Translator and interpreter Katerina Vondrova left communist Czechoslovakia with her parents in 1981 when she was just ten years old. The family moved to Sydney, Australia and Katerina went to primary and secondary school there, without knowing whether she would ever be allowed to visit her native country again. She was in her final year of high school, preparing for a university course in Australia, when something happened on the other side of the globe that altered her plans and determined her future life.
"Well, there was one particular moment in my life that I will remember forever, I think, and it was November 17, 1989. On that particular evening - it was Friday - we had a graduation ball in my high school, John Paul II, in Sydney, Australia. It was a time when one period of my life was ending.
We still hadn't received our high school final results, and no one in our graduation class knew what they would be doing in the next year, in the following years, anyway. It was a time when we were saying farewell to everything we had known up until that moment and we had no idea what was coming.
At the same time something very similar was happening in Europe, things were changing very dramatically and no one knew what was coming. And on that same night when I was graduating from high school, I could say Czechoslovakia was graduating, too, to freedom and democracy. So that for me is a very strong link between my homeland and my entering into adulthood."
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