Slovenes from the
Raba and the Mura
Region in the USA
exhibit about the Slovenes from the Raba and the Mura Region in Bethlehem, PA
was opened with a festive ceremony at the Slovene Centre Lipa
(Szentgotthárd) on March 9.
The official part of the
event started with a performance of the local Slovene choir, which sang a
selection of Slovene songs. Subsequent to this musical introduction to the
topic, the president of the Slovene minority in Hungary, Mr József
Hirnök, welcomed the guests and introduced us as exhibitors.
Afterwards, Ms Marianna
Szukics, the chief editor of
the Slovene weekly journal “Porabje”, briefly outlined the
content of the exhibit in Slovene and Hungarian and told the visitors who we
were. Following Mrs Szukics’ short introduction Tibor rose to speak and
explained in more detail the interested audience the motivation, the content
and the intention of the exhibit in Hungarian. As a high representative the
Slovene ambassador from Budapest,
Mr Ladislav Lipič, was among the visitors as well. He was talking to us
after Tibor’s speech and congratulated us on our work.
After the official opening
of the exhibit the numerous guests had the opportunity to look around the
exhibit and to discuss with each
other and with us.
Subsequent to the opening
Tibor was interviewed by the local TV station Gotthárd TV and
by the Hungarian television channel MTV and asked about the motives
and the structure of the exhibit. Furthermore, MTV wanted to know from
Joël’s which personal motivations made him work on such an exhibit.
Excerpt from Tibor’s
About two years ago, the two of us started dedicating ourselves more
intensively to the history and culture of the Slovenes from the Raba Region.
On the one hand, because the history, culture and tradition of the Slovenes
in South West Hungary is very interesting and on the other hand, because
Tibor can learn more about his own Slovene roots in the process. We have
created a website about this very topic as well. Since many Slovenes from the
Raba and the Mura Region had emigrated to Bethlehem, PA (USA) around the turn
of the century, we considered flying to the U.S. ourselves in order to see
what the city is like and to search for testimonies of the Slovene
immigrants. […] Before going to Bethlehem
we visited Ellis Island. This is a small
island close to New York City, which was the
“gate” into the “New World”
for more than 12 Mio. immigrants, among whom there were also numerous
Slovenes. […] After having arrived in Bethlehem we visited both the
historical sites of the founders of the city, the Moravians, and the Catholic
and the Evangelic Slovene church and had the opportunity to meet a couple of
people who have their roots in Porabje / Prekmurje. What is more, we were
invited to several gatherings, amongst others a meeting, at which we could
get to know some former Slovene steelworkers. Furthermore, we met some
Slovenes from Števanovci / Apátistvánfalva, who had once
immigrated to the United
States. Wherever we went we were welcomed
very warmly and with great helpfulness, which we highly appreciated.
[…] Since we had collected many impressions and had gathered a great
deal of information on our trip, we thought we could share our experiences
with the population of the Raba and the Mura Region. Hence we began accumulating
material for an exhibit. We did this besides working and studying and paid
everything ourselves. We asked Ms Szukics if we might use a room at the
Slovene Centre “Lipa” in Szentgotthárd, which she agreed
on. […] It is the goal and motivation of our exhibit to give the
population of the Raba and the Mura Region an understanding of the city of Bethlehem and of its
rich Slovene heritage. […] The exhibit consists of four major sections:
In the first part we treat Ellis
Island and the immigration process into the U.S., in the second section we
show the influence of the Moravians on the image and the history of the city.
The third part of the exhibit is about the Slovenes from the Raba and the
Mura Region. The fourth and final section is dedicated to Bethlehem Steel, the steel company for which
numerous immigrants from the Raba and the Mura Region used to work. […]
exhibit “Tracing the Slovenes from the Raba and the Mura Region in the USA” is still open until mid-May 2007 and
can be visited at the Slovene Centre Lipa (Gárdonyi u. 1) in 9970 Szentgotthárd, Hungary. Entry is free.
Tibor Horvat / Joël Gerber