This past month, the Bryan community has had the privilege of hosting four students from Palacky University in the Czech Republic. Klára Skopalová, Radka Čalová, Karolína Hovadíková, and Alexandra Večeřová all spent four weeks at Bryan,observing classes, visiting with students and faculty, and learning more about American culture. This program draws on a seven-year relationship with Palacky University, facilitated by both Michael Palmer and Dennis Miller. Since the inception of Bryan’s connection with the Czech school, multiple students have traveled to Olomouc to participate in internships. Faculty have also had the opportunity to teach classes overseas through this program.
As their time in the States draws to a close, the four students agreed to answer some questions regarding their time at Bryan College.
Where are you from and what are you studying?
Klára: I am from the Czech Republic, from a village called Sedlnice, but I am studying in Olomouc at the University of Palacky. There I am studying education. I am studying to be a teacher in elementary school and I am also studying special needs education.
Karolína: I live in a small town called Zlin that is situated one hour away from our university city. I am in the final [year] of the Ph.D. program, studying Music Theory and Education.
Saša: I am from the Czech Republic. I have been studying primary education and special needs education for five years. Next semester, I will graduate and become a teacher.
Radka: I live in Luhačovice in the Czech Republic. I am a student at Palacký University, Faculty of Education, in Olomouc. I am currently in my second year. Specifically, I am studying teaching for the first grade.
How did you find out about the study abroad program through Bryan?
Klára: We have a program called Erasmus +, which is for studying abroad around Europe for half of the year or the whole year… we also have some opportunities to study somewhere around the world, [such as in] China, America, or Indonesia. Because I did Erasmus + last year, I wanted to try something new- I found our university’s pitch about Bryan [online] so I applied, did an interview, and now I am here.
Karolína: I was offered to apply to this program by our university.
Saša: Our faculty offers us exchange programs and the Erasmus program- I applied for this internship.
Radka: Our [school] has opportunities to study abroad in different states and countries. One of these internships is Bryan College.
What were some highlights from your visit?
Klára: Wow, this is a hard question. So far, it is you all – you are really open-minded and kind to us. I really appreciate Mr. Palmer and Mr. Holcomb. They were always so nice to us! And if I was to highlight what I saw, then I have to say the day when we went hiking, because I am a nature lover.
Karolína: I have to say, I really enjoyed the trips planned for us. The most amazing event was the dinner at Mr. Holcomb’s house. His family was so kind to us, and I just want to say thank you for that! I felt at home.
Saša: I really enjoyed observing kids in schools in Dayton. It was a really good experience for me. I am glad that I could be part of classes at Bryan College, especially Martial Arts. It was amazing to visit another state – Alabama.
Radka: Our last trip to Pocket Wilderness in Dayton was the most incredible for me. We just walked through nature and it reminded me of my home. The nature there was pretty amazing.
What’s something you hope others gain from meeting you and learning about your culture?
Klára: I hope that now they will know where the Czech Republic is, and that we are not Czechoslovakia anymore! (I am kidding.) I hope that I [gave] them some interesting parts of our culture, such as what is typical for us or what language we are [speaking]… but what I hope the most is that they will do the same thing as me – take a chance to go abroad.
Karolína: Definitely that some people will find out that the Czech Republic is a separate country. People in the US should learn more about Europe and visit some countries. Generally, we also have some interesting traditions like you do. Come to us and enjoy them!
Saša: I [would] be glad if students knew something new about our country and traditions, because every country is so unique and special.
Radka: I would be really glad if people in America would know more information about Europe and about our history, [as] we have gone through really difficult situations in the past. From my point of view, some people are just stuck in their bubble, where everything is perfect, and they do not know about other countries.
How has this experience enriched your understanding of the world?
Klára: I figured out that I can live everywhere around the world, because you can always find kind and beautiful people who want to help you… what I say every time [I travel] is that it does not matter how it was – great or the worst – [it is an] experience which you will take with you for the rest of your life.
Karolína: As a teacher, I was very curious about the American school system. I had no expectations. On one hand, I really like how the teachers give the pupils the space [to] give their opinion. On the other hand, the teachers still have the respect [of their students].
Saša: I really like talking about different cultures and sharing new ideas. Americans are open-minded and talkative. This internship taught me a lot about others and myself.
Radka: I have a feeling that I am now quite a different person. I will go back to my country calmer than I have been before I went here. Many things that seemed to me like a big issue are not [as large of] problems. I would say that we should not complain about the Czech Republic, because we have everything that we want. I always loved my country, but now I am so proud to be Czech.
Answers have been edited for clarity.