I have not traveled alone since Peace Corps to Africa nearly 30 years ago. I’m excited, nervous, and both ready and not ready. I will live in Ostrava, Czech Republic, which is off the beaten path for tourists in Moravia-Silesia, about 15 minutes from the Polish border. I will collaborate with faculty from Ostrava University to study the Czech foster care system, particularly for older youth as they transition to adulthood. My blog, however, will be more about my personal experiences than my research. I hope to also shine light on Czech life and culture beyond Prague.
Fulbright Orientation in Prague
(15-19 Sept. 2018)
It was a whirlwind 4 days in Prague. They kept us busy morning til night with lectures and seminars and outings. They took us to the national opera house to see Libuše and to the U.S. Ambassador’s house for a reception (the ambassador was not there so I guess we just crashed his house to party). The Fulbright Commission is primarily run by Czech women who are interesting, competent, and engaging. One has a master’s in math and started a Ph.D. in physics before switching to education. Evidently many people who might have been interested in social sciences or humanities opted for hard sciences under Communist rule because it steered clear of dangerous politics.
Even for an extrovert like me, this was a lot of socializing. Everyone was new. Just as we got a little bit comfortable with each other, they brought in academics from around the country who had read our CV’s and wanted to network with us. Then they took us to the embassy for more schmoozing. There are 32 ETA’s (English Teaching Assistants) who are newly graduated young people – they teach in the high schools and arrived a month ago so they already knew each other. Then there are 10 scholars, 6 of whom who are here to teach at a university in their discipline and one who is doing both teaching and research. That leaves only three people like me who are only here to do research.
But I connected with two strong, smart women scholars, Michelle and Harmony (below)
We couldn’t be working in three cities any farther from each other, though. Harmony is far south, very close to Austria. Michelle is far northwest, right next to Germany. And I’m in Ostrava, in the far east by the Polish border. Just as we were all starting to connect, it was time to disperse across the nation to our requisite host cities. But the three of us set up a messaging group with an awesome creative title: PowerFul Bright Women.