THE TALE OF A KNIGHT IN MINNESOTA
by Sasha Shahidi and Györgyi Facskó
Minneapolis, October 15, 2016
On October 1st, 2016 the Consulate General of Hungary in Chicago hosted the first MIDWEST Regional Diaspora Meeting. The purpose of the event was to unite Hungarians in the region and strengthen inter-organizational relations.
Just before closing the official program, Dr. Ferenc Szebényi, Consul General, made a surprise announcement. He stated that one of the meeting’s participants was about to be honored for the outstanding role she has played in the representation of Hungarian culture abroad. He asked Ms. Csilla Grauzer, Honorary Consul of Hungary in Minnesota, to stand. Ms. Grauzer was presented with the Knight’s Cross of the Order of Merit for her service to Hungarian culture and the preservation of Hungarian identity throughout Minnesota, as well as her dedication to various humanitarian initiatives. This high-ranking state recognition was directly approved by Dr. János Áder, President of the Republic of Hungary.
Csilla Grauzer grew up in Transylvania and moved to Minnesota in 1983. She began introducing locals to Hungarian culture and cuisine when she opened a Hungarian restaurant with her mother in St. Paul. Ms. Grauzer eventually started a cooking school and began organizing culinary tours to Hungary and Transylvania, all the while immersing herself in local folk-art initiatives. About twenty years ago, Ms. Grauzer joined the Minnesota Hungarians, a local cultural organization. She has been the Minnesota Hungarians’ President since 2007, organizing numerous civic, humanitarian and cultural events and rapidly expanding the organization’s presence in Minnesota. Examples of her outstanding work with the Minnesota Hungarians include a fundraising campaign for a Transylvanian orphanage operated by Father Csaba Böjte and a summer camp for displaced children of the region, a Carpathian Festival in Minnesota, initiating the foundation of a Hungarian language school in the Twin Cities and supporting projects run by the American Refugee Committee and the United Nations Association.
Ms. Grauzer serves on the Board of the Hungarian American Coalition, an umbrella organization for Hungarian-American communities throughout the United States. She is also a founding member of the Hungarian Diaspora Council, a Hungarian entity that is comprised of representatives of Hungarian communities in Western countries.
In 2014, Ms. Grauzer was appointed Honorary Consul for Hungary in Minnesota, a voluntary position that requires dedication and leadership. Her role is to represent and promote Hungarian arts, culture and trade in Minnesota and perform various consular duties for the local Hungarian community.
In order to further support such widespread work, Ms. Grauzer founded the Creative Cultural Exchange, a non-profit that promotes innovative cross-cultural dialogue, collaboration and development between the United States, Hungary and other countries in Central and Eastern Europe.
Outside her extensive volunteer work, Ms. Grauzer is a successful businesswoman and entrepreneur. She was the Sales and Marketing Manager of Softflow Inc. USA, an international biotechnology company based in Hungary. After the successful sale of Softflow to a Danish company, Ms. Grauzer was recently appointed Operations Manager of Softflow’s legal successor, Flow2US, a consulting firm specializing in business development between enterprises in the United States and Hungary. Ms. Grauzer and her husband also own and operate elder care homes in Minnesota.
After presenting Ms. Grauzer’s achievements to the MIDWEST Regional Diaspora Meeting participants, Dr. Szebényi handed her the Knight’s Cross of the Order of Merit of Hungary. Ms. Grauzer, surprised by this unexpected appointment, gave thanks and accepted a well-deserved applause.
The meeting concluded with Dr. Szebényi honoring the sacrifices of Hungarians living in the diaspora. Let this be the first of many gatherings to come.