June 16: East and Central European in Indiana

Friday, June 16, 2006
2:00 to 6:00 p.m.
Slovenian National Home, 2717 West 10th Street
The Forum is free and open to the public.

A very special, very cool event is happening the afternoon of Friday June 16: “From the Heart of Europe to the Heartland of America: The Past, Present and Future of East and Central Europeans in Central Indiana.” This is the 6th in the series of public conversations organized by the Central Indiana Community Foundation: the Samuel H. Jones Creating Greater Awareness Forum. Each has been devoted to local groups whose needs and strengths may not be recognized by the rest of the community. Previous groups have been Asian Americans, Native Americans, West Indians, Africans, and Arab Americans. Compared to newcomers who dominate today’s headlines, this year’s group might seem to have fewer problems: Hoosiers from East and Central Europe. With just a few tens of thousands people claiming East and Central European ancestry living in Marion County, you may think this is a minor topic. You would be sadly mistaken. Here are ten compelling reasons why you need to attend this discussion:

  • If you care about the current wave of immigrants to the US, you’ll want to come in search of a different perspective and fresh ideas about how similar problems were handled a century ago. Because of their strange-sounding languages, their alien cultures and customs, and their willingness to work harder and cheaper than native-born Americans, immigrants from East and Central Europe experienced prejudice and discrimination. Somehow, American society managed to integrate them into society … in fact in Indiana, anti-foreigner sentiment seems to have been less pronounced than elsewhere. Figuring out how this happened four or five generations ago could help us today.
  • If you are anxious about the challenges facing refugees from Africa and Asia, you’ll want to learn about the Meskhetian Turks. Exiled by Stalin to Central Asia in 1944, victims of pogroms as the Soviet Union crumbled in 1990, unwelcome today in their former home of Georgia, it’s only natural that many Muslim Meskhetian Turks ended up … in Carmel, where they have been adopted by Protestant churches. Helping make sense of this will be Prof. Çiğdem Balım of IU, one of the world’s foremost experts on the Meskhetian Turks.
  • If you worry about how the US can absorb new and foreign religions, you’ll want to hear how Russian, Romanian, and Bulgarian Orthodox Christians moved into today’s mainstream.
  • If you want to learn about global workforce issues, you’ll want to hear Dr. Natalia Rekhter’s discussion of how Russian immigrants from the former Soviet Union are adapting their skills to Indiana.
  • If you think we need good examples of how to defuse religious and ethnic conflicts, hear how groups that constantly fought one another in the Old Country managed to cooperate with each other in the New World.
  • If you hope that Muslim Americans can contribute to free societies in countries in the Middle East and Africa, come to hear how Latvians, Poles, Hungarians, and others from Indiana went to their grandparents’ countries to help build democracy after communism collapsed.
  • If you appreciate the concerns of Asian Americans and other newcomers that their children are assimilating too successfully and losing their traditional identity, you will definitely want to hear about the Latvians’ preservation of their cultural distinctiveness through language schools, stories about the homeland when it was under Soviet occupation, and song festivals that each year would bring together Latvians from around the world. Next year the Latvian song festival will be in Indianapolis, so come to the conference for a preview.
  • If you are a devotee of Indianapolis cultural history, you’ll most certainly want to see the forum’s location, the historic Slovenian National Home in Haughville. The story of how the Slovenes have remained rooted in a neighborhood from which they moved decades ago is an important part of the conference. Check out www.cicf.org next week for a survey of East and Central Europeans in Central Indiana (I’ll finish writing it this weekend, I promise!)
  • If you are fascinated by world music, bring your ears to the conference! It will start during the registration period with a set of recordings of some of the region’s best music, at least some of the best East and Central European music that was sitting around my office yesterday. For a preliminary playlist, go to IndyBuzz: http://indybuzz.blogspot.com/2006/06/east-and-central-european-music-for.html -- and please pass along any suggestions for music. But the musical highlight won’t be the recorded music played before the conference. It will be the great music played by some of the local East and Central European music groups. Kicking off will be the splendid Hedgehogs, singing a mixture of Lithuanian, Latvia, and Estonian music. More bands will be announced shortly.
  • If you like distinctive ethnic cuisine, come for the food afterwards. Free servings of Slovenian, Russian, Polish, Lithuanian, Hungarian, and other foods. What a deal!

