Tuesday, September 05, 2006

i got hitched

So the wedding was a big success, in that it did, in fact, marry us, and that it went pretty smoothly, too. It was pretty great, actually, but like all our friends told us, it also went by in a snap. So much build up for one quick day. But it was worth it. We're waiting on pictures now, and a video.

So now that we're married, we thought it'd save time and trouble if we just kept the world up on our comings and goings with just one blog. Here is that blog:

www.joelandchrissy.blogspot.com/

Thanks to those of you who came to visit this little one-year storybook of mine. Even though there won't be anymore posts here, I'll keep it online for a while, in case you really liked the speedo story or the medovník recipe and can't live without 'em. And such.

Tak. Sbohem, old blog. I hope to see ya'll at the new place, friends.

Na shledanou.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

sharing back

Whatever overlap you have with a foreign place or person, culture shock goes both ways.

Take food, for example. The past two years have been one taste experience after another, from my first knedliky to last week's borsht. But as my Czech friends share the ins and outs of their lives (and cookbooks), occasionally it falls to me to return the favor with some new-to-them American recipe.

So Ondřej tried peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (not bad, but do children really eat this every day?), and Lenka sampled chai tea (an odd name for Czechs, as their word for tea is "chai"), and Pepa asked for a second helping of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream (it took twenty minutes just to explain the name).

To celebrate that summer has come at last, I've been attending garden parties this week. So, partly out of fond gratitude for my friends' kind hospitality, partly to clean my cupboards before heading home, and partly just to see their reactions, I've been taking some American staples with me for my friends to try out.

Today I introduced Petr, Jirka and their wives to pumpkin pie. Sure, it's out of season, but as Jirka so deftly put it, "When is it food, is it good for me." And when they tasted it, nobody minded that it's a typical Thanksgiving dish; rather, Zdeňka asked if I had brought turkey as well.

Root beer floats didn't quite go over as well. My Tuesday afternoon conversation group gave them a fair try, but in the end I was left with dirty dishes and polite words. Only Eva's husband gave his unequivocal support. And Pepa, who I thought was a sure bet, said outright that it was strange and he didn't like it. When I asked him if he wanted more, he replied, "No thanks; I don't need any cough medicine."

Jara just wanted to taste root beer straight and he didn't have a cup. But his approach didn't do much to quell the cough medicine critique.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

for the record

World Cup soccer is in full swing in nextdoor Germany, and the world (minus most people in the USA) is reeling over it. On a worldwide scale, this month-long soccer tournament is the biggest single sporting event in the world---and that includes the Olympics. And the world does take its soccer---excuse me, football---seriously.

For the last World Cup (2002) I lucked out, studying abroad that very month in Spain. The baseball-loving American that I am, I probably only would have heard about this big affair later, maybe as a short blurb on the news had I been stateside. But our language school was situated on the third floor of a cantina consistently packed with Brazilians. We were interrupted by every shot on goal. Furthermore, when the Spanish national team was eliminated in the quarterfinals, vitriol filled the Spanish airwaves to a degreen I've seldom heard, even for sports. The questionable call that robbed Spain of its would-have-been winning goal was aired as the headline story on national news broadcasts every night for two weeks. No kidding.

And let me tell you: the Czechs take the Cup no less seriously. After all, FIFA, the leading soccer federation that hosts the Cup, ranks the Czech team 2nd in the world, right behind perennial maestros Brazil. We'll see how it plays out.

Yesterday the United States played the Czech Republic in each team's first game, and for the record, in spite of my current residence and the contagious nationalism of my friends and colleagues, and in spite of my own country's general apathy towards the sport, and in spite of the fact that an American win would have made the next day inconvenient if not in danger, I could not bring myself to cheer against my home country. From now on I will cheer on the Czechs and hope that my Americans can recover from the loss and scrape together the two difficult wins we'll probably need in order to advance.

But for the record: this American cheered for America.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

two recent quotes





"I don't get it. You have aunties but you don't have uncle-ies."
- Veronika


"I will borrow you my dress."
- Jirka, who then lent me his jacket





Monday, June 05, 2006

the middle of the end

So last Friday morning I attended my last ISŠTE classes' graduation ceremonies. ISŠTE holds these ceremonies in Sokolov's very own castle (which has been painted pink for some reason, but it works) in a room normally used for weddings. Only one class-worth of students and parents can fit into the room at any given time, so all together I attended five ceremonies over two Fridays. Actually, I really like the intimate feel that doing it like this provides, nobody getting lost in a long line of every graduating student in the school.

And it fits in other ways too, namely that graduation isn't as big a deal here as it is in the States. All the big pomp and circumstance happens at the ples (the big midwinter "prom" dance). These graduation ceremonies mostly involve the handing out of final grade reports, a few short good-bye speeches by the principal and the class teacher, and lots of pictures.

So if giving finals last April was the beginning of the end, the end of maturitas and the last good-bye of my graduates is the middle of the end. And now that June is upon us, the official countdown has 20 school days left and 25 days until I board a flight back to California.

This week: the second round of final exams, another week of good-byes (some of them last good-byes), and lots more packing and grading and closing up of another year.

4.PV - Management and Law students. I taught the x half ("my girls") for two years and inherited the y half from my teammate last year.


4.TL - Technical Lyceum students. I taught the x half for two years (they sat through the first lesson I ever taught as a professional teacher, and I'm not sure who was more nervous) and inherited the y half this year.

4.PE - Electrotechnical students. I taught the x half of this class (the one that studies English instead of German) this year. This class once tried to electrocute me for fun.

4.PM - Management and Accounting students. I taught the m half of this class for two years and taught the v half this year.

4.PD - Automechanics students. I taught the English-learning half of this class this year. Maybe on average their English was among the lowest in the fourth form, but nobody ever matched these boys for enthusiasm.

Monday, May 29, 2006

roots

Like most people I've ever heard of, I've never met my great-great-great grandmother. I'm not very disappointed by this, and I'm sure she would have felt the same way, really. But when I first came to the Czech Republic, my great grandmother (we call her Granny) reminded me that we had relatives from Bohemia---my great grandfather's grandmother came from a small village in what is now central Czech called Velvary.

I remember seeing a picture of her once---when I was building a family tree in the 3rd grade. I only remember her last name---Kerr, which sounds more German than Czech to me, but even now it's not uncommon for Czechs to have German names, and before fifty years ago Bohemia was home to a large German community. Granny tells me that the Kerr family left Velvary and Bohemia to come to the United States to be missionaries. It's an interesting turn of the story that I should return to their home as a Christian-in-another-place just as they left it.

I have no idea at all where they might have lived or what work they did, but here are some pictures I took this weekend when Chrissy and I went to Velvary for an afternoon.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

hello american boy!

Some lowerclassmen apprenticeship students working hard during ISŠTE maturitas.