David Blazek elected to the FOS Board of Directors

David Blazek Friends of Slovakia is pleased to announce that David Blazek has been elected to the FOS Board of Directors.  Dave brings a wealth of experience from his outstanding work with the National Slovak Society and his volunteer efforts at other Slovak organizations and boards.

Dave was born in 1950, the first son of Dusan and Jean Blazek, and grew up in the South Hills of Pittsburgh. He is married to the former Frances Riepole, and they have five children and eight grandchildren.

After graduation from Baldwin High School, Dave attended the University of Pittsburgh where his major was education. He then served four years in the U.S. Navy as a Chinese Linguist and upon discharge, Dave joined his father and brother in the printing business where Dave worked for 20 years before accepting the position of President/CEO of the National Slovak Society in 1993. Serving as CEO of Slavia Printing Company gave him the personnel and business experience that is necessary to manage the operations of the NSS on a day to day basis, with a vision of the future. Prior to becoming President, Dave had served the NSS as a Board Director from 1986 to 1990, and as Vice President from 1990-1993 at which time he took over as President.

Dave has served his church as both Trustee and Deacon, and has been involved in youth baseball, soccer, basketball and football, both as a coach, and on various boards. He has been involved fraternally on the local level serving the Fraternal Societies of Greater Pittsburgh on various committees and officer positions culminating with the Presidency in 2003. Dave was honored by the FSGP in 2007 by being named Fraternalist of the Year. He has served both the Pennsylvania and New Jersey Fraternal Congresses, working his way through the chairs and serving as President of both organizations. He was honored by the Pennsylvania Congress to be chosen as the recipient of the John Jordan Upchurch Award in 2002. In addition, he has also served as President of the President’s Section, and President of the State Fraternal Congress Section of the American Fraternal Alliance, as well as President of the Western PA Slovak Cultural Society. Dave was honored by receiving the Friends of Slovakia Medal Of Honor at the Consular Testimonial Awards Dinner presented by the Western Pennsylvania Slovak Cultural Association.

Dave’s interests include visiting his grandchildren as much as he can, traveling for vacation, sports with golf being his favorite participation sport and volunteering when the opportunity arises.

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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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Letter from FOS Chairman

Greetings. I am Joe Senko, Chairman of Friends of Slovakia (FOS). Our organization urgently needs your support for the 2016 FOS Slovak Scholars Program and to keep up its rich offering of programs supporting Slovak-American Friendship.

In 2015 we were able to offer five summer scholarships to outstanding Slovak university students to study at the Fund for American Studies Program at George Mason University and to intern with outstanding Washington think tanks and non-profit organizations.

Reception honoring Friends of Slovakia Scholars at the Slovak Embassy in Washington, DC

Reception honoring Friends of Slovakia Scholars at the Slovak Embassy in Washington, DC

FOS also brought a model of the Aeromobil Slovak-manufactured flying car to the US for display at the Smithsonian and onward travel for a US-wide tour.

We partnered with the Center for European Policy Analysis to sponsor an outstanding forum on transatlantic security.

A top Slovak film maker received our support for films on US pilots shot down over Slovakia in WWII and aided by brave Slovak families as well as his new film on Iwo Jima hero SGT Michael Strank who helped raise our flag on Mt. Suribachi.

And we have again co-sponsored the annual Czech and Slovak Freedom lecture at the Woodrow Wilson Center keeping alive the spirit of the Velvet Revolution of 1989.

FOS volunteers can only maintain our flagship Slovak Scholarship program and other important initiatives in 2016 with your support. Thank you for your tax deductible donation!

Joe Senko
Chairman, Friends of Slovakia

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