Join us for the Accidental Hero Performance at the Ford Theater

Friends of Slovakia has been offered an opportunity by the American Friends of the Czech Republic to provide you with two free tickets to a performance of The Accidental Hero at the famous Ford’s Theater in Washington, DC on Sunday, April 2nd at 7pm.   This is a moving story focusing on one American’s experience as part of the US Army’s liberation of Czechoslovak territory in 1945. If you would like to take advantage of this opportunity, please reserve your tickets on line. Thank you for being a loyal supporter of Friends of Slovakia.

Reserve your tickets online: https://www.fords.org/productions/accidental-hero/

View the Accidental Hero Performance Flyer.

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Statue Honoring 1956 Hungarian Revolution Unveiled in Washington, DC

Statue of the 'Budapest Lad' at the future Hungarian Embassy

Statue of the ‘Budapest Lad’ at the future Hungarian Embassy

On Sunday, October 16, 2016, the Embassy of Hungary celebrated the 60th Anniversary of the 1956 Revolution and Freedom Fight with the unveiling ceremony of the “Pesti srac” (Lad of Budapest) statue at the future Embassy building at 1500 Rhode Island Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. As part of the ceremony, Friends of Slovakia Chairman Joe Senko and Vice Chairman Ken Bombara participated in a wreath-laying at the statue, along with numerous other groups and embassies, including the Embassy of Slovakia, and its ambassador H.E. Peter Kmec.
Among the speakers at the ceremony were several Hungarian officials, including Ambassador to the United States, H.E. Dr. Reka Szemerkenyi. The United States Ambassador to Hungary, H.E. Coleen Bell, delivered remarks on behalf of the U.S.

In her invitation to the event, Hungarian Ambassador Szemerkenyi wrote, “The year 2016 marks one of the most important anniversaries in Hungarian and global history of the Cold War. The 1956 Revolution and Freedom Fight against the Soviet oppression, was not only a truly momentous effort expressing a nation’s strongest values and desire for freedom and democracy, but it was the first truly powerful fight against the communist regime at the height of the Cold War. It then strongly inspired the nations of Czechoslovakia in 1968, and the Polish people in 1980, to fight against their communist oppressors. Ultimately, the succession of these events, coupled with the United States’ commitment to support freedom and democracy, brought an end to the Soviet oppression. This is why we believe the revolution, although crushed by Soviet tanks, meant a real turn in the history of the Cold War.”

The ‘Lad of Budapest’ statue represents the many young people, some teenagers, who participated in and gave their lives in the 1956 Revolution. The ‘Budapest Lad’ is holding the Hungarian flag with the communist-era symbol cut out of the center.

FOS Chairman Joe Senko lays flowers at the 'Budapest Lad' statue

FOS Chairman Joe Senko lays flowers at the ‘Budapest Lad’ statue

FOS Chairman Joe Senko lays flowers at the 'Budapest Lad' statue

FOS Chairman Joe Senko and Vice Chairman Ken Bombara at the ‘Budapest Lad’ statute

Slovak Ambasasdor Peter Kmec and his wife, Monica, with FOS Chairman Joe Senko at future Hungarian Embassy

Slovak Ambasasdor Peter Kmec and his wife, Monica, with FOS Chairman Joe Senko at future Hungarian Embassy

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Dr. Eva Jenkins elected to FOS Board of Directors

jenkins-eva“Friends of Slovakia is pleased to announce that Dr. Eva Jenkins has been elected to the FOS Board of Directors. Eva’s demonstrated commitment to advancing US-Slovak friendship make her an outstanding addition to our leadership ranks..

Dr. Eva Strelka Jenkins was born in Bratislava and departed with her family shortly after the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact forces invaded Czechoslovakia on 20 August 1968. Her parents had to leave without say goodbye to family and friends, no knowledge of the English language, with virtually no money, two tiny suitcases and a two year-old little girl. After spending 10 years in Canada, her family immigrated to the United States in 1978.

Dr. Jenkins is now a Colonel in the United States Air Force, Assistant Professor, and Chair for the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff at the National Defense University, National War College. Previously she served as the Director of Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, (ISR) Pacific Air Forces, Hawaii, where she was the Air Force Senior Intelligence Officer for 2,000 personnel in the Pacific covering 52% of the earth’s surface.

Among her capacities, Eva is a European/NATO/Eurasian Regional Affairs Specialist and a Political Affairs Specialist. Her regional areas of expertise are Slovakia, Central Europe, Europe, Russia and the Asia-Pacific region. Her functional areas of expertise are national security strategy; strategic planning; Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR); executive leadership and coaching; and motivational speaking.

