that will never be forgotten.” Zack Cramp, 25, Ohio

“This program is very informative and so exciting. I really felt like I was a Hungarian living in Hungary. I never felt like a tourist (except when I asked a waiter to split the bill). Thanks to this program, I was able to reconnect with my Hungarian roots as well as meet other Hungarian-Americans. I now feel much more confident in my Hungarian identity.” Breana Donnelly, 19, North Carolina

“This is a fantastic way to experience a part of your heritage the way a Hungarian (rather than a tourist) might. You get a diverse set of experiences with plenty of opportunity to shape your own experience. I was able to connect for the very first time with my Hungarian family, who I remain in contact with. I was able to gain an appreciation for the history of Hungary, and how I, through my grandfather, fit into that story. As young adults, most of us are at a proverbial crossroads. We have the energy and time to travel (at least during the summer), but typically very little money. Between flying, finding accommodations, figuring out what to do and actually doing it, a trip even approaching the quality and scope of ReConnect Hungary is not generally possible. Moreover, ReConnect gives us the opportunity to experience non-touristy aspects of Hungary, to have an idea of what it may be like to live there someday.” Katie Esze, 24, Wisconsins

“Previously, Hungary was the land of my parents, and while it was important to me, now I feel that it is as much a part of me as it is my parents. This trip gave me the opportunity to experience Hungary as more than just a tourist, but rather as a native. Having all these amazing experiences bonded us all and we made memories for life. By having experiences like the roundtable and other discussions with politicians, I was able to grasp Hungary and its many stands/values today. I was able to feel like an active part of Hungarian society. The experience is rewarding to the point where it is honorable to give back to the program and help it grow. This experience should be shared with as many people as possible.” Jimmy Fogel, 18, Michigan

“It is an excellent cultural immersion program that grants participants unique opportunities to learn about the culture, economy, and politics of Hungary. Not only does the program expose participants to the beauty of the country, it also unveils the unique perspectives of the ethno-geographic region as well as the lingering ideologies of past government and economic systems. The people are great, the chaperones are incredible, and the agenda is so varied!” Peter Fogel, 20, Michigan

"It was absolutely unreal visiting my family in Szentpéterfa and seeing the source of my heritage and being welcomed with open arms. The trip gave me an incredible new perspective of cultural identity and how enriching it can be in one’s life. It has also provided me with a more accurate, new world view of Hungary as opposed to the old world view shared by my relatives. The best part of the journey is the connections you make with other young people who are of Hungarian descent. It is awesome to be able to relate to people who grew up in North American but who identify, at least in some capacity, as Hungarians. I will forever be grateful for the experiences I’ve had here, and feel renewed by a new sense of belonging to both the small and specific community of ReConnect Hungary and the greater/broader community of Hungarians living around the world. This has truly been the trip of a lifetime. " Michelle Geosits, 22, Pennsylvania

“This was a very enriching experience, both for better understanding modern Hungary as well as how history has shaped its character. I do believe that I understand what it means to be Hungarian more than before. When we toured certain places, I imagined my grandparents walking in those streets, and as a result I feel much closer to my Hungarian identity now.” Karen Horovitz, 26, California

"This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to learn about your heritage in the most unique and exciting way. You'll connect to things within you that you didn't even realize were there because you are Hungarian. Being able to meet up with family I had never met in my life was the most exhilarating experience that I wouldn't change for the world. I learned how to cook, dance, and speak (some) Hungarian, which allowed me to finally feel connected to the roots I thought that I had lost. Having similar philosophies to Hungarians reinforced this feeling as well. I got a chance to understand the amazing journey our ancestors went through. This program is the best way for this knowledge to be conveyed and understood." Meghan Ince, 22, New Jersey

