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Re: Study in Slovakia

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  • genmom4
    Julia, I had wondered about the dialect issue myself. Although my paternal grandfather came from Zavar, my other relatives all live in Eastern Slovakia, and I
    Message 1 of 17 , Oct 8, 2012
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      Julia,
      I had wondered about the dialect issue myself. Although my paternal grandfather came from Zavar, my other relatives all live in Eastern Slovakia, and I wondered if they would understand me. But, I was told that they should have all learned textbook Slovak, so they should.

      This program opened my eyes to quite a bit of information of which I was unaware (including the nesting habits of swallows who obviously take longer than 3 weeks to leave the nest after hatching).

      I met a teacher from Romania, in her early 20's, who was there because she lived in a community where everyone spoke Slovak. She told me that the community had been there for 5 generations. So, the families continue to speak Slovak even though they live in Romania. This young lady wanted to improve her reading and writing of the language because she needed to teach the students the grammar, as well as teach them Romanian.

      There was also a teacher from Hungary who was there for the same reason. Most of these "compatriots" were there to learn the grammar because they could speak Slovak but could not write it, or read it, as they went to Hungarian schools where they were taught in Hungarian.

      There was a group that came from the Ukraine as well. Some of the students were quite conscientious and were there to learn what they needed to know so that they could apply to a University in Slovakia. They needed strong grammar skills in order to be admitted.

      It was really quite the mix. and quite a learning experience for me, as we learned things that we never would have been taught in school. Especially about the Velvet Revolution. It is fascinating to hear different viewpoints of this time period.

      Our teacher brought in envelopes that had been her father's. He had a relative in the United States who would send money. The money would be confiscated by the aurthorities who had special equipment to scan the letters looking for bills inside. The envelope would be opened, money taken out, a voucher placed inside to be used at a special store run by the government for things that would generally be very expensive, then the envelope was resealed with special brown tape.

      She said that her family eventually figured out how to put the bills in aluminum foil because the machine could not recognize the bill.

      We learned about the so called conspiracy involving Stefanik's death. My cousin had told me this in the past, but I just thought that it was her opinion. This teacher told us that Stefanik's name had been removed from all history books when she was in school. They were not to learn about him. BUt her father would rip pages out of her history books and tell her that it was garbage.

      This was definitely much more than a language course. We learned about Slovak culture and some history as well. Like you said, I'm so glad that we decided to stick with the program.!

      By the way, if you went to Modra now, you would need to take cash, or take it out of the ATM machine. Few places will take the credit card. In fact, when I went to Slovakia with my husband in May of 2010, we only used the credit card. But now, since the European cards have a security chip in them, the American cards are shunned at most places. I was really surprised by this.

      Barbara

      --- In Slovak-World@yahoogroups.com, Matchett <wmatchett@...> wrote:
      >
      > Barbara,
      >
      > Your photos are beautiful. Made me want to hurry back to lovely Slovakia. I attended the Slovak summer program in Bratislava in '02. It felt it was fairly well organized. Good thing you both stayed with it. My class moved quite fast and I was stunned when I learned the Slovak I knew was the Zahorie dialect!
      >
      > I arrived on a Sunday also. Got my room and then went to a store. I loaded up a basket with food and then found out they wouldn't take U.S. dollars or Euros at the time! I put everything back and went back to the dorm. I drank some water out of the sink and went to the bank in the morning to exchange money. I only had one credit card and was afraid to try the ATM that first night. Over all it was a great experience and wished it lasted longer. Julia Matchett
      >
      > > My daughter and I enrolled in the Slovak Summer Study program which was held in Modra-Harmonia for 3 weeks in July. I had a lot of difficulty getting information pertaining to this program in this location, but we decided to give it a try.
      >
      >
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      >
    • genmom4
      Please feel free to direct any inquiries my way, Martin. I d be happy to answer any questions about the course. Barbara
      Message 2 of 17 , Oct 8, 2012
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        Please feel free to direct any inquiries my way, Martin.
        I'd be happy to answer any questions about the course.
        Barbara

        --- In Slovak-World@yahoogroups.com, "votrubam" <votrubam@...> wrote:
        >
        > Thank you, Barbara, for the highly meaningful account (and nice pics). I've had occasional queries about the program, but knew nothing about it. I'm glad to be able to direct people to your description from now on.
        >
        >
        > Martin
        >
      • votrubam
        ... Actually, they never leave the nest they were born in until they migrate south in the fall. ... Some much longer, since the late 1700s. Bram Stoker had a
        Message 3 of 17 , Oct 9, 2012
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          > (including the nesting habits of swallows who obviously
          > take longer than 3 weeks to leave the nest after hatching).