Eva holds a B.S. in Mathematics, a M.A. in Computer Resources (Distinguished Graduate) from Webster University, Missouri, a M.A. in Strategic Studies (Academic Distinction) from Air University, and a Ph.D. in International Studies (Academic Merit) from the University of Miami. Eva travels back to Slovakia often either in an official or personal capacity. With a passion for cooperation between the United States and Slovakia, Eva’s doctoral dissertation Slovakia’s Journey to NATO Membership, was published as a book in both English and Slovak.

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Ambassador Sedgwick joins FOS Board of Advisors

theodore-sedgwick-us-ambassadorFriends of Slovakia is pleased to announce that former US Ambassador to Slovakia Theodore Sedgwick has joined our distinguished Board of Advisors. Ambassador Sedgwick is a Commissioner with the World War I Commission, a member of the board of the Slovak-American Foundation and President of the Slovak-American Business and Innovation Council. He is also a fellow with the Transatlantic Center at SAIS and a fellow at the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress.

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Friends of Slovakia Scholarship 2017

Dear Professors, Alumni/ae, and Potential Scholars:

On behalf of the Friends of Slovakia (FOS), a US based non-profit organization devoted to promoting good relations between Slovakia and the United States, we are writing to inform you of an opportunity that we hope you will bring to the attention of your students and friends. Every summer since 2004, FOS has provided support for Slovak students to participate in the summer programs of the Fund for American Studies (TFAS). Thanks to backing from the Slovak-American Foundation (SAF) and other donors, we are able to sponsor up to five students for the 2017 FOS Slovak Scholars program, which is scheduled to take place from 3 June-28 July. FOS will give special consideration to candidates who are planning a career in business/entrepreneurship, philanthropy, or journalism. All students must meet the criteria set by TFAS in order to be considered for an FOS Scholarship and are also required to meet the program’s English proficiency guidelines. For students demonstrating financial need, scholarships from FOS and TFAS will cover most program costs (including housing), but Slovak students will be responsible for travel costs, living expenses, as well as health care through the George Mason University (GMU) student insurance plan.

Since 2013, the TFAS programs have taken place at GMU’s campus in Arlington, VA, and students are housed at George Washington University in Washington, DC. Participants not only increase their knowledge by attending courses and lectures but also are able to interact with students from many of the top universities in the US, in addition to other international students. Moreover, students hold internships for approximately 30 hours per week, giving them practical work experience in the United States.

Students who are interested should complete their applications as instructed on the TFAS website at www.dcinternships.org. The application deadline for international students is 20 January 2017. A copy of the applications should also be sent by email to Dr. Sharon Wolchik at swolchik at gmail dot com and Dr. Sharon Fisher at sharon dot fisher at ihs dot com. Students may also send a printed copy of their applications to Dr. Sharon Wolchik, IERES, 1957 E Street, George Washington University, Washington, DC 20052.

Slovak students who have participated in this program have found it to be extremely beneficial and have remained in touch through groups on Facebook and LinkedIn, as well as regular events in Bratislava. We hope that you will make your students and friends aware of this opportunity and urge those whom you think would benefit to apply. If anyone has additional questions, we would be happy to put potential candidates in touch with previous scholars from Slovakia.

Yours sincerely,

Professor Sharon Wolchik and Dr. Sharon Fisher

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Lunch with Slovak State Secretary

Members of the FOS Board of Directors met at lunch with State Secretary for Foreign and European Affairs Lukas Parizek and Ambassador Peter Kmec at the Slovak Embassy September 30 to discuss our cooperation with the Slovak Embassy and the Slovak American Business and Innovation Council aimed at maintaining and strengthening US-Slovak ties of friendship. FOS Board members Sharon Fisher, Ken Bombara and Ted Russell explained FOS programs to State Secretary Parizek, including our flagship summer FOS Slovak Scholars study and internship program conducted by The Fund for American Studies at George Mason University.

FOS Meeting with State Secretary Lukas Parizek Sept 30, 2016

FOS Meeting with State Secretary Lukas Parizek Sept 30, 2016

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FOS Slovak Scholars at the Slovak Embassy

Ambassador Kmec and Friends of Slovakia hosted a farewell reception for the four 2016 FOS Slovak Scholars at the Slovak Embassy on July 22. The FOS Scholars are finishing up their two month studies organized by The Fund for American Studies (TFAS) at George Mason University and their internships with local organizations. Pictured from left to right are Barbara Skoloutova, a graduate student of journalism and a junior reporter for Slovak Public Radio & TV, Lenka Slezakova whose field is international strategic management and energy policy, Ivana Kohutiarova, a graduate student in finance, and Martin Homola, who is working on a graduate degree in business economics.