“My Hungarian identity was reinforced when I spoke my non-native Hungarian and got such amazing reactions from locals. Once they knew why I was studying the language, it opened up a door. It's like meeting long-lost relatives. It's not a simple task to simply embrace your Hungarian heritage and hop on a plane and try to immerse yourself within the culture. ReConnect Hungary offers a medium with irreplaceable opportunities that could seriously alter the path in one's life. I'm already thinking of how I could possibly get a job in Budapest, and incorporate it into my major of Linguistics.” Josh Sturgess, 19, Ohio

"It’s an opportunity you can’t pass up. Learn more about the country of your origin, its past and present, and how it changed. You’ll be amazed how just being exposed to a new climate and culture will open your mind to new things. Most young Americans don’t have such a strong connection to their heritage as their European counterparts, but that’s all the more reason to learn more about what little bits they do know. Like me, I have a strongly Eastern and Northern European heritage but I don’t know specifics, except that the Hungarian bit of me is the largest because I grew up knowing my grandpa came from Hungary. After this trip, I feel a lot more connected to my late grandpa. To give this opportunity to me and people like me is priceless. Funding ReConnect would allow others to enjoy the same great experience I had. " Lauren Kis, 24, Ohio

“The most moving experience for me was visiting my family in Tarján and seeing where my grandpa grew up and where he lived in Budapest.” Natalia Slattery, 20, Massachussetts

"The trip put me in touch with the Hungary that is alive today—not just the Hungary I knew through my grandparents and stories from relatives, but a real, living country. For the first time, I felt a personal relationship with the country instead of hearing about the one my grandparents left. It felt like home. ReConnect Hungary showed me a new side to a country I had always loved but never really known, and helped me understand myself better, too. Best part: discovering other people who share this heritage and the quirks that come with it. I love that I'm now part of a community of young Hungarian-Americans, and that after the trip my roots keep spreading further in this community. I loved trying to pick up as much Hungarian as I could and trying to blend in—feeling like I belonged. It was so important to meet other people who shared a Hungarian identity. As Hungarian-Americans, we often only have a relationship to Hungary through other people—our relatives, and for some lucky ones, the Hungarian community in America. I did not grow up with any kind of Hungarian community, and I didn't realize until I took the trip how incredible it feels to be connected to other people my age with Hungarian heritage. " Lauryn McCarter, 26, New York

“It is a great experience that you are not going to get any other way. It’s a unique trip with people your own age and with the same heritage, focused on allowing you to grow closer to your history. The program is specifically built to let you (re)discover your ancestry and discover what it is to be Hungarian. The guides are all amazing, and being around other Hungarian Americans with similar stories was incredible. I had the opportunity to learn a lot about my grandparents and their motives to leave Hungary and move to the U.S., which was really important to me. ” Kathleen Muckenhirn, 25, Connecticut

"This is a wonderful program that reconnected me to Hungary and opened up all kinds of opportunities. I now know so much more about many aspects of Hungary, and I feel more connected. Your roots and heritage are important to remember. Hungary has so much to offer young people, from business startups to cool places. " Ali Petrulis, 22, Ohio

“It's a fantastic way to not just see Hungary but get immersed in the culture in a way you wouldn't even think of had you just come by yourself. Not only do you do fun sightseeing activities, you get to talk to professionals, politicians, ex-pats, and see an array of ways people live in Hungary. Growing up, the only Hungarians I knew were my parents' age and older, so it's nice to meet people your age who share something so important to you. It offered a sense of belonging to a community that I didn't feel before, not just by introducing me to other young Hungarians but also by teaching me about things I wouldn't have learned as a tourist. I didn't grow up speaking Hungarian so I always felt like I was on the periphery of this part of my life. Though I still don't speak much Hungarian, the trip was an incredible growing experience I needed to feel the inclusion I had been seeking. It's not a party trip like packaged trips geared towards students; it's a cultural immersion, a chance to learn about something you might not have otherwise learned about while still having a ball. Even if you don't go home and start following Hungarian traditions or making Hungarian food all the time, I think it's important to know something about your heritage and where your ancestors came from. It's easy to assimilate and become sort of milquetoast when it comes to your heritage in the U.S., so it's important to at least be aware. Plus I think travel just betters people!” Alexandra Poka, 26, Califiornia

