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Lauer Learning Introduces New “Pass It On” Project That Focuses On Preserving Ethnic Identity in the U.S.

The Hungarian American Community is the First Target

Roswell, GA - November 15, 2007 - In an effort to find new ways to preserve ethnic identity in the United States, Lauer Learning has announced the creation of the “Pass It On” project. The initiative will focus on identifying new approaches and creating new tools to reach the younger generations and help build a stronger sense of ethnic identity. Lauer Learning will initially focus the project on the Hungarian American community.

According to Andrea Lauer Rice, the founder and chief executive officer of Lauer Learning, there is a real trend indicating that some ethnic populations are losing their knowledge of, and interest in, their ancestry --history, culture and language. “It is clear that a combination of complex factors - some community related, some environmental - are to blame, “she said. “For example, in the Hungarian American community, fewer children (less than 7%) are learning the Hungarian language from their parents. This is important because language skills are often considered a primary predictor of the development of strong, long-term ethnic ties.”

This tendency is true for many ethnic communities in the United States, according to Lauer-Rice, who will focus on the Hungarian-American community first, because her own Hungarian heritage provides her with first hand knowledge. “The further one gets away from the first immigrants, the weaker the ethnic tie becomes unless the family makes ethnicity an integral part of daily life and repeatedly exposes and reinforces young people to direct ethnic experiences.”

Lauer Learning research indicates that some of the reasons for the gradual weakening of ethnic identity include:
  • First generation family members (the first immigrants to the U.S.) pass away
  • Marriages to non-Hungarians
  • Lack of community infrastructure, such as churches, schools etc
  • Shortage of educational tools and approaches that engage younger generations
  • Ineffective use of new channels of communication

“The “Pass It On” project identifies new ways to reach the youth and help families strengthen ties to their roots,” Lauer-Rice said. “We are finding ways to connect and re-connect 2nd and 3rd generation Hungarian Americans to their ethnic background. We will do this with a variety of tools and new approaches that expose, educate and engage 'at risk' members of the Hungarian American community nationwide and help them gradually develop more and more interest in their ancestry.”

Headquartered in Roswell, Ga, Lauer Learning is a multimedia educational company that designs interactive products to teach young people about foreign languages, cultures and historic events. As part of “Pass it On,” the firm is developing a number of new educational materials that specifically target the next generations of Hungarian Americans. Through the use of multimedia tools and the creation of an online community site, the Hungarian American community will have the opportunity to share their knowledge, experiences and best practices of passing it on in their own communities.

“We are excited about this project because it is filling a huge gap in how Hungarian Americans - especially 2nd and 3rd generations - currently relate to each other,” Lauer Rice said. “If no formal community exists to provide infrastructure and reinforcement, we must find ways to help Hungarian Americans create their own community and their own experience. That is what “Pass It On” is all about”.

Lauer-Rice said that Lauer Learning is currently undertaking four projects as part of the “Pass It On” effort - a community website, www.TheGulyasPot.com and three educational tools.

The community website, a collaborative effort between the Hungarian American Coalition (HAC), Lauer Leaning and the Hungarian Club of Georgia (HCGA), will serve as a central information hub where resource material is posted, user content is developed - for example, one project is to gather examples of Hungarian American history from local representatives across the U.S. - and social networking can take place. “We named the community website Gulyas Pot, which is the correct spelling of what Americans call Goulash, to convey a sense of fun while at the same time teach Hungarian Americans the correct spelling and pronunciation of this traditional Hungarian dish, said Lauer Rice.

Lauer Learning is also developing three multi-generational tools that will provide learning experiences for the family. "Kis Majom" or "Little Monkey," a Language Learning DVD which is in development, will teach basic Hungarian language and concepts to infants and toddlers; The “ABCs and 123s of Hungary” book introduces kids (along with their parents) to Hungarian traditions, favorite Hungarian tales and songs, and at the same time, teaches the alphabet, numbers 1-10, colors and shapes; and a Multi-generational Cookbook for Kids that involves the entire family in making traditional foods.

“”Pass it On” is a program of preservation as well as a plan for change,” said Lauer Rice. “No matter what ancestry we are referring to, in this case Hungarian American, we need to think in earnest about safeguarding our legacies and reversing the trend of young people losing touch with their ethnic backgrounds. As a community we must find ways to work together to pool resources, identify best practices, find new ways to reach out to Hungarian Americans of all ages and re-energize programs and community members.”

For further information on “Pass It On” or to obtain a copy of the recently completed White Paper, “Pass It On…The challenges of passing on ethnic identity to the next generation: A look at the Hungarian American community” please visit www.LauerLearning.com

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