It is with great pleasure that we report, that after a three year hiatus, we were successful at organizing the 27th Students Without Boundaries program this summer. One hundred students who live as Hungarian minorities in countries surrounding Hungary arrived from war-torn Transcarpathia (Kárpátalja) Ukraine, Transylvania (Erdély) in Romania, Slovakia and Voivodina in Serbia, along with a leaders from Canada. Some of these students have never, were it not for this programme, travelled outside of their small towns and villages or had the opportunity to meet other students who, like themselves, live in minority status. Students Without Boundaries, as one of the leaders so succinctly stated, continues to provide a “safe haven” for these students, a place where they can find themselves through meeting other like-minded students. This year, we saw the incredible strength of the program and how it changes attitudes.
On the first day, when we heard the leaders talk about how life-changing the camp was, we were a bit curious and asked ourselves: what was it that made this camp so special? Now, on the 10th day of the camp, just thinking about going home on Monday, my throat is dry, I’m getting stomach cramps and fighting back tears. I never thought that these 12 days would have such an impact on my life. I was able to meet so many people with whom I have so much in common, who understand the advantages and disadvantages of my life,who accept me for who I am, who don’t think it’s strange that I speak with a dialect. I feel like this camp in my home. My camp mates and I are on so completely on the same wavelength that that is incredible. Thank you for this great gift! (Lara Majoros, Voivodina, Serbia)
Each year more and more of our student leaders, many of them who were participants five and ten years ago, carry out the bulk of the planning, organization and execution of the program. This has been an amazing process to see: as those who took part several years ago are the ones to best realize what an amazing impact this program has had on their lives. They, in turn, want to ensure that others also enjoy the benefits of the program. These leaders are our coordinators in the countries from where the participants originate. Unemployment is very high in the regions where they live, and there are many students who come from single parent homes and where the father has left to earn money in another country.
Over 3,500 students have now completed Students Without Boundaries and become part of the Rakoczi Family Circle, which continues to provide a network of support for these young people. The creation of this support network is one of the reasons why Students Without Boundaries was awarded the first ever Charlemagne Youth Prize by the European Parliament in 2008. We know from letters we receive from earlier participants that this program has amazing “ripple effect” in counteracting negative and extremist attitudes in the communities where these students come from and in empowering young women (two-thirds of our participants are teenaged girls) to believe in themselves. We know that during the twelve day program, the interaction of the students opens hearts and minds and broaden horizons.
The work of the Foundation was again widely recognized. Everyone – donors, volunteers, leaders – may take great pride in their involvement with the work of the Foundation. Our work continues throughout the year with the well-established scholarship program of the Foundation. Since 2018, through your generosity, we have awarded over $203,000 Can dollars in scholarships to deserving students. Special thanks to Dr. Eva Tomory, the head of our scholarship committee for her dedicated work. These are students who are members of the Rakoczi Family Circle and have been accepted to institutions of higher learning, both at universities and technical schools. Without our assistance, most of these young people would not be able to continue their education.
In addition to the ongoing support of refugee programs in war torn Ukraine, the Foundation continues to support a school lunch program at the Dajka Gábor Middle School in Ungvár (Uzhhorod, Transcarpathia, Ukraine). Because of the war in Ukraine, the number of students who receive hot lunches from day-to-day fluctuates between 20 to 70 per day, depending on the number of air raid sirens during the previous night. There continues to be such a great need at the school that our Board of Directors have voted to continue to support this school lunch program.
On July 13, 2023, the Canadian Embassy in Budapest hosted the book launch of the Hungarian translation of Driven to Succeed (Hajtás a Sikerért) published by the Rákóczi Foundation. The biography of the founding owner of the Linamar, Frank Hasenfratz, was originally written in English by Rod McQueen and Susan M. Papp and published by Dundurn Press. Hasenfratz was a refugee from Hungary in 1956, he later built a successful automotive parts manufacturing company in Canada that became internationally renown and presently has branch plants around the world. Canada’s Ambassador to Hungary, H.E. Caroline Charette and Hungary’s Ambassador to Canada, Dr. Mária Vass-Salazar were both present, as were many important public figures and businessmen. Linda Hasenfratz, daughter of Frank Hasenfratz, and CEO of the company at present, also participated in the event on-line.
It is a special pleasure to announce that not only the Students Without Boundaries but also the Rákóczi Foundation is celebrating a landmark anniversary this year. In 2023, the Rákóczi Foundation, one of the most important civil organizations in the North American diaspora, has been organizing and funding important programs for young people for seven decades. A special celebration is planned for this anniversary on September 22, 2023 (Friday) starting at 18:00 with a Rákóczi Gala event. Tickets are available in advance!
On behalf of the young people who benefit from your generosity, the Board of Directors, and more than thirtyleaders, coordinators and volunteers who organized and led this year’s program, we extend heartfelt thanks for your continued generous support!
Dr. Susan Papp-Aykler Zoltán Csadi
President Exec. Director