December 15, 2016
Czech Republic Captivates International Scholar
West Virginia Wesleyan College graduate Emily Rose ’16 of Owensboro, KY attended the 60th Summer School of Slavonic Studies held at Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic. Rose was awarded the newly-christened Dr. Harold T. Elmore, Hon. ’82 Emeritus Club Endowed Scholarship for International Travel in the spring of 2016.
A double major in international studies and gender studies with a minor in sociology, Rose’s interest in the Czech Republic stems, in part, from her lineage. “My family on my mother's side is originally from Prague, which is what sparked my interest. I wanted to go back to my roots and learn the language of my ancestors.”
She also understood and appreciated how things she learned in her time at Wesleyan intersected with and informed issues that face the Czech Republic today.
Rose spent four weeks overseas, from July 29 to August 26, taking in the beautiful architecture, rich history, and vibrant culture of Prague and the surrounding areas. The Summer School of Slavonic Studies draws students from all around the world who are interested in learning more about the Czech language while immersing themselves in the local context. Rose spent five hours a day in intensive language courses, focusing on Czech vocabulary, phonetics, and grammar. Additionally, seminars and workshops were offered on a range of other topics. Students enjoyed singing popular Czech folk songs, while excursions and immersive experiences helped participants flex their linguistic muscles and absorb the local history and culture. For fun, Rose enjoyed swimming and sunbathing by the Danube River and having discussions with some newfound British, Irish, and German friends about the differences in intercontinental English.
One of the most powerful experiences Rose had was a visit to the small town of Lidice. Adolf Hitler had razed the city to the ground in 1942, blaming the residents for the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, who had been sent to suppress the Czech resistance. The tour group was greeted by a tall mausoleum overlooking the rolling hills in the area, one of the few visible reminders of the brutal loss of life. Women were torn from children and sent to concentration camps, while men over age 16 were executed. Only 153 women and 17 children survived. On seeing The Children’s War Victims Monument by sculptor Marie Uchytilová in Lidice, a monument dedicated to the children who died, Rose commented, “It was... surreal to walk down these roads and think that it might have been the same way one of those women had walked to work, or one of the children had gone to school. At this memorial, we stood in silence for several minutes…”
The entire experience of traveling to the Czech Republic was life-changing for Rose, whose passion for issues of equality and social justice emerged during her time at Wesleyan. Having learned about the horrible reality of human trafficking through her studies, Rose began exploring how this particular form of modern day slavery plays out in Eastern Europe. She aspires to work with organizations in the Czech Republic that combat human trafficking in all its forms.
Emily’s experience abroad has enriched her educational experience at Wesleyan in unimaginable ways, and she exemplifies the College’s mission to create students who demonstrate their local and world citizenship through service through experiences that connect classroom education to real-world experiences and challenges.
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