    For more information you can go to the CICF website: http://www.cicf.org/page26442.cfm, or e-mail me at john@sipr.org. You don’t have to register in advance, but CICF would like to able to keep you better informed and engaged in events like this, so you can Register online.

    From the Heart of Europe to the Heartland of America:
    The Past, Present, and Future of East and Central European Newcomers to Central Indiana

    The sixth Samuel H. Jones Creating Greater Awareness Forum

    Friday, June 16, 2006
    2:30 to 6:00 p.m.
    Slovenian National Home, 2717 West 10th Street
    The Forum is free and open to the public.

    2:00-3:00 PM Register, network and enjoy the best of East and Central European music

    3:00-3:10 Welcome and introductions
    · Ralph Taylor, Central Indiana Community Foundation
    · Josef Laposa, Nationalities Council of Indiana

    3:10-3:30 A short overview of the experiences of East and Central Europeans in Central Indiana
    · John Clark, Senior Fellow at Sagamore Institute for Policy Research
    · Comments by Lech Papież, Secretary of the Polish Cultural Society of Indiana

    3:30-4:30 Panel discussion
    · “The Meskhetian Turks: The latest (but probably not last) refugees to come to Indiana” — Çiğdem Balım, senior lecturer on Turkic Studies at Indiana University
    · “Russians after the collapse of the Soviet Union” — Natalia Rekhter, trustee lecturer at the School of Public and Environmental Affairs, IUPUI
    · “Through song and stories: Over-assimilation and the preservation of Latvian identity” — Ieva Sijāts Johnson, singer with the Baltic group “Hedgehogs”
    · “Where now? How Indiana can meet the needs of all its newcomers” — Kristin Svyantek Garvey, Associate Director, International Center of Indiana

    4:30-5:00 Questions and discussion
    · Moderator: Edita Ubartaitė, International Development Manager, Indiana Economic Development Corporation
    · Closing: Caterina Cregor Blitzer, Internaitonal Center of Indianapolis

    5:00-6:00 Food and music! Food from Slovenia, Hungary, Russia, Poland, Lithuania, and elsewhere in Central and Eastern Europe. Music by some of the area’s top folk bands, including the award-winning Baltic group, The Hedgehogs.

    Presented by: Central Indiana Community Foundation in partnership with the International Center of Indianapolis, the Nationalities Council of Indianapolis, Sagamore Institute for Policy Research, and Consular Corps of Indianapolis.

East and Central European music for June 16 Creating greater Awareness Forum

Here's a preliminary playlist of the East and Central European songs that may be played before the Creating Greater Awareness Forum on June 16. If you have suggestions, let me know, I am always looking for new tunes.

CGA Forum … Rough Cut

Marta Sebestyen: En Csak azt Csodalom (Hungary)

Iva Bittova: Strom (Czech Rep.)

Anonymous: Chant Tzigane (Roma)

Choir of St. Ramanos: Da molcitvsakaja plot (Slovakia)

Warsaw Village Band: Cranes (Poland)

Valya Balkanska: Izlel e Delyu haidoutin (Bulgaria)

Dzintars: Blow Wind Blow (Latvia)


Orbestra: "Transdanubian Swineherd’s Music" (Cross-border melange)

Goran Bregovic: Tango (Balkan post-modern)

Zlatne Uste Balkan Brass Band: Aman, Aman Momce Bre (Macedonia)

Transbalkanica: ?? (Moldova)

Sandy Lopcic Orkestar: Crven fesic (Slovenia and other ex-Yugo)

Fanfare Ciocarlia: ?? (Romania)

Balkan balbau: "Ticket za Ochod" (Trieste)

EARTH WHEEL SKY BAND: Dance Rromalen (Serbia)

Ljiljana Buttler & Mostar Sevdah Reunion: Niska Banja (Bosnia)

A Martinov singing poem by Taras Shevchenko, song by Valentin Silvestrov: The Dream (Ukraine ... recorded from Ukrainian shortwave radio, I would love the original recording!)

Arvo Part: Summa (Estonia)

Marta Sebestyen: Szombateste Bucsuztato (East European Jews)

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