"It was not only an excellent way to introduce young Hungarian-Americans to Hungary and Hungarian culture, but it also introduced the participants to opportunities that arise once the bond between oneself and their culture is made. The friendships and memories that are made, the opportunities this trip introduces you to—this program is truly more than a birthright program. It is a door to amazing opportunities, experiences, and knowledge, all in a fun and caring environment. I loved having the opportunity to speak with a variety of people; from government officials to Roma youths, and I loved learning new information from both. I learned about current issues pressing Hungary today. I learned about the communities within Hungary/Budapest (Jewish & Roma), I learned about Hungarians living outside of Hungary's border and their lifestyle… With this program, the opportunities are endless and numerous, be it interning in Hungary or New York, attending universities in Hungary, or working within the program, this journey continues to give back even after returning home—making it a completely unique and amazing birthright program." Csenge Santa, 19, Alberta

“It’s important to make this journey possible for other young people because it is important to expose people to their heritage and let them learn about themselves. ReConnect Hungary has done this for me. Before joining this program, I had minimum exposure to the Hungarian culture. Months after this experience, I have found a new side of me that would have never been found without the help of ReConnect Hungary.” Clauber Santos, 24, Hawai’i

"The reason I recommend this program to other young Hungarian-Americans is that the program introduces you to a unique blend of culture and scenery. Experiencing Hungary with a group of participants with similar interests allows you to share your thoughts and supplement your personal experience." Jonathan Seidman, 26, Virginia

“Everyone should be able to experience ReConnect Hungary for themselves! For most people, this was their first time going to Hungary, and I don’t know if they would have had an opportunity otherwise if this program didn't exist. We need to show Hungary that there is a big Hungarian-American presence that wants to be more involved with the country.” Rose Seidman, 23, Virginia

"It was interesting learning about my heritage as I was previously quite out of touch. I really was able to appreciate the suffering my family faced under the communist regime." Andrea Simonits, 20, Ontario

“This program really does reconnect you with your Hungarian roots. If you are interested in delving deeper into the culture and learning more about your homeland in a way that wouldn’t otherwise be possible, this program is definitely for you. Being fully immersed in the culture in a natural way, mingling with the locals that gave us inside knowledge of the city, and meeting other Hungarians from North America with similar backgrounds were the best parts of the journey. We are the future of North American Hungarians. In order to keep the Hungarian traditions alive, we need the opportunity to experience them first-hand. Coming back from this trip, I can without a doubt say that I witnessed the Hungarian culture first-hand, and I can now spread my knowledge to other Hungarians here in Canada. ” Erika Kovacs, 22, Ontario

"For many of the second and third generation Hungarians that this program supports, such as myself, participating in the ReConnect Hungary program is a pivotal part of realizing the role that Hungarian heritage plays in your identity. ReConnect gives you a Hungarian community, which I and many others did not have prior to this experience. The spirit of the program is to pay it forward—each time a group participates in the trip and has this profound experience, they create a ripple effect, telling their Hungarian friends and relatives about it and strengthening everyone's investment in the community overall." Eva Stanton, 19, New York

“You get to experience first-hand what it means to be Hungarian. You get to actually go where your family came from and even meet family—something that may have never happened for me without the ReConnect Hungary program. However, the social aspect of being part of a group of other young people also wanting to learn about their heritage and culture ended up being a more important aspect than I had realized. One thing I found in common with all the other participants is that this is important to all of us on a very deep level, and although we all had many reasons, at our core we knew that this is a part of who we are. On this trip we learned a lot about Hungary, but most important I think is that through our experiences together, we made strong connections with each other and we also learned a lot more about ourselves, which I think will prove to make an even stronger foundation for our future. I very badly want to go back to Hungary; it is now one of my very important goals in life. ” Julian Kerekes, 21, Nova Scotia

thank you! köszönjük!


Read what our 2014, 2013 and 2012 alumni say about the program!