FALL SEMESTER

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It has been six weeks I am back at home. Even though, the very first days after my return were not really easy for me for multiple reasons, I quickly acclimatized myself to the Czech background. I started to attend a master program of Teaching English and French at Masaryk University in Brno, so I basically continue where I finished a couple of months ago. The good thing is my very good friends from the bachelor studies carry on as well, so I did not stay there alone.

I know I say it all the time, but this semester is really the busiest I have ever had. Not only do I go to my regular classes (that are even on Friday now, so bye-bye the lovely three days weekend I used to have), but I also continue teaching English classes (all together 17 language courses) and I go to a primary school twice a week to get my teaching practice. I could not give up the ballet classes either, so I put them to my time schedule as well. I get up around five almost every day, but I do not really mind. I am excited to know what each day will bring. As Baylor claims: future is now! Try getting up early as well tomorrow!

The master program is definitely much more about practice than theory and I appreciate that. We discuss a lot with our teachers the issue of teaching methods, didactics and nowadays kids in general. I am especially grateful for the opportunity to watch pupils at school. I am also supposed to teach them – there will be certainly one big separate article about this topic.

Talking about my classes, I actually shared with my students my Texas story and we read together some of the published articles about my journey and the presentations tour. I was pleased to see their interest in Czech heritage in Texas. Full of enthusiasm, I gave an interview to Masaryk University newspapers and I wrote to multiple publishing houses of the Czech newspapers to offer my story. Eventually, one article was released in online version of one of the biggest national newspapers. Quite success, I know, but the thing is they misinterpreted a bit my whole point and did not even dare to send it to me before publishing it. Cherry on top was the discussion under the article where I just reminded to myself how envious Czechs can be. Anyhow, I am more than happy to spread the history of Czech migration to Texas.

As I am saying, there is always something to talk about. I know I am not good at posting the articles these days because of the time, but trust me there is not a day I would not think about my summer in Texas and all my accomplishments and adventures I lived there.

 

 

Lecture at Baylor

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My lecture at Baylor University entitled How Kolaches Came to Texas: A Social and Cultural History of Czech Migration took place 30th August 2016 and I must say it has been one of the best moments in my entire life.

It is quite difficult for me to find words which would adequatly describe my impressions from that event. It was just AWESOME! The audience was amiable, very supportive and also large – there were three hundred people. I was caugt off-gaurd by the fact that so many people showed up. The pride and determination of the Texans with Czech roots will never stop astonishing me. They like gathering and maintaining the Czech heritage.

I will never forget the moment I took the microphone into my hands and started speaking about a topic that has a soft spot on my heart – Czech migration to Texas.

After the lecture I had the opportunity to speak with the people who came and I appreciated a lot their kind words. It was a pleasure for me to chat with them. The lecture was definitely a huge success and it always brings a smile on my face when I think about it. Thanks once again for everybody who came.

Wanna watch the record of the lecture? Click here

 

Who would say that after my exchange stay at McLennan Community College in 2014,  I would go back to Waco in 2015 to spend time researching Czech history, and began work on an academic thesis on Czech immigration to Texas, which resulted in a series of lectures in 2016. Sometimes I cannot still believe that all this happened.

I would like to express my gratitude here to John and Kathy Hillman who did a marvelous job when organizing and promoting the lecture at Baylor. Nothing would have been possible without them. Their support during my whole stay played a crucial role. They gave me the best background I could ask for.

You can have a look at some pictures from the lecture that were taken by Sarah E.Lindstorm from Baylor University and you can also read this article published by Baylor newspapers.

 

 

 

Port Aransas – tak trochu jiný TEXAS

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boat pKdyž jsem v minulém příspěvku zmiňovala věci, které přispívají k tomu, že se těším domů, tak po návštěvě Portu Aransas, malého přístavního městečka na jihu Texasu, už mám zase trochu jiný pohled na celou situaci. I v Texasu totiž existují místa, ze kterých se Vám zpáky domů jen tak chtít nebude. Musíte však mít štěstí a znát někoho, kdo o těch míst nejenom ví a vezme vás tam, ale dokáže si ten výlet také sám užít. A to je přesně Jodi a její dcera Danielle. Těžko byste hledali více flegmatické osoby, kterým pojmy jako stres, nervozita a blbá nálada opravdu nic neříkají. Hodina sem, hodina tam, na čase nezáleží. 🙂 Věřte mi, s těmihle lidmi chcete vyrazit na výlet k moři, respektive k Mexickému zálivu.

