Below is a transcript of the podcast All About Hugo. But, if you would prefer to hear the conversation, Listen Here!
Liz – host: Hi, welcome to the Hungarian Living podcast. I’m your host, Elizabeth Szabó Vos. Our goal is to discover, celebrate, and share Hungarian heritage and encourage you to do it too. We’ll touch on food, travel, history, music, and language, and share stories from our listeners. We’re glad you’re here. This is a podcast where we’ll encourage you to dig deeper to learn about your Hungarian heritage in a variety of ways. We’ll have thought provoking conversations and share resources. So, whether you know a little or a lot about being Hungarian, this is the place to be. Today I’m visiting with Esther Suto who works at the Hungary Foundation. We’re going to talk about HuGo, the app for iPhones that shows Hungarian businesses and events all around the U.S. But first Esther, just briefly tell us a little bit about yourself and how you ended up living in the U.S.
Eszter: Thank you, Liz, for the introduction, and hello everybody. I’ve been living in the states for 10 years now. And I came here to actually finish school and finish up research. In the meantime, I ended up meeting wonderful guy who is now my husband. So as they say, the rest is history, that was 10 years ago. We’ve been in business together and lately I joined a team of the Hungary foundation as a communications associate. One of my main areas of focus that I have is HuGo, this new and fun application that we’re hoping many people get to know and start using.
Liz – host: Well, good! I’m glad that you’ve made your way to the U.S. and that you’re all settled. I always love to hear those stories about how that happens. So, you met and fell in love. That’s a good story. So, let’s talk a bit about HuGo, the app that maps out all things Hungarian in the U.S. – historical sites, organizations, businesses, and more, and it’s free! It’s already available for download in the App store.
And you know, when I think about something like HuGo, you know for over 30 years, we have been busy trying to help people make connections with their Hungarian heritage by promoting Hungarian clubs, helping them make connections with organizations where they live pointing out businesses that are nearby.
And even when we plan our trips around the U.S., a lot of times, we’re trying to find the pathway that takes us near a Hungarian community or a Hungarian business that we want to learn more about. So, for us, it’s exciting to have something like HuGo, because now we don’t have to spend all this time researching.
Cause it’s just – go to the app and we’ll figure it out from there. I think that’s super exciting. And now with the Hungarian Living podcast, it’s a great opportunity to introduce people to HuGo as well. As you know, we also interview other businesses about their Hungarian connections. So, it’s exciting that this app has been developed.
I know we will use it as we travel and the most important part about it besides helping people get or stay connected to their Hungarian things is that it is crowd sourced. That means its success is dependent on others sharing the information they know. So our listeners and readers have been sharing all kinds of gems with us through the years. And it is nice to have another way of seeing what is out there in terms of Hungarian things in the U.S.
Eszter: Yes, that is correct. So let me talk about it in a nutshell how it works. So, once you download it from the App store where you can find it under the name Hello HuGo, you open it up and you can start searching. You can start looking up places around you, and it’s basically a very good mapped out database of all things Hungarian in the U.S. so it can be anything, it could be a pastry shop. It could be consulate. It could be a Scouts organization or a library. Anything that is connected to the Hungarian culture.
If it’s a statue of Kossuth Lajos, if it’s a farm owned by Hungarians, you name it, there are categories set up for it and you can filter through them. I’ll talk about them a little later. But basically the search function can be started right away. And if you know of places that you don’t see on the map yet you can also upload them. And we encourage everybody to upload what they know of. You simply register and there you have it. You can you can upload anything you know of. And while doing that, you also have a profile within the app that you can build on it. It will show you how many places you upload it so far broken down by states.
So, you are not limited to your area that you might know the best. If you’ve been to Louisiana, to Kansas, to California and you bumped into a church or anything of interest over there, feel free to upload it as well. And you will see how you basically, how you rank in each state. It’s little bit of a competition, a friendly one where you can follow along how much you contributed to each state’s… I’ll call it a database, or collection of places. So that is how it works. You can mark your favorite spots. So, if say you’re doing a road trip, and you want to plan ahead, and you would like to map out where you’re going and what you want to visit, then you can you can save with a little heart on the side of it each place that you would like to keep an eye on.
