Leslie Begala Bodnarchuk ’79, M’89 and her daughter, Alexandra, spent two weeks in August 2007 volunteering in St. Nicholas Orphanage in Medzilaborce, Slovakia.
Leslie with Geza, one of the children of the orphanage.
Medzilaborce, located in the Carpathian Mountains in the northeastern corner of the country, is home to the other Andy Warhol Museum. (Warhol’s parents came from the nearby village of Mikova.) Leslie did a number of Warhol-based art projects with the children in the orphanage, including painting and silkscreening photos of celebrities like Johnny Depp, Harry Potter, and Beyonce. Both Leslie and Alexandra also taught English to the children, who ranged in age from birth to twenty years in age.
Leslie is an art teacher at Shady Side Academy in Fox Chapel (Pittsburgh) Pa., where Alexandra is a senior. This was their second trip to Slovakia. On this trip, they also were able to locate and visit some long lost cousins.
“We took suitcases of books, art supplies, donated school supplies, and $1392.26 for the orphanage,” said Leslie. “The money was largely donated during a performance by Slavjane (Carpatho-Rusyn) Folk Ensemble at Kennywood Park for Byzantine Catholic Day — my daughters, Alexandra and Larisa are members of Slavjane. However, the orphanage is sponsored by the Orthodox church. The children in the orphanage are mainly Roma (gypsy) and some Rusyn, both minorities in Slovakia.”
Leslie at a bus stop on the street in Medzilaborce. “The town capitalized on the Andy Warhol connection by having Warhol-like artwork at bus stops and on the sides of buildings.”
Alexandra with nine-year-old Marek and five-year-old Andrea, two little children of the “Mouse” family with whom Leslie and Alexandra stayed. The two little imps served as the orphanage's unofficial ‘welcoming committee’!
Leslie with “Andy Warhol” in the Andy Warhol Museum in Medzilaborce. “There were also Warhol family momentos in the museum, as well as a photo of Slavjane!”
Some of the kids in the orphanage with books that Leslie and Alexandra brought with them.
Tibor reads The Cat in the Hat as Birgitta and Tomas look on.
Alexandra teaches Marek some English vocabulary and simple phrases.
Alexandra with Domenika.
Alexandra with some of the children of the orphanage from the “Sun” family.
Alexandra helping little Marek with an art project.
Alexandra with Jana and Tomas and their artwork.
Alexandra teaching Jaro some English.
Leslie and Alexandra presenting a check for $1392.26 to Dagmar, the director of St. Nicholas orphanage.
Leslie doing a photo “celebrity” silkscreen with Betka.
Leslie and Betka with her celebrity silkscreen of Johnny Depp.
Annicka with her celebrity silkscreen of Harry Potter.
Alexandra and Leslie with the children of the “Mouse” family.
Leslie and Alexandra with nine-year-old Marek on the morning they left.