Growing up “Cesky” (Jana’s story: final chapter) / Vyrustani po “cesku” (Janin pribeh, kapitola posledni)Growing up “Cesky” (Jana’s story: final chapter) / Vyrustani po “cesku” (Janin pribeh, kapitola posledni) | Czechmatediary
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Growing up “Cesky” (Jana’s story: final chapter) / Vyrustani po “cesku” (Janin pribeh, kapitola posledni)

This is unfortunately the final part of my interview with Jana (for part 1 click here, part 2 click here and part 3 click here). What a journey it has been! So sit yourself comfortably in your chair and enjoy her last words…

CZ:Toto je bohuzel posledni cast meho rozhovoru s “nasi” Janou (cast 1. najdete zde, pro cast 2. kliknete zde a cast 3. je zde). Diky ni jsme si zavzpominali na stare casy, a to nejen na ubrouskove svaciny….”nikdy se nevraaaatiiiiiii pohaaadka mlaaaaadiiiiiiiiiiii…..”

5/  You voiced some disappointment about the recent outcome of the “Patriots in exile” conference (held in Prague this October) and their opinion on the new Eurogeneration. Can you explain your stand on this issue a little bit?
It is upsetting to me that people make general statements without doing some research. Maybe this speaker’s experiences with the youth in her country is accurate but it might not be in other countries. Some Czechs believe that just because émigrés left, they left their culture behind and did not pass it down to their children. That is not true 100% of the time. I would classify them into two groups of émigrés: one group that totally burned their bridges and taught nothing to their kids. Their experiences with the totalitarian regime was something they would rather forget. They grew to like their new home and roots began to take shape. The second group were passionate about their culture and taught their children not be ashamed of it. Even though their “Stara vlast” was communist they founded cultural and heritage organizations and waited for communism to end. They knew it had to end because communism was based on lies and anything based on lies has got to collapse. They kept the culture alive even though the communist government spread lies about them and spied or had informants in their adopted countries. Their families in Czechoslovakia did not have it easy due to their emigration. Émigrés came to Austria, Germany, US, Canada with only a couple of dollars and the clothes on their backs. Before they could go anywhere they spent several months in relocation/refugee camps. In their new country they did not know anyone, had to learn a foreign language, faced discrimination yet they still thought it was important to keep a part of their homeland in their hearts.

Yes, I am proud that coming to America or Canada without knowing anyone, the language, leaving deep roots in one country and having the tenacity and ingenuity to make it in a foreign country. People in the Czech Republic have the impression that everything in America will come easily to them but it takes a lot of hard work to educate yourself and start over with nothing.
Personally, my family participates in various cultural heritage organizations, SOKOL, dress in our kroje and genealogy groups. Most importantly we share our culture with others. We speak the language, celebrate Christmas the same as in the Czech Republic. We have not lost our cultural identity. Whether countryman or émigrés are fifth, tenth or first generation we all know we are from Cechy, Moravia and Slovakia. When I speak to children they know that are Czech. I believe as crazy as it sounds of something is within us, a yearning about the Czech lands which makes us find out about who we are. Eventually, the children of the émigrés who were not taught anything will get curious and will want to find out about their heritage. Everyone once they have children and have to do a school project or have their children ask “Where do we come from?” will have to answer.  They will stop feeling indifferent; I have met such people.

6/ Anything else you would like to add?
I am always feel the need to show people in the US that Czech culture is not all about drinking beer. It is about music, history, athletics, science, politics, folk songs, language, film, art, sculpture, architecture. I try to teach the youngest of children in Texas about Czechs in America and those in the Czech Republic. Then when I go to the Czech Republic I am looked at as divna, which means weird, that I would take an interest in this culture. They do not have positive to say about the US, which is partially our fault due to our politics, but yet they are eager to come to the US. We as descendants of Czechs/Moravian immigrants have helped financially when Prague flooded, Moravia flooded, donate artifacts to their museums dedicated to immigration to Texas from the Vallachia region, invite their folklore groups to perform, and raise money to have the Czech language taught in Texas. So I just do not understand why they judge us not as individuals, believe in various stereotypes and judge us based on our president.