          Actually, they never leave the nest they were born in until they migrate south in the fall.


          > I met a teacher from Romania, in her early 20's, who was
          > there because she lived in a community where everyone
          > spoke Slovak. She told me that the community had been there
          > for 5 generations.

          Some much longer, since the late 1700s. Bram Stoker had a rather unflattering paragraph about the Slovaks of Romania (Transylvania) in _Dracula_ in 1897:

          "The strangest figures we saw were the Slovaks, who were more barbarian than the rest, with their big cow-boy hats, great baggy dirty-white trousers, white linen shirts, and enormous heavy leather belts, nearly a foot wide, all studded over with brass nails. They wore high boots, with their trousers tucked into them, and had long black hair and heavy black mustaches. They are very picturesque, but do not look prepossessing. On the stage they would be set down at once as some old Oriental band of brigands. They are, however, I am told, very harmless and rather wanting in natural self-assertion."

          Some of them (only some) actually moved there from what's Hungary today, where their ancestors had resettled earlier, not directly from Slovakia.

          > So, the families continue to speak Slovak even though
          > they live in Romania.

          That has been quite common in farming areas of Central Europe, because the migrants created their own majority language areas where they settled. The cultures of farming communities have a lot of inertia by comparison to urban areas (not to mention hunters and gatherers). For instance, some people still speak Croatian in south-western Slovakia although their ancestors arrived 400+ years ago.


          > a voucher placed inside to be used at a special store
          > run by the government

          Here's an old thread about the Tuzex stores:

          <http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Slovak-World/message/22809>


          > Stefanik's death. My cousin had told me this in the past,
          > but I just thought that it was her opinion.

          Few Slovak historians give it any credence.

          > that Stefanik's name had been removed from all history books

          Not just his. The Communists, on the whole, taught close to nothing about Czecho-Slovakia's democratic period between the wars. President Masaryk, others, were hardly mentioned at all, except in about one sentence in all of history -- as horrible people who made the new, post-WW I, country capitalist. All that happened during that period was ruthless exploitation and the Communists' heroic fight for, well, communism. And literature was written during that period (but no religious poems).


          Martin
        • Ron
          ... This reminds me of 1993, talking to our Latvian secretary while working on the US embassy renovation. She told of her mother, a newly retired teacher, who
          Message 4 of 17 , Oct 9, 2012
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            > > Stefanik's death. My cousin had told me this in the past,
            > > but I just thought that it was her opinion.
            >
            > Few Slovak historians give it any credence.
            >
            > > that Stefanik's name had been removed from all history books
            >
            > Not just his. The Communists, on the whole, taught close to nothing about Czecho-Slovakia's democratic period between the wars. President Masaryk, others, were hardly mentioned at all, except in about one sentence in all of history -- as horrible people who made the new, post-WW I, country capitalist. All that happened during that period was ruthless exploitation and the Communists' heroic fight for, well, communism. And literature was written during that period (but no religious poems).
            >

            This reminds me of 1993, talking to our Latvian secretary while working on the US embassy renovation. She told of her mother, a newly retired teacher, who had to work through a major crisis after the collapse of communism. She realized she had spent her lifetime teaching many falsehoods, and had trouble coming to grips with that.
          • genmom4
            I cannot thank you enough, Martin, for your enlightening comments. As I had mentioned, this language course taught far more than just an introduction to
            Message 5 of 17 , Oct 10, 2012
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              I cannot thank you enough, Martin, for your enlightening comments.
              As I had mentioned, this language course taught far more than just an introduction to learning how to read and write Slovak.

              I find your comments fascinating. I chuckled at the description of the Slovaks that you reference.

              And I appreciate your verification regarding the Slovak history being censored.
              Do you know how the Slovak government handled the rewriting of Slovak history after the fall of communism? I'm curious as to how the material in print today was chosen. Who chose it, and how long did it take to get into print?

              Finally, I have to admit that I'm glad that I didn't know that the sparrows never left the nest. My daughter and I would come back to the room each day hoping that they had flown on their merry way, just because of the sheer numbers of them and the inevitable accumulation of bird feathers coming through the windows. Plus, I can tell you for fact, that those little birdies only sleep about 3 hours at night.