Z Waca to bylo „jenom“ necelých pět set kilometrů. Však to znáte. Je to sice dál, zato horší cesta. A tak jsme po pěti hodinách dorazili na místo. Když píšu „dorazilI“, tak mám na mysli i půlroční štěně německého ovčáka Gunnera, který vše absolvoval s námi.

Na první pohled bylo jasné, že tohle není Texas, který znám. Venkovní bary a restarauce, venkovní bazény, lidé venku…zmínila jsem dostatečně slovo venkovní? Světě div se, dokonce se tam mohlo kouřit, lidé se čvachtali v bázenu s plechovkou piva, která nemusela být v papírovém sáčku, kolem lítaly děti, zpívalo se, křičelo se a nikdo se nicítil být pohoršen. Tohle opravdu není ten konzervativní Texas, co znám.

Abych pravdu řekla, jsem z toho všeho teď zmatená. Na jedné straně máté striktní Baptisty, kteří, ať jsou sebevíce hodní a milí, tak jsou prostě až moc svázaní všemi svými pravidly (nemluvě o nepříteli číslo jedna = alkohol), na straně druhé pak potkáte lidi, kterým je úplně jedno, zda porušují nepsaná či psaná pravida, a s chutí pak o půlnoci vyřvávají z plných plich staré hity Britney Spears. Stejně jako se vědci nemůžou shodnout, co člověka ovlivňuje více, jestli geny nebo výchova, já se zase nemůžu dopátrat odpovědi na to, zda Texasany v jejich způsobu života více ovlivňuje náboženství, či samotná povaha.

Když se mi ve čtvrtečním rozhovoru pro místní rádio zeptali, co mám na Texasu ráda, chvilku jsem mlčela, než jsem dokázala odpovědět. (no ano, to bylo docela vtipné ten moment) Nutno však podotknout, že to bylo ještě před objevením Port Aransasu, místa kam se opravdu chci ještě minimálně jednou vrátit. Teď už vím, přesně, co bych odpověděla.

Ale dost povídání, fotky Vám stejně řeknou více 🙂

Na pláži místo lehátek a slunečníků byla samozřejmě auta.

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Narváno nebylo, což bylo ale dáno tím, že haranti jsou zpátky ve škole…

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Nedělní ráno

more melke pobrezi

 

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Bazének, o kerém, jsem mluvila. Na ceduli NO SMOKING, NO DRINKING, všichni zvysoka kašlali 🙂 Všichni se teď právě cpou u večeře krevetama, proto nikde nikdo…

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Krevety v plastovém kyblíčku. Francouzi by asi zaplakali … ale byly dobré  a opět se projevila Texaská pohostinnost. Nabídli nám je od vedlejšího stolu. 🙂

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Krabíkama s očičkama hezky naservírujeme na hranolky a nezapomeneme na sauce do plastu. Američani by bez jejich majonezovych sosiku nesnedli fakt asi nic…:-)

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Protože růžová lavička je nejhezčí

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A protože chození je náročně, pronajmeme si růžové golfové vozítko

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Barevných domečků není nikdy dost

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Po 125 pokusech se mi podařilo nás oba vyfotit

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Kdo by nechtěl fotku se žralokem

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Ne, to není žralok, jen delfín…hodně nepovedené foto, ale po půl hodině čekání na správný moment mě to přestalo bavit 😀

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Kolem kostela vysázíme palmy, bude to hezčí…

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A na střechu dáme chobotnici

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A na závěr půjdeme na jahodové daiquiri 🙂

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Tak to byl výlet do Texaského ráje…Chci zpátky!

 

 

 

 

 

Radio Interview in Texas

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My first radio interview in my entire life. I was very pleased they invited me and we could chat about my homeland, Texas experiences and thesis. In fact, the whole interview lasted thirty minutes, but they had to cut it into five minutes. It’s not bad having a record of your voice and thought that I can show to my grandchildren when I’m seventy!

