October 5, 2003 - PBS Global Cafe: My name is Jessica and I am a Peace Corps Volunteer working in a small town in Eastern Slovakia.

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Slovakia: Peace Corps Slovakia : The Peace Corps in Slovakia: October 5, 2003 - PBS Global Cafe: My name is Jessica and I am a Peace Corps Volunteer working in a small town in Eastern Slovakia.

By Admin1 (admin) on Saturday, October 04, 2003 - 11:03 am: Edit Post

My name is Jessica and I am a Peace Corps Volunteer working in a small town in Eastern Slovakia.

My name is Jessica and I am a Peace Corps Volunteer working in a small town in Eastern Slovakia.

My name is Jessica and I am a Peace Corps Volunteer working in a small town in Eastern Slovakia.

Before coming to Slovakia (formerly part of Czechoslovakia), I knew little about this country. A single image came to mind-warmly dressed peasants working their fields with simple hoes and rakes. But the reality of Slovakia is far more complex than I had imagined. Slovakia is a country in transition, struggling to redefine itself after gaining independence in 1993.

While many families still maintain large, private gardens and village homes, young people flock to the cities for greater economic, cultural, and social opportunities. The change to a democratic economy has been slow and often painful. For this reason, many young people here hope that Slovakia will someday be admitted into the European Union, thus allowing Slovak citizens more freedom of movement and job opportunities.

It is impossible to discuss Slovakia without mentioning the "gypsies" also known as the "Roma," the poorest minority in Slovakia. The Roma often live in communities with 100 percent unemployment. Many Slovaks view the Roma as a threat to their personal security and to their country's economic success. The distrust is mutual and pervasive. Concerns about this economic and social rift are a frequent topic of conversation.

With regard to "teen life" in Slovakia, I've found that many Slovak teenagers think that American teens have it easy. They see American teens as having unlimited educational and professional opportunities. American teens also seem to have a lot of personal independence and few concerns apart from their own well-being. In contrast, Slovak teens are frustrated by the lack of similar opportunities. But, who am I to speak for them? Here is what Andrej, age 16, has to say:

The Seven Wonders of Slovakia

You might say, "Slovakia is nothing but a small, poor state with 5.5 million people situated somewhere in the middle of Europe."

If this is true, you don't know much about us.

You can find "seven wonders" in Slovakia.

The first wonder is peace. Slovaks are very peaceful. The majority of the people and politicians realize that gradual violence can quickly turn into bloody war, therefore we don't have problems with local conflicts. Our army is very small and we have little military technology.

The second wonder is hospitality. Slovaks are famous for it. They are delighted when visitors try our local cuisine.

The third wonder is politics. It is a dark side of our wonders. Our politicians don't create strict laws to punish criminals. I don't think you'll find this anywhere else. This scares me very much.

The fourth one is beauty-the beauty of our countryside. In my opinion it's a gift from heaven. We have mountains (Tatry, Mal· Fatra), green forests, fertile lowlands, long rivers, deep lakes, and vast fields. Unfortunately, we do not always make sufficient use of these resources.

The fifth wonder is power--the power of the people. Although our ancestors were the slaves of other nations, they survived those hard, sad times and were strong enough to fight for our freedom.

The sixth wonder is dedication to work. Slovaks are very hard-working. But employees in factories don't earn much money. This problem concerns me greatly, because after finishing school I would like to find a job with a good salary. If this is not resolved, young Slovaks will face many difficulties.

The final wonder is religion. There are many strong beliefs in Slovakia. You will find churches in each village and town. Maybe this is the real power of our nation. Maybe the power of our faith has saved us from war and conflict.

I would now like to discuss teen life. We Slovaks admire the living standard in Western countries, especially in the USA. Generally, we think that teens in the USA have a much easier life than ours. They live in better conditions than we do. They receive cars on their birthdays and can find jobs faster than we can. They have more opportunities for education because of the good American school system.

Although I admire the level of development and standard of living in the USA, I like living in Slovakia because this is where I was born and this is where my heart is.

Some postings on Peace Corps Online are provided to the individual members of this group without permission of the copyright owner for the non-profit purposes of criticism, comment, education, scholarship, and research under the "Fair Use" provisions of U.S. Government copyright laws and they may not be distributed further without permission of the copyright owner. Peace Corps Online does not vouch for the accuracy of the content of the postings, which is the sole responsibility of the copyright holder.

Story Source: PBS Global Cafe

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Slovakia



Add a Message

This is a public posting area. Enter your username and password if you have an account. Otherwise, enter your full name as your username and leave the password blank. Your e-mail address is optional.