I left Tabor around 11am by train to Prague for the Fulbright Workshop. I arrived in Prague around 12:15 and met Calan and Brock at the train station. The three of us navigated our way (and got lost of course) to our hotel Villa Lanna. Monday was the day for travel so Calan and I went to Wencelas Square to do some shopping. Since nothing fits me in Tabor, Prague is the PERFECT place for me to do some shopping.
WE met up with the other Fulbrights for dinner Monday night. I am not exactly sure of the numbers but I think there are around 9 teacher assistances (all from the US) and researchers from the US either doing their PHd or whatever in the Czech Republic.
During the week, we had many workshops from various previous Fulbrighters (Czechs who had been to the US and are back). Topics covered Czech culture, school system, politics, and social issues. Some were very informative and some not so much.
Tuesday night we all got dressed up and were treated to Don Giovanni at the Estate Theater. To be honest, I was NOT looking forward to the opera. Three hours of singing in Italian was not my idea of fun. But the theater was spectacular and they actually had a screen with subtitles. I didn't realize how funny Don Giovanni was. It either translated funny or they didn't translate it correctly...either way, it was amazing. Calan made a good point that the reason the opera lasts so long is because they repeat everything like 5-10 times. It definitely was a highlight of the week. The other interesting cool thing is that the Estate Theater was the FIRST place that Mozart premiered Don Giovanni. To be sitting in the same place that Mozart conducted was so surreal.
On Wednesday we all went to the US Embassy (actually the space they rent because the actual Embassy has too much security to get in). We were debriefed by various employees of the State Department. It was nice seeing the American Flag. After our debriefing we went to a pub to meet some of the employees. They were so nice to meet with us and talk with us. I didn't know that Embassy employees are only stationed in a place for two years and then they are moved to a new location. I thought they stayed in once place forever.
Thursday we took a three hour tour of Prague. It was very interesting to get the inside scoop of the city. They took us to the street during communism they took the disruptors. It is a famous street but sorry, I don't know the actual name.
Also they told us about an example of actual corruption. You can see that the building is sticking INTO the market square. The building was suppose to be inline with the rest but because of corruption they were able to get more space.
Thursday night we were invited to a house for an Embassy cocktail party. All the state employees we had met the previous night were there as well as all present and past Fulbright participants, and the current headmasters, mentor teachers. The house was extremely beautiful. The story has a history of itself. During WW2 the family that lived there fled. The Nazi's occupied it as their main headquarters. Because it was their headquarters they actually took care of the house. After WW2, the soviets occupied it for a couple of days. Finally, the US arranged a deal with the Czech Republic to forgive war debts for purchase of the house. So for $2 million dollars at that time, the US purchased the house. Not until much later was the original family was compensated for the house. Today it is US soil and used at the house where the US Ambassador lives in the Czech Republic. Currently Obama has not appointed an ambassador so maybe I will apply...ha. There are two surviving daughters from the original family and they live in the US. One comes to visit on a regular basis.
The party was wonderful and it was great to meet a lot of new people and make a lot of new connections.
Friday morning, Calan, Brock and I took off in the morning for Rome....stay tuned for the next post.