The Friends of Hungary Foundation awarded the Friend of Hungary Award for the sixth time in 2023. Established in 2016, the prize was first handed out in May 2017.
Pál Schmitt, former President of the Republic, gave a speech entitled “Hungary is a sporting nation” on the second day of the annual conference. In his address he emphasized that Hungarians are a sports nation, and this notion is an integral part of the Hungarian identity. This is something to be proud of, the 1968 and 1972 Olympic fencing champion stressed. He recalled that every Olympics in which a Hungarian competitor has taken part has produced a gold medal. Hungary is the most successful nation at the Olympics in terms of the number of gold medals won per million inhabitants, tied with Finland, he noted.
Pál Schmitt. Photo: Hungary Today
Schmitt added that this alone would make you think that Hungary is a true sporting nation, but 30% of Hungarian children today do not play any sport at all. However, the government has recognized this and has set goals to make Hungary a high achiever in sports again. Daily physical education has been introduced into the curriculum, and by the end of 8th grade of primary school, all pupils are expected to be able to swim at least 200 meters. The former president also emphasized that sport is also important for building community and making friends who can spread our good name to the world.
This year’s winners of the Friend of Hungary Award
Prof. BÉLA BOLLOBÁS
Prof. Béla Bollobás, the Széchenyi Prize-winning mathematician, earned his PhD at Cambridge and then became a lecturer at the university. He has taught for over fifty years and his research is extremely diverse: he has worked on combinatorics, random graphs, functional analysis, isoperimetric inequalities, and additive number theory. He is the author of more than 450 scientific articles and 10 books, and has taught more than 50 PhD students.
In addition to his academic work, the Friend of Hungary Award is given for his decades-long support for young Hungarians studying at Cambridge. He has won scholarships for a number of Hungarian students in the United Kingdom and the United States, in the hope that these students will enrich Hungarian academic life when they return home.
Dr. JUDIT KEREKES
Dr. Judit Kerekes, mathematician, educator, scout. She was invited to New York, where she accepted a teaching position and stayed. She chaired the Department of Mathematics at the City University of New York Collage of Staten Island for 15 years. She has organized several conferences and provided opportunities for Hungarian scientists and professors to present themselves in the United States.
Dr. Kerekes also stayed active with teacher education in Hungary, knowing that Hungary was very good at teaching logical thinking, while the U.S. was very good at building students’ confidence, teaching them to be independent, and putting theory into practice.
In addition to her work, she has always been active in the Hungarian American community: general secretary of the American Hungarian Federation, trustee of the Americans for Hungarians Foundation, scout commissioner of the Association of Hungarian Scouts Abroad, founder and co-chair of the Hungarian American Schools Meeting, and member of the Diaspora Council. She was an actress and vice president of the Hungarian American Theater for two decades, and a camp director and principal of the Summer Hungarian International School Camp for a decade.
Dr. Judit Kerekes. Photo: Hungary Today
József Komlóssy was born on March 9, 1936. In 1962, he became a civil engineer in Switzerland. In 1996, he closed his planning office in order to devote himself entirely to his most important goal in life: to serve the universal Hungarian people.
From the mid-1980s, he became increasingly involved in international minority protection issues. He was instrumental in getting the UN Human Rights Committee to condemn Romania for the demolition of villages, and as secretary of the International Transylvania Committee, he organized aid shipments from Western Europe to Transylvania and Moldova after the fall of the Ceauşescu regime.
In 2004, he was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary by the Hungarian government, and in 2016, he was awarded the Hungarian Order of Merit, civilian category. In the past decades, he has published about 80 articles, studies, and lectures. This year saw the publication of a volume based on his memoirs, entitled Time Has Caught Up with Me.
József Komlóssy. Photo: Hungary Today
HUNGARIAN YOUTH ASSOCIATION
The Hungarian Youth Association was founded three years ago to represent the interests of Hungarian students studying in the diaspora and to promote their cultural ties to Hungary. Thanks to its extensive international network, the organization is represented in more than 13 countries and 80 universities, reaching more than 7,000 students. HYA’s organizational team currently consists of 85 volunteers who are themselves students of universities abroad.
Their activities include: nationwide information sessions about study abroad opportunities that are also accessible to disadvantaged students, networking among students studying abroad and diaspora communities, and organizing community-building and cultural activities. On their website, they have created a free, country-specific brochure to help young Hungarians explore their international study options.
Martin Pászthy and Bálint Karagich on behalf of the Hungarian Youth Association. Photo: Hungary Today
The event featured a presentation by Balázs Gulyás, President of the Hungarian Research Network, the HUN-REN. In his speech, he analyzed the current state of Hungarian research and science. One of his main objectives was to encourage young people to choose a career in science.
Featured Image: Hungary Today