Today was the beginning of my Czech language class. My teacher is a sweet lady with purple hair named Jana. That will be easy to remember since almost every women I’ve met here has the same name.
This morning we enjoyed a presentation by an incredible man named Jan Wiener. He and his wife are our “dorm parents.” They are a very kind and warm elderly couple. Jan has a really extraordinary history that he shared with us. We watched a documentary about him titled “Fighter.” It was very moving.
A few words about Jan:
In 1939, when Jan was a 19-year-old Jewish teenager he left Czechoslovakia, hoping to reach England and join the Royal Air Force. His mother was interred and executed at a concentration camp called Terezin for aiding philosophers/intellectuals who had escaped Germany and his father committed suicide before he could be arrested. In order to get out of the country he hid under a train and successfully rode it into Italy. There, Jan was arrested and imprisoned. He managed to escape his work camp twice. The second time he found his way to England where he enlisted in the air force. He flew bomber missions over occupied Europe and returned to Prague in 1945. When the Communists took over three years later, Jan was arrested and imprisoned again, this time as an “enemy of the state.” On his release, he fled to the U.S. (with the help of Eleanor Roosevelt!) to start a new life. He’s now a highly respected professor of history at Charles University.
I spent the past weekend in Moravia with other students from my program. The Czech Republic is made up of three historical areas Bohemia (where Prague is located), Moravia, and Silesia. We stayed in Brno. Our tour of Moravia included stops at several beautiful cathedrals, the cloister where Gregor Mendel grew his peas and did his early experiments with genetics, the Austerlitz battle field where the Battle of Three Emperors was fought, beautiful caves, and dinner at Templářských Rytířů (a wine cellar built by the Templar Knights). I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the tour of the Battlefield. The museum included some really cool multi-media exhibits that simulated the battle. Also, the monument constructed there is very beautiful. It’s a monument to peace and not to Napoleon. It is meant to remind us that the field is soaked with the blood of soldiers from both sides.
I’ve included photos of a day trip to the little village of Kutna Hora as well as some pictures taken around Prague.
Check out these links to photo albums I’ve posted on my Facebook: