• International Spotlight: Final CultureLink Tea presentation of the semester features Czech Republic today.

    Vera Pospisilova will present on  her country – the Czech Republic – for the final CultureLink Tea event of the semester. The presentation will take place from 3 to 4 p.m. today, Wednesday, May 2, in the Anderson Student Center, Room 202.

    As an English and history academic, Pospisilova will bring the Czech Republic’s colorful but tumultuous history into the spotlight. She hopes to provide “an insider’s view” of the Czech Republic’s past and its future ability to contribute to the global community by means of politics, civil rights, sports and culture. 

    Pospisilova heard about the exchange student program from her university in Prague. Having arrived in August of 2011, she has made a home for herself within the St. Thomas community. She has been active in both the Concert Choir and the Women’s Choir, along with participating in the Globally Minded Student Association (GMSA), where she carried her country’s flag during the International Dinner opening ceremony.

    The Prague Castle, an ancient symbol of the Czech lands, was most likely founded around the year 880.

    The Prague Castle, an ancient symbol of the Czech lands, was most likely founded around the year 880. (Click image for a larger view.)

    Her main objectives of studying in the United States are to improve her English and to learn about American history and literature. Pospisilova feels that American students are offered more academic help by means of counseling and writing services than Czech students. She prefers the personal attention she receives from small classrooms compared to the 100-person lecture halls she has at her university. Pospisilova encourages American students to “appreciate the education they receive, because it belongs to the best.”

    Born in 1988, Pospisilova doesn’t remember witnessing Czechoslovakia transform from a communist regime to a liberal democracy through the Velvet Revolution, to the independence of the Czech Republic in 1993. The effects of such large events are still present today. 

    Education played a significant role in her upbringing. As the youngest of three girls, she witnessed a sister become one of the first Czech students to study abroad. Like her sisters, Pospisilova aspires to teach. She’s passionate about teaching English and history to students in secondary school. “History is fascinating, especially the 20th century alone,” she said. “Our country was abused so many times – (it has) changed the mentality. We need to teach history, because people are forgetting. Young people are not interested. We don’t want history to repeat itself.”

    Thanks to Skype, Pospisilova has been able to avoid homesickness by communicating with her family; however, she does miss the food and the beer. “It is the best in the world … we are the top consumer,” she laughed. Finally, she misses the history and the vibe of Prague. “When hundreds of years surround you, it forms your identity,” she said

    The Charles Bridge is a historic bridge that crosses the Vltava river in Prague, Czech Republic. Construction on the famous bridge started in 1357 and was not completed until the beginning of the 15th century.

    The Charles Bridge is a historic bridge that crosses the Vltava river in Prague, Czech Republic. Construction on the famous bridge started in 1357 and was not completed until the beginning of the 15th century. (Click image for a larger view.)

    Pospisilova promotes studying abroad in the United States to international students because the approach to education is different here. Studying in America has also led her to develop friendships with other international students that she normally wouldn’t have met in the Czech Republic. It can smooth animosity between people and promote cultural awareness. Her life philosophy flows from this point, adding: “Respect other people’s beliefs and philosophies. Be understanding. Respect is the biggest thing. A quarter of the problems of the world would end if people would stop and listen to what others have to say.”

    Finally, she advises international students to carefully arrange their travel plans because it is impossible to see everything. 

    Pospisilova’s immediate plans includes going home and finishing her undergraduate degree; she is considering a program in Poland for the summer. She hopes to visit the friends that she made while studying at St. Thomas and work. Beyond her undergraduate studies, she plans to pursue a Master’s of Education in the Czech Republic.

    Pospisilova invites the campus community to her presentation today. Tea and snacks will be provided. She wants to promote her country to show that “Czechs have something to offer to the world.” Pospisilova warns that her presentation will not contain a lot of tourist information, but she hopes to inform her audience of places outside of Prague and facilitate an open conversation about the cultural differences between Americans and Czechs.

    Please join Vera Pospisilova for this event – 3 p.m. today, Wednesday, May 2, in the Anderson Student Center, Room 202.

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