Young Hungarian Leaders Program 2019 – Recap

by | Sep 23, 2019 | News, YHLP

HIF’s third annual Young Hungarian Leaders Program (YHLP) concluded last week with 13 Hungarian participants. Through a mixture of briefings, study sessions, workshops, and meetings with think-tanks, U.S. government representatives, as well as site visits, participants deepened their understanding of the history and evolution of the American constitutional order, and a representative government necessary for a free and prosperous society.


Day 1 – Washington, The Federal City 

We kicked off our 2019 Young Hungarian Leaders Program with a classical tour of Washington, discovering the philosophical foundations that the city was built on. Exploring the Founder’s vision for the capital of America based in part on Greek and Roman philosophy, and the challenges to creating the seat of the government out of marshland.

Day 2 – George Washington’s Mount Vernon 

The group then spent Constitution Day on the gorgeous estate of George Washington learning about his life, legacy and leadership. We simulated the Genêt Affair, peeked into the Library’s rare books vault, and chatted with Martha Washington about what it was like to be married to the most revered American.

I loved the simulation game where we had to ask as if we were in the position of George Washington. It made me realize how hard and complicated it is to make good decisions under such huge pressure.

Seeing every aspect of George Washington’s life was an amazing experience. I especially liked the fact that he was not idolized! All in all, the day made me understand the leading thoughts behind the foundation of the US. 

Day 3 – Understanding Federalism and the Separation of Powers

Through seminars on Federalism and the Separation of Powers with Dr Jeremy Rabkin; Soft Power, Intelligence and Public Diplomacy with Dr Juliana Geran Pilon; and the Doctrine of Natural Rights with Dr. Roger Pilon participants gained a deeper understanding of the principles that guide US politics today. The group then received a briefing on US-Hungary relations with Ambassador László Szabó at the Embassy of Hungary followed by a brief reception facilitating further discussion with Embassy staff.

Day 4  – Civic Institutions and Public Policy 

The day was spent exploring The Role of Media and Thinks Tanks Influencing Public Policy in Washington with site visits at Politico with a briefing by Daniel Lippman, a visit to the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation and briefing by Marion Smith, at the Heritage Foundation with a discussion with David Azerrad and finally a discussion with Ambassador Kurt Volker at the McCain Institute.

The programs gave a great insight on the whole spectrum of DC’s policy-making mechanisms from the historical background to think-tanks and press.

Day 5 – How Government Actually Works 

Briefings at the Pentagon by László Baksay, the State Department by Sarah Becker, and staffers at the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate served to highlight how the various branches of government work together or against each other in forming public policy.

It is a brilliant program that can provide you with a deeper understanding how the US politics, public debate and decision-making works.

Day 6 – Free Market Workshop, Debate and The Pitch 

We wrapped up our week-long program with a seminar by Prof. Chris Ball of Quinnipiac University on free markets. We held a British Parliamentary style debate on whether university education should be free and closed the program with The Pitch where participants collectively came up with an exciting project idea to foster Hungary-US relations. 

Read what participants thought about the program:

We really built lifetime relationships, it was a really really good group with intelligent people. Everyone had the hunger for knowledge, it was a pleasure to learn together.

I learned to appreciate things in my life more, not taking everything for granted. I learned how important Hungary is to me. I also learned what made the U.S. the way it is.

Even when you think you know a lot about America and politics, there is still so much to learn and explore.

Even if you live in America, it doesn’t necessarily mean you know America. With the help of this program, you’ll get to know the American culture and its history in details and from a variety of different points of views.

I learned more during this one week than in a whole semester at my university.

Participants of this Year’s Program: 

  1. Nóra Pálma Miklós – Hungarian Human Rights Foundation, New York
  2. Szonja Balogh – Graduate Scholar, ELTE
  3. Eliza Hajdu – Calasanctius Training Program,  Niagara University
  4. Viktória Keresztes – Quinnipiac University Hungarian American Business Leaders Program
  5. Norbert Szabó – Quinnipiac University Hungarian American Business Leaders Program
  6. Krisztián Jójárt – Andrassy Fellow Alumn, Center for Strategic and Defense Studies
  7. Noémi Veronika Szakonyi – HIF Graduate Scholar Alumna, NYU Tisch School of the Arts
  8. Zsombor Zeöld – Andrássy Fellow, Center for European Policy Analysis
  9. Zsófia Rácz  – MFNA-CEPA Fellow
  10. Dávid Kosztrihán – Széll Kálmán Fellow, Leadership Institute
  11. Kinga Dér –  Széll Kálmán Fellow, Victims of Communism Memorial Foundaiton
  12. Hajnalka Tóth – HAC LTP intern, Meridian International House
  13. Márton Zsuráfszky – HAC LTP intern, CEPA



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