Current Affairs This year’s St.Wenceslas Day dedicated to Czech expats
September 28th is St. Wenceslas’ Day or the Day of Czech Statehood and this year it is dedicated to Czechs living abroad. To mark the occasion Czech Radio, Czech Television and the Czech Foreign Ministry are co-hosting a project called “Czechs abroad” which aims to bring more insight into the life of Czechs who have settled abroad and made their mark there while maintaining strong links to their native country. The head of Radio Prague Miroslav Krupička explains the idea behind the project.
“There are an estimated 2.5 million Czechs or people of Czechoslovak origin living abroad, most of them in the US, and that’s a large number of people so the idea was to bring these people together with the Czechs living here and have then exchange ideas – interact somehow, to put those two worlds that are separate together.”
So what exactly is taking place?
“There are a number of interesting events. One of them is the expat conference which starts on Wednesday. It is a two-day event and there are about 200 people registered from more than 20 countries. They will exchange ideas about how they live, what they do in their communities what their problems are, whether they have maintained the Czech language, whether they have maintained their cultural heritage, a special book will be published on the life of Czechs abroad and so on and so forth –so it is really a festival of events and publications.”
Apart from portraying the life of Czechs abroad this project allows Czech radio and tv audiences to elect the greatest Czech living abroad in a popular vote. How does that work?
“We- or rather Czech Radio -appealed to the public, to our listeners - to give us nominations and received hundreds of suggestions naming Czechs living abroad. We selected twenty of them, both important, interesting and well-known people and complete unknowns scattered around the world, people of all age groups so that we had a good representative short-list of candidates. And then we invited listeners to cast their vote and support one of these personalities. The voting took place in the past four weeks and ended last Friday. We are now counting the votes and the top three are Bohdan Pomahač, a plastic surgeon living in the US, Madeleine Albright, the former US secretary of state, and Bela Gran Jensen from Norway who established the Centipede charity. The winner will be announced on the day of Czech Statehood – on Friday September 28th. The week of Czech expat activities will culminate with a gala event at Prague’s National Theatre on St Wenceslas’ Day and the winner will be announced in the course of this festive evening on Friday.”