Attendees at the reception included TFAS Executive Vice President Steve Slattery, Mallie Woodfin, TFAS Recruitment & Admissions Manager, Mary MacPherson, President & CEO of the Slovak-American Foundation, a major supporter of the FOS Scholars program, FOS Chairman Joe Senko and FOS Founding Chairman Ted Russell and SABIC Board Member Thomas Kosik representing Virtual Reality Media (VRM).”

FOS Scholars 2016

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FOS Co-sponsors Holocaust Remembrance Photo Exhibit “Last Folio”

Photojournalist Yuri Dojc discussing the exhibit

Photojournalist Yuri Dojc discussing the exhibit

On January 28, 2016, Friends of Slovakia co-sponsored the opening of an exhibition of unique photos commemorating the Holocaust entitled “Last Folio”. The opening event was held at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D.C. in cooperation with the Embassy of Slovakia and the Embassy of Canada. The exhibit is open to the public until April 1, 2016.

The creator of exhibit, Yuri Dojc, is a Slovak/Canadian photographer. He discovered that there were long-abandoned buildings and synagogues in Eastern Slovakia that contained artifacts from the period when Jews were deported from Slovakia during the Holocaust. The buildings had been largely undisturbed since WWII and he set about to document this find as an act of remembrance. The exhibit contains photos of the abandoned artifacts, such as the disintegrating books left on the shelves of a Jewish school. Mr. Dojc also pursued contacts with the few remaining Holocaust survivors who lived in Slovakia at the time. Their photos are also included in the exhibit.

Yuri Dojc with FOS Vice Chairman Ken Bombara

Yuri Dojc with FOS Vice Chairman Ken Bombara

Mr. Dojc also compiled a film documentary of the project, with Director Katya Kraus, which was shown at the Slovak Embassy on Jan. 26. A shorter excerpt from this documentary is also a part of the photo exhibit at the Wilson Center. We hope to provide information when the documentary film becomes available for further viewing. FOS urges anyone living in or visiting the D.C.-area to stop by this unique exhibit that documents a dark period in Slovak history, but at the same time, inspires through the power of remembrance.

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FOS to Present Aeromobil to the U.S.

As the world’s economies seek economic growth and jobs, emphasis is increasingly placed on the key role played by innovation.  A recent Washington Post op-ed by Fareed Zakaria noted, “Innovation is partly about entrepreneurship but also about technology.”  And there are some, such as billionaire Peter Thiel, who argue that, despite the hype, we don’t actually live in innovative times. Thiel, of Founders’ Fund, his venture capital firm, put it pithily, “We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters,”referring to Twitter.

FOS--Aeromobil_foto_01Friends of Slovakia is proud to announce that not only do we now have a flying car, but it’s designed and manufactured in Slovakia!  FOS has recently been in contact with the Slovak firm, Aeromobil, which has designed and built a prototype of a road vehicle with flying capability.  We are procuring a scale model of the vehicle and will be sponsoring its display for the next three years as part of a traveling exhibit aimed at promoting aeronautical technology to young people and the public. This project presents an unusual opportunity to showcase the technological potential of Slovak firms and to promote Slovakia generally. FOS board member, Richard Marko, is coordinating the project, and we will be reporting on details as the project gets underway in the months to come.

Aeromobil is a Slovak firm co-founded by Stefan Klein, chief designer of the vehicle, and Juraj Vaculik, who serves as Aeromobil’s CEO.  Klein has spent the past twenty years pursuing his dream to design a flying car, resulting in the latest prototype, Aeromobil 3.0.  He received a degree from the Slovak University of Technology in 1983 and has studied design in France as well.  He has led research projects for a number of companies resulting in the development of several commercially successful products.  Juraj Vaculik has a background in theater studying at the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava.  He was a key figure in the student movement during the Velvet Revolution from which a democratic Slovakia emerged. He subsequently founded a highly successful advertising firm that worked with many global companies.  In 2010 Juraj co-founded AeroMobil and manages the company as its CEO. He also acts as an angel investor with investments into successful start-up projects in media content, IT and alternative transport sectors, throughout Europe and the US.  You can view the flying car at Aeromobil’s website, www.aeromobil.com .

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