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Where is my home?

Slovak Immigration to North America (1870–2010)

Series:

Mark Stolarik

Between 1870 and 2010 over half a million Slovaks migrated to the USA and Canada. As other ethnic groups from East Central Europe, they headed principally to the industrial triangle of the USA and to central Canada’s cities in search of work. Finding themselves in strange surroundings, they quickly established institutions that helped them to survive in a capitalist economy and to also preserve their religion, language and culture. As for many other ethnic groups, the border between the USA and Canada was to them irrelevant. Slovaks crossed it according to economic need and stayed in touch with each other. Meanwhile, they also remained in touch with their families in Europe and helped their people to survive Magyarization in Austria-Hungary, to achieve self-determination in the new Republic of Czechoslovakia and, finally, independence.
For the first time ever, the author has told the epic story of Slovak immigration to North America. Based upon forty years of archival and library research, supplemented by the life histories of over two dozen families scattered across the USA and Canada, and lavishly illustrated, this book will satisfy both academics and the general public who have long been waiting for a comprehensive history of this significant member of the family of Slavic nations.

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Chapter 8 - Torn Between Two Worlds 237

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Chapter 8 Torn Between Two Worlds As Mark and Anne Stolarik began their professional careers in North America, they found themselves caught between two worlds. After they had graduated from the University of Minnesota in the 1970’s, they found employment in Cleveland, Ottawa, Philadel- phia and Ottawa again. Their thirteen years in Philadelphia were among the most enjoyable. Here they witnessed upper-class life and learned the strategies of fund-raising. Furthermore, they joined the city’s institutionally complete Slovak community. They also welcomed two children into their lives. However, this was not enough to offset the pull of their families in Canada. Eventually, they decided to return “home.” While in the United States, Mark Stolarik was interrogated for a second time by an official of the Czechoslovak government. As president and CEO of the Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies in Philadelphia, Stolarik had acquired a reputation as an expert on American pluralism. In October 1984 the vice-president for pro- gram services at Meridian House International in Washington, DC, invited him to address a new class of diplomats recently accred- ited by the government of the United States. When he did so on December 17, 1984, he was surprised to see the new Ambassador of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, Stanislav Suja, and his First Secretary, Milan Švec, (both Slovaks) in the audience.1 After Stolarik had finished his lecture on American ethnic diversity, he opened the floor to questions. Milan Švec immedi- ately stood up and disagreed with the speaker about the benefits 1...

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