Source: The Buffalo News
By Elmer Ploetz NEWS STAFF REPORTER
When Jack Edson started to introduce the guests at the Hamburg Library Friday, he held up a pair of books.
One featured children’s favorite Junie B. Jones. The other was the Bible. Both were written in the Macedonian language — and in the Cyrillic alphabet.
The books were two of the 200 presented to the Hamburg and Lackawanna libraries by Zoran Jolevski, the Macedonian ambassador to the United States.
The donation is part of the American Corner Project, a worldwide initiative developed by the U. S. Department of State to join countries together through books, music and the Internet.
Jolevski said the Lackawanna and Hamburg donations are the first by his office in America.
“In Buffalo, we have a big Macedonian population,” said Jolevski, “and plus we have good connections between the library in Skopje [Macedonia’s capital] and in Buffalo and the University at Buffalo.”
There were about 50 people at the library for the presentation, including many representatives of the Western New York Macedonian community.
Rick Mazella of SS. Cyril and Methodius, a Macedonian Orthodox church in Blasdell, said about 230 families worship there, but he estimated the number of Western New Yorkers of Macedonian descent at about 2,500.
The gifts are intended to help Macedonian-Americans maintain their heritage — particularly by reading. The church intends to start offering classes in reading Cyrillic Macedonian next fall.
“Using your own language, your mother tongue, is the most important tool to preserve your heritage,” Jolevski said. “Being able to read books of your country, in your mother tongue, gives you a strong background.”
Macedonia is an independent nation of about 2.1 million people in what had been Yugoslavia before that country’s break-up in the 1990s. The landlocked country is north of Greece and is slightly larger than the state of Vermont.
A full list of local officials attended the event, from Assemblyman Jack Quinn III, R-Hamburg, to Hamburg Town Supervisor Steven Walters and Village of Hamburg Mayor Tom Moses Sr.
“To my knowledge, this is the first time we’ve ever had an ambassador in Hamburg, N. Y.,” said Edson, the Hamburg librarian, as he introduced Jolevski.
Bridget Quinn-Carey, Buffalo & Erie County Library system director, said the donation meets a growing need in American libraries. “Getting materials in any other kind of language is very difficult, so to have access to a wide variety of formats and genres is very interesting,” Quinn-Carey said.
Edson said that materials in languages such as Vietnamese, Russian and the other Slavic languages are increasingly needed.
Also, the library is hosting a three-week exhibit of Macedonian Dimce Isailovski art, a set of paintings, wood blocks and frames that build on traditional Macedonian iconic work and themes.
SS. Cyril and Methodius also had a reception for Jolevski and his delegation Friday night.
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