IN CONTINUATION of its survey of honorary consuls of the Slovak Republic to the United States, begun in The other Slovak nation, Volume 10, Issue 31, The Slovak Spectator spoke to Joseph T Senko, honorary consul of Pennsylvania
The Slovak Spectator (TSS): Do you feel that the Slovak communities abroad are unified enough? What should be the main focus of their activities?
Joseph T Senko (JTS): I do not feel that the Slovak communities in the US are unified enough. As a result, less is being accomplished. There are so many Slovak organisations existing in the United States that they are competing with one another for members and programmes. Many of their goals are redundant. If they would unite, they would be much more productive in achieving their causes. For example, I am a member of the Slovak World Congress, Slovak League of America, Slovak Catholic Federation, Friends of Slovakia, and seven different Slovak Fraternal benefit societies. These are all national organisations. In addition, there are hundreds of local Slovak organisations throughout the country.
The main focus of their activities should be similar to those given to me by the Slovak Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a Slovak Honorary Consul of Pennsylvania. Article 15 states that I should support the development of economic, trade, cultural, scientific, academic, and sports relations between the Slovak Republic and the United States.
TSS: Do you feel that the Slovak expatriates have been using their potential to improve the country's image abroad?
JTS:To a limited extent - some of the Slovak-Americans have been promoting the country's image, particularly through the news media. The publicity of recent economic gains in Slovakia through the acquisition of several automotive plants has helped tremendously. Unfortunately, the majority of Slovak-Americans have never visited Slovakia to see firsthand the history, the beauty, the friendly people, and the rapid economic progress that Slovakia has made in its 11 years of existence. Many of the Slovak-Americans picture Slovakia as described by their ancestors - people walking around in folk costumes singing songs written 100 years ago.
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?
JTS: Because there are so many bodies trying to represent the Slovak American community individually, they have lost their strength. Even if they don't merge, it would be a great step in the right direction to form a conclave to help promote Slovakia.
TSS: What issues are currently of interest to Slovaks living in the United States?
JTS: The two most frequent questions that I get from Slovak Americans are how to go about doing a genealogy search on their ancestors in Slovakia, and how their relatives in Slovakia can obtain a US visa to visit them here in the US.
23. Aug 2004 at 0:00 | Beata Balogová