Usti nad Labem Schools and Library

March 2001
The activity of the Stories Exchange Project is not only concentrated in Prague. Our project is alive and well in other towns of the Czech Republic.
One of them is Usti nad Labem, a northern Bohemian town which became internationally famous for the wall which Czech residents on Maticni street put up during the autumn of 1999 to separate themselves from their Romany neighbors.
[See the story “She played the first violin” on the Project Web-page, in the “Learning” menu under “Stories and Responses”]
The Stories Exchange Project has a tradition in this town. Usti was one of the most active centers of story-gathering by the Project last year.
And last summer the local coordinator of the Project, Eva Bajgerova, and members of her team, both Romany and Czech, put up a café-tent—it was white: several Czech visitors thought that was strange!—in the main square of Usti. They welcomed people, offering them a cup of coffee in exchange for stories about their experiences of people who come from different cultures, and children were offered cookies and juice in return for drawings—which were exhibited on the outside walls of the tent.
Since then the Project has established several bases in Usti schools. One is the Business Academy in Parizska Street.
The Project is not a newcomer to this school. John Erwin, Director of the Stories Exchange Project and Eva Bajgerova, the local coordinator of the Project, visited the school last November and Eva gave a short presentation of the Project.
You can read a response to that presentation by the teacher of the class, Jiri Imlauf Mgr., on this Web page in the section “Stories and Responses” in the Learning menu: “They don’t know how to discuss things freely.”
This was not the end of the cooperation. The Project returned to the rooms of the Academy during the third week of the new millennium. Under the guidance of Jiri Imlauf students from two classes [3rd form C and 2nd form A] had an opportunity to get acquainted with our Project Web page. This time the students didn’t have to sit at their desks: they moved to a classroom equipped with computers that were connected to the Internet. They discussed some of the stories on this Web-page and were invited to write their own stories.
[You can also find some of these in the “Stories and Responses” section of this page.
A story with the title “Czech people don’t know how to live in a democracy” is in the menu “Being a Citizen.”
“Begin with the youngest generation” and “Gimme the money” are in the menu “Meeting Others.”]
Another partner school of the Stories Exchange Project in Usti nad Labem is the Secondary Specialized School, Stara 100, where students focus on social issues and public affairs.
As far as elementary schools are concerned, the Elementary School Mojzir is also going to participate in the Project.
You can also find us at the library.
During the second week of March a presentation of the Stories Exchange Project took place in the Scientific Library in Usti nad Labem. It was led by our local coordinator in Usti, David Ferko – who is , by the way, also an author and collector of several stories on this Web-page.
David invited a group of children from a Romany association IKETHANE, which has been working in Usti for several years. Over twenty children between ten and fifteen years of age came to get acquainted with the Internet and with our page.
‘Of course, they were not interested only in our pages. They wanted to know everything that the Internet can offer. They were very curious,’ David said. ‘For some of them, this was their first opportunity to work with the Web.’
The session lasted for three hours and was very successful – and the librarians were helpful and broadminded.
The children will come back to read more stories, write responses and add interesting stories of their own.
David Ferko will be at the Library several days a week to give advice and help to anyone who is interested and who wants to share his or her story – in order to find a common language for people who often do not understand each other.
Gabriela SetunskaCoordinator, Stories Exchange Education Project, Prague and Usti nad Labem
e-mail: gabinasetunska@hotmail.comtelephone: (00420) 607 266862

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