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15 comments… add one
  • Kimmie November 29, 2008, 4:48 am

    I just wanted to add that my husband went to the US and was able to go to college to become a Firefighter/Paramedic. He gratuated with a 3.6 GPA. This is such an amazing accompomlishment!! He left this wonderful career to come back to Czech. He missed his homeland and family very much. The govenment here would not except his diploma. They didn’t want anything to do with him. Because of politics and jealousy. So we have to move back to the US so he can have a good career. Now, how can his own country disown him? We came back because we wanted our children to know where they come from and we wanted them to experience and speak Czech. So this women can not say that all Czechs that are abroad have forgotten their culture. My husband wants to live here. But, it will never work. US excepted him whole heartedly and now he will have a wonderful career!!

  • Tanja November 29, 2008, 11:40 am

    I am sorry for your husband. He loves his country yet he cannot live there because he cannot find a job!
    I think that this small town mentality (i.e. jealousy and “politics”) is just a leftover from the communist times. I doubt that he would have those kind of problems in now very westernized Prague where almost every other person now has a degree from the US or some other prestigious country (especially the young people). No one would have a reason to get jealous over there (although I am sure there would be exceptions as well…).

  • Jana November 29, 2008, 2:13 pm

    The ones who left under communism have a differently mentality then the ones who left after communism, in the 1990’s. They either where harassed so much by the government/imprisoned that they feel psychological effects.I do not know when your husband came to the US so I can not guess. Some who came in 1968-1980’s do want to forget and do not visit or may visit CR once or twice and then not come back. Hopefully I made it clear that there are two groups of people with some exceptions. There are ones that are like your husband who have not forgotten but not all of them feel that way. I congratulate your husband on completing his degree and having a rewarding career. That is an accomplishment. One of the worst traits among Czechs is the jealousy factor . If someone is successful and then comes back absolutely no one will talk to him/her. They are basically shunned, no one will talk to them not even family. I have met people in those situations so I am not making this up. In Czech there is a proverb, roughly translated If you have a goat and your neighbor doesn’t your neighbor will poison your goat so both of you will have nothing. Even the emigres who left during communism had to go back to school or get recertified because their degrees would not be accepted in the US and Canada, so it goes both ways.

  • Kimmie November 29, 2008, 2:55 pm

    Ahoj Jano a Tanjo! That is a cute little rhyme. 🙂 I understood your article completely. There are two groups. My husband came to America in 1999. So, he was not threatened by the communist. Thank goodness. I agree with you that it works both ways with the diplomas. Here in Czech they wouldn’t give him a chance to do that. Bylime v Ostrave. On nechce bydlit v Praze. Ale je to skoda. 🙁
    I don’t want to sound like I hate it here. Nothing has gone well for us here career and money wise. But, the best thing is that my children speak Czech and I understand and I can communicate with my husbands wonderful family. 🙂 That has been the sweetiest gift I have received from living here. 🙂

  • Terez November 29, 2008, 3:30 pm

    Hi, I found your page just few minutes ago and I wanted to say “thank you”. I am and exchnage student from Czech rep. in Ohio. I´ll be here, on your page, a lot now I guess 🙂 ..
    měj se krásně,

  • Tanja November 29, 2008, 6:22 pm

    Ahoj Terezo!

    What a coincidence! I started the same way as you – the exchange student! We have a lot to talk about…I will e-mail you.

    No to je nahodicka!! Ja jsem “zacinala” stejne jako ty: exchange student….ja ti na-emailuju, jo?

  • Tanja November 29, 2008, 6:30 pm

    To Jana and Kimmie: I agree, the jealousy is the BIGGEST drawback in the Czech nature. I myself have gotten a plenty of experience with it. Maybe someday I will write a post about it, once I gather up my strength… and get mentally ready for some nasty comments :))

  • Terez November 29, 2008, 6:51 pm

    Tanja: I´ll be glad if you write me an email.
    and if you don´t mind, I added your page to my links on my blog cause I´d like to watch your new articles 🙂 ..
    have a great evening 🙂

  • Jana November 29, 2008, 6:57 pm

    Well I know who I would want to have my back. 😉 Your husband is fortunate to have someone like you especially your children. Once you get back to the US make sure you speak as much Czech at home because there will be that pull to speak English but keep firm and visit the CR while they are still young and it will stick with them for the rest of their lives. I would agree with Tanya that Prague or maybe Brno might have been better. But think about the positives and not the negatives. The next time you go to visit just know it will only be for 2-4 weeks and then you will go home. Hlavu hore.