So, it has a lot of fun functions. And the database we started with was just to get it off the ground and to have a good amount of places searchable already on the app, even for the very first users. But now that we started, we truly encouraged the Hungarian community or anybody who feels like part of it who was interested to contribute, to come, to upload, to share. Share it on Facebook even, or social media, if they found something like, “Hey, I put this up on HuGo, I put this up on the app” and we are very, very happy to see that.
Liz – host: Just to recap, if somebody knows a place that’s Hungarian or has a Hungarian focus in the U.S. and they look on the map and it’s not there, they are free to register and log it in or sign in and add it as a place of interest.
Eszter: Exactly. And that goes actually for businesses and organizations. If you are the owner of, I don’t know, if you’re an accountant who speaks Hungarian, a dentist, a lawyer, you name it, feel free to put yourself on the map because people are looking for it. And also if you’re member of an organization or if it’s your organization, then make sure you’re on the map because people are looking.
Liz – host: Okay! What are some of the things that have surprised you about what has been uploaded already?
Eszter: So, I’m very, very happy to hear that question because yes, in fact, we’ve seen very interesting points, we call them points of interest, places on the map. And it keeps growing every week and we’ll look at it and it’s great.
So, some of them that are less surprising, but still very, very important is there are so many Kossuth statues in the States. So, there is there’s one probably most people know of in the U.S. capitol or Cleveland, New York even. Also, there are Petőfi memorials or plaques all across the country.
So, we influenced American history quite a bit. To see these Memorial places and Hungarian names on not just historical monuments, but street signs and even townships. And that is actually my favorite category, when I see Budapest in Georgia or in another state, or there is there’s a Balaton in, I think Minnesota and there’s a Kossuth County.
So, all these landmarks, geographical points, that show up as with names that are so familiar to our Hungarian ears, it is, it is always heartwarming for me. I thought I knew enough of them that existed and the people just surprise me, just keep uploading them! Streets and parks…
There’s a Sík Sándor Cserkész Park in the states that is named that, so it is really great. One of my other favorites is the world’s shortest international bridge, which connects Canada to the U.S. and it is on the property of a Hungarian family. When you look at the picture of it, it has the Hungarian flag in the middle. The Canadian flag and the American flag on the two sides. So, this is pretty, pretty impressive. Yeah.
Liz – host: That’s so fun! That’s commitment to another level.
Eszter: And there are just businesses where you wouldn’t even expect it.
Like in Louisiana there’s a strawberry farm called the Fekete Farm. I know a friend discovered it who was just traveling across the area and she saw the sign and, and there it was, and then she uploaded it to HuGo. And then you feel this sense of pride like “yes, I found this and I get to share it with others.” So yeah, they’ll forget that feeling of joy that comes with it when you contribute and find something.
Liz – host: You bet, and it helps other people then find out that it’s there. You know, I mean, the point is we have these businesses, it’s a great way for them to be featured or highlighted so that other people learn about them because you know, U.S. is a big country. Everybody can’t know everything. So, it’s nice when there’s something out there that somebody says, “Hey, I’m going to go over there and visit that the Fekete Farm” or whatever the organization is.
Eszter: And not to mention, I have another little story about an organization in D.C. Section buildings called the Kossuth House that has all kinds of Hungarian plaques on it.
But when somebody just walks by, they don’t know what it is. They don’t know what that means. Something Hungarian, but I can’t go in. I read the signs, it’s still not quite clear what this is. Well, now you have an outlet, like let’s look it up on HuGo where we are. Let’s see what this is. And there you have it in the description. Maybe it even has a website. Maybe you find out that the place offers, I don’t know, language courses or something else that you were searching for or just interesting to know.
Liz – host: Okay! Well, good. So how long has this app been in the works and who is behind the funding of the plan?
Eszter: So it’s been into work for quite some years. ?????? 11:33 ??? About three years in development. The team behind it is the Hungary Foundation. So, our executive director on this, Ms. Lacey had the idea years ago to map out all Hungarian things in the U.S. and so she came to this idea, talking to expats here and somehow the demand was there to have something like that.
