here is the 3rd part of Jana’s wonderful essay called “Growing up Cesky” and it is as interesting as ever! (For part I click here and for part II click here). The last part is coming some time next week.
CZ: Tady je treti cast Janiny krasne eseje zvane “Growing up cesky” a pro zmenu se opravdu nudit nebudete. Posledni cast rozhovoru si budete moci precist pristi tyden.
4/What do you like about the Czech culture and what do you dislike? How about the American culture? What do you like/dislike about it?
What I do not like about the Czech culture is that they do not make the distinction between American citizens and our political figures or government. We are 300 million people and each of us are different, have experiences that shape our opinions. We are not from the same mold so do not categorize us and say we are just like our president because not everyone voted for him eight years ago.
The lack of spirituality or religion which I see in the Czech Republic is disheartening. Whether it be Roman Catholic, Prostestant, Bahai, Muslim there is the thought that religion is for the weak minded. No moral compass exists. If I cannot have it I can steal it by any means possible which happened a lot after the Velvet Revolution. Make money, make even more money and make piles of money. The government has made it tough for émigrés to vote in elections and to receive their citizenship. Just Czech bureaucracy in general is the worst as best described by Kafka. The judicial system and the government do not seem to have the ability to return property confiscated by Nazis or communists to their rightful owners. There is a lack of prosecution of the communist leadership who were responsible for killing, torturing, stealing, defaming and ruining people’s lives. There is no sense of justice for people on both sides of the ocean and people do not have closure. Czechs have to meet on the street the same people who persecuted them under communism. I just do not think that is right. Also, Czechs complain a lot. They spend great amounts of energy complaining about anything and everything instead of using the energy to fix things. One example is complaining about how America is bad, having never seen it for themselves. You have the right to complain about America just as long as you have visited and experienced life here. Czechs also have a xenophobic attitude or focus towards foreigners, different cultures and foreign companies. For instance, I know Hyundai is a foreign company, Korean, but I have not heard of it in the American press described as, “The Korean based Hyundai motor company will be increasing their production at their plant in ….”. Not once but many times in a single article and consistently in the Czech press. Just state the company name and if not otherwise stated and does not sound Czech/Slovak then mention its foreign origin once.
In the Czech schools students are taught memorization which I do not think is learning. I have read about making changes in the instruction which I think is a good step. Some native Czechs I have met cannot work in groups with other people and when giving their opinions/debates they are not able to give reasons behind their opinion especially in written form. Thinking critically and independently. In school I could not just say things I had to defend my opinion with sources and sometimes I did not agree with the topic but I had to defend it.
The lack of women in leadership positions in companies and political office. I have seen all my aunts and female relatives take charge and set everything straight in their own families. I would never dare to mess with them. They are always thinking of ways to improve their families’ life and getting a smaller paycheck. You can not convince me that Czech women are not capable or not intelligent enough to do a job that is a “man’s” job. College age Czech girls would tell me stories of how their girlfriend who’d be heading out the door to a job interview and on the way she would get a call on her mobile do not bother to show up because you are a woman, we want to hire a man. I do not think that is right but I think little by little society will (have to) change and role models will emerge. Czech women need to remember to hold their heads up high and be confident. Your time will come. But do not do stupid things like unbuttoning your blouse and showing the world your red bra at a formal function when your husband/lover/partner is the prime minister. I am just saying it would not be something I would do.
Some positive things about the Czech culture is the rich culture. Czechs are gifted in music, art, architecture, science, medicine, film and inventing/developing products and services. The country has many literary talents such as Kafka, Kundera, Viewegh, Hasek, Hrabal, Paral, Vaculik, Skvorecky and many new ones. Artists in whatever medium: medal, canvas, cubism, abstract, folk art, glass and even the man who draws portraits for tourists on the Charles Bridge. It is amazing how much talent .
I love the beautiful countryside, nature, the forests, mountains and streams. When I first visited at eight years old, I would watch from the train window and just stare at the countryside. My favorite scenes are the wheat, poppy, mustard fields during the summer months in Moravia. The air is better, trees are greener, the flowers are more beautiful and mushroom picking. It may seem I have more criticisms than positives but I am not being hateful. When you care about someone or something and you do not like what you see, you tend to be more negative.
What is American culture and what do I like and dislike about it? I had to look up what is American culture because America takes bits and pieces from many cultures and makes it is own. We do have characteristics in our culture that make us unique and immigrants might not understand them. These come from a Intro about American culture for immigrants.
- Time focuses on the future rather than the past; 2) that we should be able to control nature; 3) that people can be counted on to do the right thing given the chance; 4) that an individual’s wishes, needs and aspirations should be counted as more important that the groups’ or families’; and 5) that what one does or accomplishes is more important than the way s/he conducts her/himself.
Life applications: Save for your child’s college education and your retirement, it is ok to move to another state for a job.
America is a country of opportunity. If you work hard and you can be successful. It will not be easy and money does not grow on trees. You can educate yourself and work. It may sound clichéd to some Europeans as the American Dream but I have seen it with people I personally know. Americans tend to be labeled as workaholics by Europeans. We sometimes need to relax but still work hard.
Some things I do not like is when people legislate their beliefs onto people. People are going to be different and will not agree with you all of the time but do not force them to believe what you believe. Unfortunately there is discrimination and people in the US want you to assimilate. I have been told to my face when I tell them that both of my parents are immigrants and I was born here that I have done a good job being an American. Little do they know what happens inside my Czech brain.
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