  • jana p November 29, 2008, 7:33 pm

    I was only 6 when communism in CSSR ended, but luckily my parents never lacked the time and will to let me know how things worked then, how horrible it was. But I also know that nothing is just black and white and so is the situation with immigrants returning to CR.There’s no doubt that the desicion to leave must have been very tough and the first ears abroad were never easy. But their families and friends who were left on Czechoslovakia usually went through very hard time (they would have anyway, but there was an EXTRA hard time thanks to the fact that a family member emigrated), and after the revolution still had no property and no money. And immagine an emigrant with overrated western selfesteem returning to CR, acting like he’s the smartest in the world, showing off his expensive clothes and car, and telling everybody, how wrong the things are done in CR. These were offcourse exceptions, but even little criticism could be humiliating in such a situation and some emigrants didn’t see at all that things in CR simply can not be changed so easily and immediately.
    It is still not an excuse for jealousness and stupid administration now, that’s for sure. A friend of mine who’s both parents were born in CSSR but she was born in USA had to go through a regular visa process in CR when she wanted to teach English in Prague.That is a total nonsense, she’s practically Czech and still has so much troubles with working here. If me and my american boyfriend decide to live in CR, he won’t be able to get a Czech Citizenship for at least 3 more years, which means we won’t be able to take loan, ask for his “paternity leave” or any other rights a pure Czech couple would have. I will try to do sthg about it, but I am already skeptical : )

  • Jana November 29, 2008, 8:39 pm

    I am sure there are some obnoxious people out there but I can not do anything about them. I can only be responsible for my own actions. Former emigres would comment about things that are wrong about the CR or CSR because there ARE things that are wrong. Communism just ruined a lot of peoples lives. Included are my family members who were sent to prison in the uranium minds. Read part One. My family who stayed behind also suffered. My father was refused education and other things. As for my family we have never had a lot of money so there was no showing off. We do not go out to eat and live simply. As a result my grandmother was able to save enough to pay for my trips to the CR. Read my previous blog features.
    When asked how come I speak Czech and when did my “ancestors” emigrate to the US I tell Czechs that actually my parents left under communism I get treated like a leper.

  • Kimmie November 30, 2008, 9:26 am

    Ahoj Jano P!! You are right that some people come from the states showing off what they have, but Czech people here do it too. That have businesses here. They drive their Mercedes and the women are wearing 4000,- Kc plus jeans,etc. I think many of the problems stem from the government. If the government gets away with it. The citizens are just following. For example: The Student Agency has a line of very luxurious buses for travelers. The politians want to use these buses for free when they are doing business instead of using the free train service. The government took the Student Agency to court and forced them to give the politicans free rides on the buses. So, that makes normal travelers prices go up. It has become a vicious circle here. On Nova last night they said Czech people are shopping for Christmas in Germany and Poland because the prices are 30% to 50% cheaper. I think that is why people that leave and come back have such a negative look at the life here now. The Czech people are still being taken advantage of by the government. It is not the Czech citizens fault it is the governments fault. That is why we are leaving. Because, we can not do anything about what the government is doing. We are lucky enough that we can have a better life in the States. I love the Czech Republic. This experience has changed my life forever!! I just pray that the corruption will end.

  • Tanja November 30, 2008, 10:44 am

    I can’t believe that people shop in Germany now to get CHEAPER stuff!! That’s crazy….

    The good think is Kimmie, that you can always go visit and keep the relationship with the Czech Republic that way 🙂 That’s what I do – and most of us the other Czechmatediarians ( I love that word) do.

  • Jana P December 1, 2008, 9:47 pm

    Yes, I pray too, even when I am the non-believer one 😉 But I believe things will improve. I spent six great years in college in Prague working with international students, I saw we were able to work as a team, volunteer for club and school, and this International Student club went from 5 members to several hundred in these 6 years. I do believe that our generation will make a change, most of us spent some time abroad but we are willing to live in CR. so ve have to, there’s no other way ; )

  • Tanja December 2, 2008, 11:49 am

    Yes, we do rely on the new generation, I guess that would be us 🙂

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