RETURN - U.S. Alumni in Hungary Retreat (event archive)
In January 2015 alumni organizations of young Hungarian professionals who have returned home after their experiences in the United States rebooted the tradition of an annual „RETURN – U.S. Alumni in Hungary” conference. Following the success of the 3rd annual conference, the 1st RETURN Alumni Retreat was held in Chateau Bano in Felsomocsolad between April 10-12.
The aim of the retreat was to promote cooperation and communication between the alumni organizations in Hungary, to support the reintegration of returnees, bridging between members and sharing information on projects of individual participants. The theme of the event was Better Together, symbolizing the participants goal about restoring Hungarian Community by building bridging social capital.
Most of the alumni groups was represented in this retreat: Calasanctius Training Program, Common Sense Society, Fulbright Association, Hungarian American Coalition Congressional Internship Program, Hungarian American Enterprises Scholarship Fund, Institute of International Education and IvyPlus. We also had the pleasure to meet new organizations and their members like David Ginn (Danube Church ) and Rich Leary (Cru ).
The first formal program was ‘Image of Hungary in the World’ group discussion moderated by Common Sense Society director Emese Böröcz. The discussion provided a good overview about the collapse and revival of the Hungarian Community. In CSS’s blog, observers of Hungary (both inside and out) present their thoughts on current politics, economic trends, and the state of society and culture at all levels. The participants could share their thoughts with each other about the image of Hungary from many points of view because there were not just the Return alumnies but also native Americans who were living in Hungary for more than a decade and also who had just moved to Hungary in less than a year.
Besides them we had the privilege to enjoy the remarkable company of János Horváth, “The Most Outstanding RETURNer” of our event. János Horváth (born 1921) is a Hungarian economist and politician, member of the National Assembly from 1945 to 1947 and from 1998 to 2014. János had been the oldest Member of Parliament since 2003. He was also the youngest member of the Hungarian Parliament in 1945. His outstanding experiences and history of life taught us an abundance about our country’s foreign judgement and about Hungary’s prospects as well.
Saturday afternoon started with another group discussion moderated by Civic Enterprises co-founder Márton Aichelburg about social capital, that social networks have value and social contacts affect the productivity of individuals and groups. As a part of this session we heard a presentation from Senior Mentor Program director Balázs Horváth. Then on the Have-Need Forum all the participants shared their free resources and/or freshly launched projects.
We had a very successful meeting in an extremely beautiful surrounding. For more efficient continuation the organizers asked participants to provide feedback about the weekend. Beside the very high ratings there is a clear aspect which can be developed. The majority of the returners would like to have more formal sessions, specific programs and more information about the alumni organization’s ongoing projects.
To sum up, these kind of meetings have their usefulness and gives more information to improve the community of RETURN.