Where are you from?

I was born after World War II in Innsbruck, Austria to Hungarian born parents, refugees from Hungary.

What was your childhood like?

My childhood was very happy, poor, but happy. I distinctly remember having school children shout the words “DP, DP” at me while very young. I also remember one instance when someone threw pebbles at me, shouting the same. Although the U.S. is the land of immigrants, prejudices did exist, especially against a country which was on the losing side of WWII. Otherwise, I always felt safe, because we were living in safe times. I always was welcomed in new schools – there were many. My parents moved 10 times between 1951 and 1962, when they were finally able to afford a loan for their first house.

What brought you to Cleveland?

I arrived with my parents and sister at age three to America.

What were your first thoughts about coming to the United States?

I was too young to remember.

What challenges did you face as transitioning here?

From what I remember, I had a terrible time with the language. I was slow in starting to speak (age 3) which was right around the time we emigrated. Then, at age 5, when I went to kindergarten, I had major difficulties with English. By grade three, however, I had become a good student.

What is your occupation?

I am a retired school teacher (23 years) and a small business consultant now for 40 years.

How have other Clevelanders made you feel welcomed?

Kids in the schools I attended were always welcoming. Friends of my parents, as well as parents of my school friends were welcoming.

What traditions or customs do you continue to practice?

I still espouse many cultural traditions and customs, such as the ones revolving around religious holidays. I also cherish and guard Hungarian handcrafts and fine porcelain. I believe I have become richer by doing this. Cleveland is the perfect place for this since it has a relatively large Hungarian population.

What do you love about Cleveland?

I have always loved the diversity in Cleveland. It is not just in the various cultures, but the city and surrounding suburbs have so much to offer educationally, culturally, and environmentally.

Why is it so important to welcome immigrants and refugees?

The “welcome mat” provides an immigrant with a steady assurance of acceptance, which eventually helps with the assimilation process. The step towards assimilation helps the individual as well as the society as a whole.

Why is it important to travel abroad?

By traveling elsewhere, one recognizes the vast differences among the people, but also recognizes the ONE similarity: we are all alike as human beings and fundamentally are the same. It is only the environment and culture manifested outwardly that make us different.