Hope you will enjoy it!

http://kwbu.org/post/qa-czech-culture-central-texas

Lecture in Houston

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I arrived back to Waco from my extended weekend and had to put down the impressions I have from the two latest lectures I gave. The first one was on Friday at the Czech Center Museum in Houston. I absolutely fell in love with the beautifully decorated room where I was presenting my thesis. The stylish wooden furniture, a nice carpet, the festive chandeliers – I would never say that all these „details“ can help to calm you down before you present. Nevertheless, the thing I appreciated the most was the technical background: everyone could see and hear well thanks to the big projection screen and the portable microphone, plus – as you can see in the picture below, I was equipped by a great gadget of the twenty-first century – the wireless red laser pointer that facilitated a lot my work when speaking. Thus, the overall atmosphere was hopefully pleasant not only for the audience, but for me as well.  houston

As always, I shared with people my story and they patiently listened to me. Every presentation is different. I never know how people will react and so promptness and readiness are my best friends at that time I speak. The audience always surprises me, because every group finds hilarious different things. When one group laughs a lot at some point, the other does not. As I say, you had better be ready for everything when presenting in front of Texans 🙂

Anyway, the audience in Houston was very friendly, attentive and at the end they had intriguing questions. One of them was if I can hear any difference in Czech that is spoken by the descendant here in Texas and Czech I speak. The answer is definitely yes. For instance, people here when saying goodbye often use „S pánem bohem“, which is considered ‚old school‘ nowadays in the Czech republic.

My favorite question this time, though, was if the ending -„ová“, that is in my last name (Luňáková), is something trendy or popular now in the Czech language. Even though, I replied that not really and that the language system has always worked like that, I wasn’t completely right. I have learned that in the past there were some areas in the Czech lands, where they were using „ová“ for married women and „ova“ for single ones. Since the nineteenth century they started to use the ending „ová“ for every women, no matter what their marital status was. Isn’t that interesting? How funny or rather ridiculous would it be to use this system nowadays.

I am always very happy when people have questions/comments or when they want to share with me their personal stories. I know how important to them is their cultural heritage and I feel very honored when they travel, sometimes quite far away, to see me. All this truly shows their enthusiasm and pride of being of Czech ancestry and I am glad to be a part of this incredible Czech-Texas phenomenon.

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Mami, to koukáš, co se tu najde, co? Musíme v Rokytnici zase na výlet a koupit Krakonoše 😉

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Thanks everyone for coming and supporting me. It means a lot to me. Nothing would have been possible without you all!

Alice

Proč je to někdy s Amerikou složité

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14012311_10206920681324683_1172661102_nZdravím všechny své kamarády z jedné Texaské farmy 🙂 A protože víte, jak ráda sepisuji romány,  vybrala jsem dneska top pět věcí, které nejvíce zapříčiňují, ze se letos těsím domu jako nikdy před tím.

Přemýšlela jsem, jak tento příspěvek podat, aby to nevyznělo, že si stěžuji (což opravdu nechci), ale poté, co mi pár z Vás napsalo, jak mi závidí (v tom dobrém slova smyslu), že můžu být zase delší dobu v USA, cítím určitou potřebu uvést věci tak, jak se mají. Ano, cestování miluji a už si bez něj vlastně ani nedokážu můj život představit, nicméně za všemi těmi americkými úsměvy na fotkách (jako například na této :-)), které vysílám do světa virtuální reality, se neskrývají jen pozitiva. Dalo by se to i nazvat takovou menší mystifikací na Vás, což je vlastně celý princip sociálních sítích, to všichni víme, že? 🙂 Po počáteční euforii z cestování se dříve či později na svých cestách dostanete do bodu, kdy stojíte před zrcadlem, koukáte se sami sobě do očí a nechápete, co tady vlastně děláte. Najednou Vám chybí z domova úplně všechno a všichni, a chcete nasednout na první letadlo směr domov. Pocit, že Vám místní, ať jsou sebevíce hodní, nerozumí, nechápou vaši mentalitu a humor, se s každým dnem prohlubuje. Ale nesmíte se tomu moc podávat, ono pak vždycky stačí nějaká maličkost a zase máte radost ze vsech tech zážitku, které Vám už nikdo nikdy nevezme. Aneb jak se dnes moderně říká, musíte vystoupit ze sve komfortní zóny. Jinymi slovy, odloučení od domova Vás stoprocentně naučí vážit si toho, co máme/máte doma. Na následujících pěti bodech jsem se snazila shnrout, proč se mi tak stýská po mé rodné vlasti.

