IN A BRIEF survey, The Slovak Spectator asked honorary consuls of the Slovak Republic to the United States about the state and pulse of the Slovak ex-patriate community in the US.
The Slovak Spectator (TSS): Do you feel that the Slovak communities abroad are unified enough? What should be the main focus of their activities?
John J Luknic, Slovak honorary consul in Minneapolis (JJL): Actually we could be more unified. There is a generational disunity among the established Slovak Americans and the relatively recent post-1989 group. Some of the disunity is naturally caused by the age difference, but it is deeper than that. The newcomers are well educated, young, and mostly interested in getting established and living the good life in an environment where they see opportunities. There is also a deeper psychological difference: The older Slovaks came to America for financial or political reasons. The common ground is cultural activities, sports, and looking at Slovakia with nostalgia and as a motherland that gave them identity and values.
Robert J Petrik, Slovak honorary consul in Florida (RP): I do not think the Slovak communities in the USA are not unified enough, but they can always do better. The main focus should be to maintain their Slovak identity.
TSS: Do you feel that the Slovak ex-patriates have been using their potential to improve the country's image abroad?
JJL: Yes, very much so. Others judge us by who we are. A well-educated Slovak, free of petty prejudices and full of optimism, is the best representative of Slovakia.
TSS: Do you feel that the bodies representing the Slovak community in the US have done a good job representing the interests of the community?
JJL: If you mean by community the local community here in the United States, the answer is both yes and no. Cultural events, such as dinners with typical Slovak menus, or dances and parties get a significant level of participation. Discussions about issues such as the future of the Visegrad Group [an economic and political association including Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary], for example, will get a relatively small participation.
TSS: What issues are currently of interest to Slovaks living in the United States?
Barbara Pivnicka, honorary consul of the Slovak Republic in California:The Slovaks I interact with are interested in the current state of Slovak business, politics, and culture. Many follow Slovak news with great interest. Generally, most seem more interested in understanding and experiencing US culture, business, and trends.
As honorary consul, I have found the Slovaks here to be interested in the expansion of trade and cultural activities, and eager to link with programmes and organisations that represent a central and eastern European point of view. Most particularly, many are active in the Silicon Valley high-tech and bio-tech enterprises, principally due to a strong background in math, science, and engineering. There has been much interest in EU-related activities.
RP: I think two issues are currently of interest: repatriation of property and dual citizenship.
16. Aug 2004 at 0:00 | Beata Balogová