Everybody wanted it. And the Foundation said, “let’s do it”. We teamed up with a, with a developer agency and the coding started. And along the way, we really tried to include a lot of people. We had focus groups. We talked to the heads of organizations here in the U.S., the Scouts, to get the input of the community to make it a project that is shared. The Hungary Foundation is behind it, but to make it a project of the Hungarian diaspora and the community. And take the input of the people who would benefit from it.
Liz – host: Yes. And I think people are very curious about things, you know, they may or may not know things that are in their area, but even I know I’ve just looked at the app, just kind of scrolling around, just looking around, oh, what’s over there? You know, we’re going to go this way soon. What’s along our path as we travel this way, what are the places that we can stop and see? So, right now, this is just available for Apple product users, so for iPhones, and is there a plan for it to be available for Android?
Eszter: Yes, the short and definite answer is yes. I know that it’s been in a lot of questions lately. So, the idea behind it was after so many years of testing and developing and more testing and more developing, we wanted to make it available. We wanted to see how it’s received, how it works. Fine tune it if needed, and see what people say, see how people react, see if they want the Android version, see all these things together.
And we’re actually very delighted to get these questions because it means that people want it. People would like to have it on the other platform as well. So! Yes. Yes, it is in the plans. And I will let you know as soon as it becomes reality that it’s available.
Liz – host: Okay! So, we’ve talked about the U.S. and right now it’s only for the U.S., correct?
Eszter: Yes, that is correct.
Liz – host: And how many locations have been entered so far?
Eszter: So far over 700 places and events are on the map, because it’s not just places, it’s also events within the seven categories. And yeah, it just breaks down into historic; community; official, which is the consulates and embassies; businesses; services; events, so Hungarian picnics coming up, or get-togethers, Scouts, Christmas bizarre, you name it, that goes under events. And then there’s another category called “other” where pretty much everything else that didn’t fit into the list of categories can go.
Liz – host: Alright. Well, super! I appreciate you visiting with us and explaining everything about HuGo. And you said that it’s Hello HuGo is how you search for it?
Eszter: Yeah. Yes, exactly. So, when you were at the App store type in Hello HuGo and there you will find the little character. Looking at you with the mustache
Liz – host: and he’s super cute.
Eszter: Yeah. He’s he is a Hungarian huszár. He’s on his journey. He’s the one collecting and he’s the one needing help from so that’s the idea behind it, the Huszár, so he’s on the adventure of collecting all these spots. But he needs the community’s help because he’s just one guy, right? He can’t just go everywhere. He needs the eyes and ears. So this little character who was actually inspired by a real huszár, I don’t know if you know that. Yeah. So the reason why we chose the huszár symbol or character for the app is because there was a quite famous huszár, a real one, who played a significant role at the very beginnings of American history. And he symbolizes how much we actually contributed to not just history of politics and a lot of the cultural effects of what’s been going on over the years, he’s name was Mihaly Kovács.
He played a significant role in establishing the American cavalry in the south, during the American Revolution. And he ended up giving the ultimate sacrifice and he died in Charleston, South Carolina for the cause of freedom. So, like I said, he symbolizes the, the very important role that the whole of Hungary played in U.S. history.
Liz – host: And I, and I think it’s fitting because that was so long ago. And here we are now still, you know, seeing and bumping into all these Hungarian influences through the years. So, you know, he may have kicked it off kind of, but then there’s so much that has been added to it and it’s been fun to watch that grow on HuGo.
Eszter: And to follow along, like there are just these breadcrumbs and trails of what’s been around us. Living here in the states or anybody who visits from Hungary. So really the app is for everybody. Or if you feel like, you know, you, you had a Hungarian grandmother and you’re trying to reconnect, there’s so many things to be discovered and to look up.
Liz – host: Yeah. Yeah, it’s super fun. Well, thank you for the conversation. And we will make sure that in the show notes, that there are links to how to get the app. We’ll have a picture if HuGo so that people see it and they start recognizing it if they’re not familiar with it already. And I just encourage everybody to download the app, get connected with it, and register if you know of a spot that you can add in, that would be most welcomed. And I hope you enjoy this conversation with Esther from the Hungary Foundation. Thank you, Esther, for spending time with us.
Eszter: Thank you, Liz, for having me.
Liz – host: And so again, there will be links in the show notes. So, the resources mentioned in this podcast, and those can be found at www.Hungarianliving.com.
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