Being Myself

I mustn’t become white

Zdenka SvobodovaJuly 2000Milan H. is a tall and well-built young Romany man. He is twenty-six, and works as a policeman in a town in Central Bohemia. I recorded this story while we were sitting in the kitchen of the council flat where he lives with his wife, who is white. At his request I am […]

I have a heart, and it’s not Czech

Hanka KozurikovaLibice nad CidlinouI was born in Kolin in 1966 to Anna and Koloman Conka. They had already had two boys; I was their first daughter. My mom was from the vicinity of Poprad in Slovakia. The village where she was born is called Lucivna. A Czech historian of the Roms, Milena Hubschmannova, has written […]

The totalitarian regime left its mark on me

Eva RidajováNové StrasecíThe totalitarian regime left its mark on my childhood. I come from a Romany family, and the totalitarian system aimed at eradicating Romany culture. As far as our large family is concerned, they very nearly succeeded. Our parents assimilated. They brought us up in the Czech way, as the regime prescribed. They wanted […]

I am Katerina

Katerina SidonovaPraguei.My father’s father was Jewish. I never met him. He died during World War II when my dad was only two years old. He was killed in the Small Fortress in Terezin, the Nazi camp. That was all I knew about my grandfather.ii. There was a portrait of my grandfather, an oil painting. It […]

You also have to be prepared to tell your own story

John ShattuckU.S. Ambassador to the Czech Republicin conversation withJohn W. ErwinDirectorThe Stories Exchange ProjectU.S. Ambassador’s ResidencePrague28 November 2000John ErwinWhat about you? What did you learn here?John Shattuck:Well, I think I learned more patience, and I learned to listen. Americans are often much too impatient. We tend to jump from one thing to another. We also […]

I did not keep my promise

Dezidor Lacko [written by Hana Kozuriková]Jarovnice, Slovakia August 2000My daughter Darina was very pretty. She had long wavy hair and full lips. She had her first baby when she was sixteen, and by the time she was thirty she had eight children. She looked after them all. She was also a good housekeeper and a […]

You can always count on us

Zdenek Ridaj Nove Straseci July 2000 I come from a Romany family. We’re seven brothers and sisters. I’m the eldest. These days, children and young people are in danger of drugs. Unfortunately, it struck our family, too. I was trying to decided whether I should write about this and finally decided that I would: it’s an important […]

People can’t look down from the heights

People Can’t Look Down from the HeightsInterviewer: Kveta ConkováSpeaker: AnonymousPragueJune 2000 It all started in 1997 when I was eighteen. I had a job that I really liked. I worked as a clerk in a small electronics store. I would go to work each morning, and was happy all day long. When I came home […]

The Change

Emilie HorackovaMimonWaist-long golden hair and eyes like the sky: I longed for this beauty. I wanted people’s hearts to melt the moment they saw me. I wanted to change at any cost.I wanted to change, and change I would!I invoked both God and the devil to come and grant me what I asked."I want to […]

For a moment, she was beautiful

Author: Eva Bajgerova/Ms. ZapasnikovaLocation: Usti nad LabemMs. Zapasnikova is about fifty, a simple woman but a great storyteller.She told me this story in my office, where she likes to come. She always tells me something new and interesting."I was about fifteen when some boys from our village were playing in a cafe in Rimavska Sobota. […]