The guest lecturer was National Carpatho-Rusyn Society President, John Righetti, who addressed a standing-room-only audience in the Embassy's main hall.
"Slovaks and Rusyns have lived with each other for so long that to some, it is sometimes hard to tell the difference," explained Righetti
, who has lectured extensively throughout the U.S. on East European topics and has led multiple tours to the Rusyn-inhabited
regions of Slovakia, Poland and Ukraine.Mr. Righetti
outlined the settlement of eastern Slovakia by Rusyns and Slovaks— Rusyns coming from the east and Slovaks from the west—and discussed the similarities."If Rusyns and East Slovaks eat similar foods and dress in similar ways, this is to be expected because food and clothing are influenced by weather and topography - what the weather is like and what kinds of things you can grow.If you live in the same place, these items should be similar," he
also outlined the dramatic differences between the two groups: Rusyns entirely rooted in Eastern Byzantine culture complete with Eastern Christian religion, Cyrillic alphabet, and East Slavic language; Slovaks rooted in Western Christianity complete with Latin alphabet and West Slavic language."It became harder after the 1870s when active Magyarization policies forced the Latin alphabet on a portion of the Rusyn population and an ever-growing Latinization and westernization approach was taken."
"Today, Rusyns and Slovaks both live in Slovakia, and the current Slovak government is supportive of Rusyn culture," Righetti