Do you remember when...?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous (Czech-Related)' started by Polednikova, Jan 2, 2008.

  1. Polednikova

    Polednikova Well-Known Member

    Note from site admin: The first four posts in this thread were moved from Czech borders.

    Would that be good idea for a separate thread? "Do you remember when...?" Although my father was Czech and we had a couple of visits from our cousins during 'normalisation' I wasn't old enough to have conversations about life in the old Czechoslovakia.

    When I came here last December, one of my first conversations with my Czech teacher was when he told me how it used to be for teachers. After qualifying, teachers were told where they would teach. I thought he just meant in which school in the city, which would have been bad enough. But he said it could be anywhere - if you had been overheard criticising the government in a pub, it would be as far away as possible! Imagine having to work where the government sent you...

    I'm sure lots of Czechs here would have interesting examples that everyone accepted then but which to us now seem unbelievable. Even the younger ones will have been told things by their parents and grandparents.
  2. Dana

    Dana Well-Known Member

    Sure! Why don't you go ahead and start it? I think lots of us need reminders of how things were during communism to appreciate what we have now. I could probably think of some absurdities to throw into the discussion myself.
  3. Troll

    Troll Well-Known Member

    I think it is not a good example. The teachers are something like soldiers. They must go everywhere if need arises. It was considered as a liability for service. My mother was a teacher, too. She lived in Prague and was sent to Doksy (near the Mácha lake, luckily not far from Prague). But she was young (20+) and single, so it was not a big problem. I think she was not unhappy there.

    So, how is this problem (uneven distribution of the public schools on one side and the competent teachers on the other side) solved in the UK or USA?
  4. Alexx

    Alexx Well-Known Member

    My entry: CZ/PL borders in 90's.

    As I was 5 during velvet revolution, I do not have much experience. But still, i remember, when borders opened (1990...), there were low limits for certain goods to be imported - one bottle of alcohol for example. In the town of Těšín, which was split between Poland and Czechoslovakia in 1920 (czech and polish part is divided by the river), there are two one-way bridges (checkpoints) (distance about 500m betwen them). So there were people going around from PL to CZ and back again, from one bridge to another, all the day with only one legal allowed bottle (as alcohol was much cheaper in CZ) at once. There allways was (and is) something cheaper on one or on the other side, so there was allways something worth to "smuggle" (usually alcohol, beer, cigarettes, petrol...).

    Custom officers allways asked: "Do you have gold, alcohol, flesh...". I remember once, polish custom officer asked in broken czech: "Vezete sýrové maso" and my mother just said "ne" ("no"). Crash course: "sýrový"="cheesy", "syrový"="raw". So, "Vezete sýrové maso" means "Do you carry cheesy meat"? We was not :)

    In Karviná, where I live, there was only one border checkpoint (abandoned now), which for long years (aprox. 1995-2004) was opened for czechs and poles living in 15 km perimeter only. As there it is not address in czech passports (to prove you are living in this perimeter), we was not allowed to cross it with passport, only with national ID. Just imagine how absurd it was - not to be allowed to cross borders with your valid passport :). There also was allowed to transport NO goods via this checkpoint at all, so if you wanted buy something, you was forced to use another, 10 km remote checkpoint. This checkpoint was created to allow people to visit family on the other side of the border without long travel via next checkkpoint. However, if you wanted to visit your family and wanted to bring a bottle of wine for example, you had to hide it in a car/coat, or convince customs officer it is a gift.
  5. ollie1

    ollie1 Active Member

    I think you should start a separate thread , its a great idea, not only as a reminder but an education to those of us who have never known communism. I,m moved by your memories so please tell me more.
    :) :)
  6. dzurisova

    dzurisova Well-Known Member

    I'm not sure it solves the problem, but to address it, the US has created a school grant program. The government gives college students (those studying to be a teacher) a grant to pay for their college if they agree to teach so many years in an underprivileged school district.

    We also have, in many states, affirmative action (AA) which, indirectly can help to address the underprivileged. Although affirmative action only meets the needs of minorities (women, Blacks, Hispanics, etc), it indirectly addresses the underprivileged. The thought behind it is that minorities come from underprivileged areas (which isn’t always true). Affirmative Action demands that a college or work place accepts so many minorities. The thought is that since these minorities came from underprivileged areas and were not given the same educational opportunities as those from privileged areas, AA gives them the same opportunity to attend a good college or get a good job, regardless of education and qualifications. Many critics of AA state that it’s a racist handout that fails to solve the problem of the quality of education in underprivileged areas.

    Neither of these responses directly solves the problem of the distribution of competent teachers. After all, it isn't the underprivileged child's fault he was born on the wrong side of town. But whoever said the world was fair. It just isn't and when a government tries to make it fair - you end up with communism. :twisted:

    I know this is off topic, but I didn't want to let you question go unanswered.
  7. Jana

    Jana Well-Known Member

    IMO, the problem was somewhere else - it was not about responsing to the needs, but about depriving teachers of one of their basic rights - the freedom of decision. Many graduates came from little towns or villages and would happily teach back home or in the neighborhood; and - as it was said already, the system of appointing them was abused as a tool of punishment.
    My personal experience - as a university student, I got a one-year scholarship in UK (in 1969) and when I got back home, I was considered as a threat to the Czech students ("a bourgeois element and potential propagator of capitalist ideas" - a quote from my personal file issued by the university). I was allowed to finish my studies, but under the condition I would not apply for a teaching job. So I started my professional carreer as a documentalist and photographer of histological samples and bacterial strains.
    Many stories from my life sound like a nightmare to my kids... :shock:
  8. wer

    wer Well-Known Member

    Of course, but this was right for people of all professions, that’s why it is called totality. I think you missed Troll’s point – the specificity of education system which was always central planned, not only under communism.
  9. Jana

    Jana Well-Known Member

    What do you mean by "education system which was always central planned"? The content of education or the management of schooling?
  10. wer

    wer Well-Known Member

    I mean the militarylike structure in personal matters. Even the democratic First Republic did send a lot of teachers to undeveloped regions. Yes, it was possible to leave the system, but you were forced to accept the destined position not leaving it.
  11. PGN

    PGN Well-Known Member

    How about the rush to get all of your paper money stamped in January 1993 when the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic separated into 2 different countries?
  12. wer

    wer Well-Known Member

    In January 1993 there were still attempts to preserve a currency union, but because of Slovak demands which were unacceptable for Czechs, the currency splited in February 1993.

    The spliting of the currency was just a formal moment without significant impact on the people and the separation of the instruments of payment was a long time process (about 10 months). Only the banknotes of big values were stamped quickly. Most of the exchanges were realized via markets during shoping.

    So, there was no big rush because of it, the liberalization of prices or the radical increase of gas prices resulted into bigger rush.
  13. eso

    eso Well-Known Member

    I found 1000 Kčs banknote in cupboard one week after last chance of exchange it in bank expired :(
  14. eso

    eso Well-Known Member

    In late eighties, my good friend (and classmate) waited whole night in queue in front of electronics shop for home computer. It was Didaktic Gama computer (Slovak bootleg copy of Sinclair ZX Spectrum).

    He was first in queue and he got his computer, when shop opened in morning. They had three pieces.

    Now he is American citizen and he works for American government as programmer. He lives with his Czech wife and two children in Charlottesville, Virginia.

    He moved to USA in 1997.

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