  1. EKOLOGIE – ano mé ekologické srdíčko pláče nad všudypřítomným plastem v restauracích a kavárnách, nad všudypřítomnými 24/7 zapnutými klimatizacemi které jedou na maximum, ať je venku jakkoliv, nad chabými pokusy Američanů třídit odpad, když pak stejně vidíte popeláře, který smíchá obsah popelnice určené na plasty/papír se smíšených odpadem, nad tím, že se zde nepije voda z vodovodu, nad tím, že se jezdí VŠUDE autem, a nad tím, že je to hlavně všem úplně ukradené
  2. PŘÍKAZY – Chcete plavat v jedné půlce bazénu, ale nemůžete, protože tam na vás plavčík nedohlédne, jdete si zacvičit jógu a musíte podepsat třístránkový elaborát, že souhlasíte s případnými riziky, které se během hodiny mohou přihodit, v neděli si nemůžete koupit alkohol, jdete na vyhlídku, a fotky kazí cedule na každých dvou metrech čtverečních, že nemáte chodit za plot, protože je to nebezpečné, turistický průvodce za každou větou dodá „Watch your step“, na záchodech v restauracích je připomenuto, že zaměstnanci si musí umýt ruce (tak to je snad samozřejmost?!), nastartujete auto a počítač vám hned hlásí, ať se na silnici řídíte silničními pravidly…Ano, takhle to tu opravdu chodí. Ještě někdo bude tvrdit, že Česká republika není svobodná země? 🙂
  3. ALKOHOL –téma jako takové dost tenký led, tedy především tady v Texasu. Neříkám, že se potřebuji každý den opíjet, ale ráda si prostě kdykoli při nějaké vhodné příležitosti dám skleničku, dvě, tři…Což se ale tady moc nenosí a obecně to lidé nevidí rádi. Zase jsme zpátky u těch jejich pravidel. Pro zajímavost: nesmíte pít před dětmi pivo, což je pro někoho z České republiky, kde je pivo levnější než limonády, relativně úsměvné. Na občanku se tady ptají úplně každého, i lidem, kterým je přes padesát. A pokud si koupíte nějakou tu lahvinku, dají Vám ji do papírového sáčku, protože prostě jít po ulici s lahví alkoholu v ruce, je pohoršující.
  4. VEŘEJNÁ DOPRAVA – která v některých částech USA prakticky neexistuje. Na to, že si nemůžete zajet vláčkem někam na výlet, jsem si již zvykla, ale ten pocit, že když si potřebujete něco najednou koupit, nebo prostě chcete jen na chvilku někam vypadnout, ale jednoduše nemůžete, protože se nemáte nikam jak dostat, a tím pádem musíte někoho shánět, kdo by Vás tam hodil, je dost frustrující. Ještě někdo si bude stěžovat, že tramvaj má minutu zpoždění? 🙂
  5. NÁBOŽENSTVÍ – obecně nejcitlivější téma ze všech, které dost souvisí s bodem 3. Američané jsou hodně věřící, což naprosto respektuji, ale nalijme si čistého vína, je pro mě někdy těžké si na to zvyknout. Ve školách se učí náboženský vznik světa, před každou větší společenskou akcí se modlí, (některé rodiny i každý den před večeří), v neděli se chodí do kostela, lidé automaticky počítají s tím, že vy věříte také, ptají se, do jakého kostela chodíte vy a jak již naznačeno, nepijí buď vůbec a nebo jen výjimečně alkohol. Jak rikam, pro nas relativne striktni pravidla a nekdy mi prijde, ze je toho nabozenstvi uz vsude moc. Jiny kraj, jiny mrav.

A vyctem bodu by se dalo jeste pokracovat, ale tyhle me prijdou tak nejak nejvic stezejni. Ale jinak se mi tady libi a aby to bylo fer, v pristim clanku ty Amiky zase pochvalim. Oni si to preci jenom zaslouzi. 🙂

Trip to La Grange

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lagrangeOn Sunday, I went to another Texas Czech Heritage Center, which is situated in La Grange, a small town (even though Wikipedia calls that „a city“), to give my presentation and here is my little review. First of all, I would like to apologize for not having more pictures to share with you, but I am seriously missing a professional photographer on my roads. As well as a hairdresser and a make-up artist. I think I will hire these people pretty soon as my mission here is getting more serious :-).

