As further evidence of the growing connections between Georgia and Hungary, Ambassador Szapáry made his first trip to Atlanta. John E. Parkerson, Jr., honorary consul of Hungary for the Southeastern United States was instrumental in realizing his visit.

Ambassador György Szapáry made his first trip to Atlanta on Friday, February 17 and Saturday, February 18. John E. Parkerson, Jr., honorary consul of Hungary for the Southeastern United States, president of the World Trade Center Atlanta (WTC), and director of International Programs for Clayton State University, has been working closely with the embassy in Washington to arrange meetings for the Ambassador, including “Hungary Day in Georgia” proclamations from the State of Georgia.

To preserve their rich culture, the Hungarian community of Georgia started a new tradition in 2010 with the Hungarian Carnival Ball, or Farsang. This year, they have organized the Third Hungarian Ball on Feb. 18. The Hungarian Ball, which was held at The Carlyle House in Norcross, 173 S.Peachtree St., starting at 7 p.m., was organized by the Hungarian Community Church of Georgia, the Honorary Consulate of Hungary in Southeast U.S., and The Hungarian Meetup Group in Atlanta.

On Friday afternoon, February 17, the Georgia House of Representatives declared February 18 as an official Hungary Day in Georgia. The Ambassador opened the Hungarian Ball as guest of honor and guests enjoyed folk dance performance, live music, traditional farsang acting, socializing, raffles, and doing whatever else Hungarians do when they celebrate Carnival. The Hungarian Ball also served as a fundraising function for the colorful Hungarian cultural activities and educational programs.

“With the proclamation of the Hungary Day, the State of Georgia sends a clear message to Hungarians and non-Hungarians alike that everybody can play an integral role in the life and community of Georgia,” says Parkerson. “It is a special privilege to accept the invitation to serve as a main patron of the Third Annual Hungarian Ball, or Farsang. Georgia is home to a remarkable Hungarian community that, with this third Farsang, continues a now well-established Georgia tradition. I am proud to be included in the Hungarian-American community and to have this opportunity to participate in the Third Annual Hungarian Ball.”

Clayton State University, which has many ties to the nation of Hungary, was a sponsor of the Friday, February 17 reception for the Ambassador. The reception was held at 4:30 p.m. at the City Club of Buckhead in Atlanta. Clayton State President Dr. Thomas J. Hynes also attended the reception.

In addition, the Ambassador spoke to Clayton State MBA students at the World Trade Center Atlanta on Friday, Feb. 17, at 1 p.m. Clayton State and Kennesaw State University students will be taking an MBA international business study abroad trip to Hungary and Austria from March 2 to 11, 2012. All but two days of that trip are in Hungary, and two of the days in Hungary will be hosted by Clayton State’s Hungarian partner institution, the University of Pannonia in Veszprem, Hungary. The Ambassador’s WTC Atlanta talk was to a pre-trip group of all 20 MBA students from Clayton State and Kennesaw who will be going on the study abroad.

For many people in the world, United States of America means the country of freedom and opportunities; a country where many ethnic, racial and religious groups can live together in peace with one another as good neighbors. This multicultural society does not weaken -- it strengthens the country. The Hungarians are also part of this multicultural society. Throughout history, many Hungarians had to leave their home country because of economic or political turmoil. The United States opened its gates to Hungarian immigrants during several difficult periods. Skilled Hungarian laborers and renowned professionals came to the US because of its freedom to pursue new careers and to raise their families.

Thus, today about one a half million Hungarians live in the U.S.A.; and several thousands of them, a relatively small but growing community, live in Georgia. Is the Hungary Day important to Georgia? Yes, it is. Business, educational and cultural ties between the state of Georgia and the country of Hungary are growing. Hungary, an EU member and NATO ally country of 10 million people in Central Europe, is today a truly important partner of Georgia.

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