              Now I'm curious about these birds......we watched the mothers constantly flying back and forth, feeding the baby birds. Do the little ones grow to full size over the summer and eventually go out and get their own food over time?

              Barbara



              --- In Slovak-World@yahoogroups.com, "votrubam" <votrubam@...> wrote:
              >
              > > (including the nesting habits of swallows who obviously
              > > take longer than 3 weeks to leave the nest after hatching).
              >
              > Actually, they never leave the nest they were born in until they migrate south in the fall.
              >
              >
              > > I met a teacher from Romania, in her early 20's, who was
              > > there because she lived in a community where everyone
              > > spoke Slovak. She told me that the community had been there
              > > for 5 generations.
              >
              > Some much longer, since the late 1700s. Bram Stoker had a rather unflattering paragraph about the Slovaks of Romania (Transylvania) in _Dracula_ in 1897:
              >
              > "The strangest figures we saw were the Slovaks, who were more barbarian than the rest, with their big cow-boy hats, great baggy dirty-white trousers, white linen shirts, and enormous heavy leather belts, nearly a foot wide, all studded over with brass nails. They wore high boots, with their trousers tucked into them, and had long black hair and heavy black mustaches. They are very picturesque, but do not look prepossessing. On the stage they would be set down at once as some old Oriental band of brigands. They are, however, I am told, very harmless and rather wanting in natural self-assertion."
              >
              > Some of them (only some) actually moved there from what's Hungary today, where their ancestors had resettled earlier, not directly from Slovakia.
              >
              > > So, the families continue to speak Slovak even though
              > > they live in Romania.
              >
              > That has been quite common in farming areas of Central Europe, because the migrants created their own majority language areas where they settled. The cultures of farming communities have a lot of inertia by comparison to urban areas (not to mention hunters and gatherers). For instance, some people still speak Croatian in south-western Slovakia although their ancestors arrived 400+ years ago.
              >
              >
              > > a voucher placed inside to be used at a special store
              > > run by the government
              >
              > Here's an old thread about the Tuzex stores:
              >
              > <http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Slovak-World/message/22809>
              >
              >
              > > Stefanik's death. My cousin had told me this in the past,
              > > but I just thought that it was her opinion.
              >
              > Few Slovak historians give it any credence.
              >
              > > that Stefanik's name had been removed from all history books
              >
              > Not just his. The Communists, on the whole, taught close to nothing about Czecho-Slovakia's democratic period between the wars. President Masaryk, others, were hardly mentioned at all, except in about one sentence in all of history -- as horrible people who made the new, post-WW I, country capitalist. All that happened during that period was ruthless exploitation and the Communists' heroic fight for, well, communism. And literature was written during that period (but no religious poems).
              >
              >
              > Martin
              >
            • votrubam
              ... Instead of leave, it would have been clearer to say never abandon : the young swallows/martins do fly out of the nest and feed on their own soon, but --
              Message 6 of 17 , Oct 10, 2012
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                > Do the little ones grow to full size over the summer and
                > eventually go out and get their own food over time?

                Instead of "leave," it would have been clearer to say "never abandon": the young swallows/martins do fly out of the nest and feed on their own soon, but -- unlike many other birds -- the parents as well as the young ones always come back to their nest (which gets pretty crowded) for the night, sometimes to rest during the day and stay in when it rains, until they leave in the fall. The young ones begin to breed when they return the next year and build their own nests.


                > Do you know how the Slovak government handled the rewriting
                > of Slovak history after the fall of communism? I'm curious
                > as to how the material in print today was chosen. Who chose
                > it, and how long did it take to get into print?

                Rather poorly. Textbooks are commissioned by the Ministry of Education for the whole country, it took more than a decade to replace the old ones. One of the problems was that there were no experts who would have done, or could have done, sufficient amount of independent research into the "prohibited" period to churn out new textbooks fast. And partly, historians, especially those paying some attention to those periods, were among the groups of people more subservient to the Communists (and often Communist Party members themselves).

                The two aspects of it generated each other, so to say. If someone wanted to stir really far away from the Communist doctrine, s/he might avoid studying history altogether, and if in history, the person would stir away from Central European history of the 20th century. And if someone didn't, s/he probably was someone who wanted to tout the Communist doctrine (meaning, why -- otherwise -- would you want to "study" a period if you realized you'd be obligated only to "discover" and publish lies).

                So it took years after the collapse of communism for the historians, especially the maturing generation, to learn and digest the early 20th century, the textbooks came after that.

                The current "black hole" is the teaching of history under communism.


                Martin
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