I wasn’t quite nervous until I saw the room where I was supposed to talk: a huge fancy room with a high ceiling, beautiful chandelier and quite a few round tables. To put it simply: very festive. Alice, good luck, I said to myself. Meanwhile, the first people were straggling in. „I recognize you from the picture I saw in the newspaper.“ one man told me. We opened a conversation for a little while and I learned he had come from Houston just to listen to me. Houston is actually around ninety minutes of driving from La Grange, so I feel indeed very honored that he decided to come.

There were more people coming in and I had to get ready before the start of my presentation. They put a small microphone on me, which made me more nervous. I don’t like using microphones, do you? The hall was now full and I couldn’t actually see any free seat. People did come to see me, which is still a bit unbelievable to me. Sometimes I don’t know if this whole isn’t just a dream. Apparently not.

After the short introduction of me that was made by Retta Slavík Chandler – the director of this center, I was about to speak. One long breath before I start speaking. I was just hoping the microphone would not record the beats of my heart. I was nervous. After few sentences, I calmed down, though. The very first sentences are always crucial to get to know my public. As usually, I started with some jokes to see what their reactions were. They laughed. Good. We could go on.

Anyway, I was speaking briefly about my story, and then I shared with my listeners some interesting points of my thesis – pretty much the same I already did in Temple few days before. Some of the people were indeed attentive because they were putting down some notes. How important I felt at that moment! 🙂 All in all, we made it to the end, I heard applause and I could relieve. Or but at least for few seconds. There are always some questions at the end, which might be a tricky part of my presentations, because, of course, I don’t know everything. For example, one lady asked me where the first Czech immigrants took yeast to make kolache. Such a good question, but I really didn’t know. Fortunately, another lady said they had taken it from the Germans. My favorite question, though, was the one with my last name. They wanted to know what it means. My father would like that question as well. Luňák is a hawk. So you can call me Alice Hawk. Pretty cool, I know 🙂

Looking back I have to say I enjoyed every minute of speaking there. Yes, I was nervous, but when people came to me after to say It was wonderful, thank you, please do come to see us here soon, or I will definitely read your thesis, I realize my work is not useless and it is the best feeling ever.

Presentation in Temple

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Whatpicture a wonderful experience for me to present my bachelor thesis about Czech migration to Texas in Temple! Yesterday (August, 9), I had an unique chance to share my „Texas story“ with the Czech descendants who came to listen to my presentation to Czech Heritage Center in Temple. I talked briefly about my study stay abroad in Waco and my first encounter with the Czech culture in Texas (about which, indeed, I hadn´t had any idea before coming there). To put it briefly, I gave them an outline of my thesis and shared some interesting points that I have learned when researching and writing it.

Speaking frankly, I was a bit nervous few minutes before the start, however, all my worries were in vain. The spectators were such nice and friendly people who patiently listened to me, followed my jokes and showed their great interest when both answering questions and contributing to the discussion at the end.

For instance, they wanted us to speak Czech (my dear friend Annie was there as well, so we chatted for a while), so that they could practice their Czech. Some of them were able to understand us very well, which I admire a lot when realizing that these people have been living in Texas whole their life and don´t speak Czech a lot now. Moreover, the immigrants were mainly from Moravia, so the following generations have learned Moravian dialects which is definitely a bit different from what I am used to. So we spoke for few minutes in Czech and everybody was having a good fun.

People also asked me about the recipe for kolaches. This was another funny moment, since I do not know much about the recipes (shame on me), but at least we came to an agreement that the crucial ingredients is yeast :-). Consequently, people started to chat about Czech food, which, by the way, seems to be one of the most favorite topics to talk. They also mentioned sausages kolaches, certainly a mix of Czech and American culture, even though considered by some people as a true Czech recipe.

Anyway, the positive atmosphere that was created during and after the presentation cannot be really captured and described. The presentation was followed by a refreshment and we continued talking. People were coming to shake my hand, say thank you and wish me good luck in my future.

I might repeat myself, but the way the Czech descendants are interested in their heritage and their enthusiasm to maintain it is truly impressive to me. Without any doubt, I was leaving Temple flooded with positive feelings. I am very proud that Czech descendants are such kind-hearted people who don´t forget the homeland their parents or grand-parents are from.

Thank you folks for your support!