Covid-19 may have turned our world upside down since 2020 but it hasn’t stopped Americans from socializing. They’ve just had to find creative, new ways to do so.
For Americans with an interest in Slovakia, Facebook groups have been the go-to spot. In these groups, Slovak-Americans swap recipes and travel tips, share pictures of ancestors and discuss Slovak citizenship developments.
While these groups count Slovak-Americans from all over the U.S. among their membership, Pennsylvania definitely makes a stronger showing than the rest.
That’s because with an estimated 233,000+ inhabitants of Slovak descent, Pennsylvania ranks as the U.S. state with the biggest Slovak diaspora. As I wrote in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Slovaks emigrated en masse from the Austro-Hungarian empire to Pennsylvania and Ohio ahead of World War I to seek employment in coal-mining and steel production.
With a near universal suspension of in-person cultural events and festivals in 2020, Slovak-Americans have joined these facebook groups to explore their ancestry, Slovak history, dual citizenship developments, folk art and other topics of cultural interest.
Here are six facebook groups that Slovak-Americans are turning to in order to maintain their sense of community during the pandemic.
Slovak diaspora energized by Slovakia’s currently pending citizenship amendment gather in this group to discuss developments in the proposed law and share tips on applying for a Slovak Living Abroad certificate. The group, founded by this author, was intended as a place to share information for Slovak-Americans hoping to be recognized “officially” by the motherland.
Current size: 1,173 members.
For Slovak descendants wanting to learn more about their background, this is the group. Founded by Slovak genealogist Michal Razus, Slovak Ancestry provides a meeting place for Slovak descendants to share genealogical research tips, as well as ideas for how to connect with distant relatives in Slovakia.
The collective efforts of this group has resulted in a number of heartwarming reunions, sometimes after decades of separation, so keep your tissue box nearby if you decide to join.
Current size: 3,416 members.
Scrolling down the feed, one will find a mosaic of pictures of Slovak folk art and folk dress, all submitted by group members, of course. Group founder Helene Cincebeaux also has a database of 30,000+ Slovak names to help Slovaks around the world connect with their distant relatives; she is eager to help members connect with distant relatives.
Current size: 2,290 members.
The facebook group Slovak History lives up to its name. With nearly daily mini-posts about Slovak history, group founder Dr. Michal Kopanic, professor of European history, keeps pace with hungry learners eager to bone up on Slovakia’s history, one day at a time.
Current size: 2,062 members.
If there’s one constant in this group, it is the group devotion to the FCSLA Slovak-American cookbook, a regular source of discussion among Slovak-Americans discussing their own twists on timeless Slovak recipes. Slovakia travel tips are also a frequently discussed topic.
Current size: 4,765 members.
Founded by Brian Belensky, this group comprises of members of the Slovak American Society of Washington DC. Brian keeps a busy schedule arranging “edu-tainment” style webinars for group members on a monthly or biweekly basis on topics ranging from Slovak history to customs to famous personalities to holiday traditions.
Current size: 839 members.
By Parviz Malakouti-Fitzgerald
Parviz Malakouti-Fitzgerald is a Los Angeles-based immigration attorney of Iranian, Slovak, and mixed European descent. Parviz’s great-grandfather, Andreas Kolenics was born in the town of Dúbrava, Trnie Zvolen, Slovakia and emigrated to the United states in 1907 where he settled in Athens, Ohio.