2019/10/01

Fulbrightista v USA: Jak najít školu pro své děti?

Sdílíme článek naší absolventky Hany Kolesové


















Your kids will probably go to public schools, which are free of charge(unlike private schools, where you need to pay tuition). 
There are huge differences in quality of public schools in the USA in various town districts or towns. 
If having kids, living (renting a house or appartment) in good school district is beside the commuting distance to work main important thing to consider. For you similarly as for the US citizens this is the main criteria for finding a rental place, so school rating and school boundaries are oftern link together on the home rental websites. 
Every public school in USA is rated from 1-10 (10 highest) score. The scores are saying how good is the school in particular state. The score reflects the scores in read, math and science, but it also reflects how the students are making progress and how the school is able to incorporate various needs of students (with english as a foreign language this is going to be your child as well).
All informations about all schools is possible to find at:
you can also find there race overview of the students attending the school (which also tells you a lot about the population in particular school district), boys-girls ration, teachers and general info about the school and after school activities. (We have spend a year in US with primary school kids and as the school is ending at 3-4pm kids were pretty tired to do any afterschool activity, even in CZ they have plenty. Lot of the activities are included in normal school curicullum - for our school instrument playing etc.)
Finding a good school district means spend many hours browsing the web, but it is really really worth it. 
Other similar aggregator of school rating is 
From our experience school rating really reflects the overall quality of the school. There is big difference between school rated 10-8 or 3. 
When looking for a home or apartment, both Zillow (even with the map of the school district boundaries) 
and Realtor show you rating of schools in the area. The information are not always 100% accurate, but are enough to get the idea. If on border, one side of the street can belong to one and second to the other school district with very different school rating. 
Generally speaking, based on where you live, your kids can go only to schools in that particular school district. In general, school district is the same as the city where you live. However it is always better to check with local school district which school your chosen home belongs to, before you sign the rental contract.
In some school districts parents can ask any school to take their children. Again, check with your School District Office.
Kids would walk to school or school bus will be stopping in front of your house or appartment house to pick up your kids, so there is usually no need to drive your kid to school. 
School offer for primary school kids Before and After Care (for extra fee) before and after the school. Than you need to pick up your kid at school from it. Also from after school activities, even organised at school you need to pick up your child. 
As your child is probably not fluent in english, he or she will need to attend extra English classes (English as a Foreign Language - ESL classes) as a part of his/her everyday school day. Many schools offers ESL in the same building but not all, in this case your child would need to transfer for ESL to other school. School automaticaly assign ESL classes for the children, with no additional costs. Just another thing to consider when choosing a school, if the school is providing ESL and if your child would need to travel for it. 
We have chosen a school with rating 10-8 little bit farther from work and we were really really glad that we did.

2019/08/29

Jak si sbalit kufry na 10 měsíců na jiném kontinentu?


Přečtěte si příspěvek naší ETA (english teacher assistant) Courtney, která se balila na svůj roční pobyt v Českém Těšíně!

Hello! Or in Czech, Dobrý den! I am happy to share that I have arrived safely in my new home for the next 10 months, Český Těšín, Czech Republic. I am currently writing at a little table in my apartment overlooking the garden and several colorful houses in the neighborhood after spending the afternoon exploring the Polish side of town.
Since Český Těšín is located quite far from Prague (about a 4 hour train ride), I decided that it would be best to pack in one large suitcase and carry-ons. After learning the hard way at London Heathrow during my semester in England that lugging two big suitcases is exhausting, I knew that it would be better to pack light and buy things in the Czech Republic if needed. 
My biggest piece of packing advice is to lay out everything that you want to pack in one central area. I set up a folding table and in the two weeks prior to my departure, I began to lay out items. Using this method helped me both to determine what I still needed to pack or purchase and where I could cut back.
When packing for the trip, I chose to pack lighter in categories of items that I knew would be relatively inexpensive and easy to purchase once I arrived (toiletries, shirts, decor, etc). I was more strategic with things that are either expensive or fit in a specific manner (think jeans, electronics, coats!) 
The packing master (my mom!) helping me roll clothes

Luggage

For luggage I brought one large suitcase, which ended up weighing in at 49 pounds, one large backpack to put in the overhead compartment on the flight, and a black tote bag for my personal item that I plan to use as my work bag here in the Czech Republic. 
I packed the heaviest items like shoes and sweaters in this backpack so that my suitcase would not go over the weight limit! 

Carry-on items

From left to right: Laptop, important documents, small lock, water bottle, camera, portable charger, computer charger, kindle, airpods, regular headphones, snack pouch, various chargers, journal and pens, tic tacs, chapstick, money belt, passport + cover 
Small purse and wallet 

Tops

4 graphic t-shirts for working out, sleeping, traveling
3 workout shirts – one short sleeve, two tank tops
2 plain short-sleeve tops
Three long-sleeve layering tops (navy, dark green, black)
6 blouses (1 did not make the photo) 
2 cardigans
4 dresses that all can be paired with tights in the colder months 

Pants and shorts 

Black jeans, blue jeans, black work pants, navy work pants
3 pairs of workout leggings 
Sweatpants, pajama set, tights, spandex shorts
Two pairs of shorts

Shoes

Flip flops, sandals, black booties, workout shoes, sneakers, work shoes

Winter gear 

6 sweaters of various weights 
3 scarves
3 pairs of gloves, 1 hat, 1 umbrella
4 jackets: Medium weight coat, rain jacket, winter/cold rain jacket, light jacket

Random 

1 swimsuit 
Small daypack and travel towel 
Pillow case (not the pillow), sleep mask, pillow pet
Mesh laundry bag
Small jewelry pouches with versatile jewelry 
Thank you for reading and for supporting my new Fulbright adventure! If you’d like to continue to hear about my Fulbright adventures, please follow me on WordPress or like my Facebook page, @CourtneyTasteTravelTeach where I’ll be posting photos and sharing my blog posts! Soon, I’ll be posting more about my first impressions of my town and about Fulbright training in Brno, Czech Republic. 
____________________________________________________________
This post is not an official Department of State publication. The views and information presented are my own and do not represent the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, the Department of State, the Fulbright Commission, or the host country.

2019/02/15


Fulbright for Posterity: The Ripple Effects of Fulbright on Rural America

by Niecea Freeman, English Teaching Assistant at the Agriculture and Veterinary High School in Lanskroun, Czech Republic

“How about: It’s quality, not quantity?” my dad proposed, wearing a grin. We were brainstorming city slogans for Loyalton, California, my hometown of 800 people nestled in the Sierra Nevada mountains—now named “the Loneliest Town in America.” We all laughed. On the surface, country living seems like paradise, but in reality a myriad of issues affect rural communities across the nation. Employment opportunities are sparse, lower income leads to higher instances of poverty, and—consequently—there is a clear demand and absolute need for higher quality education.

Megan Meschery and her family in Spain, 2008 
When the town’s sawmill closed in 2001, followed by a mass population exodus, Loyalton’s tax revenues declined rapidly and ancillary school programming disappeared with them. First, we lost music and art specials. Later, our middle school was condemned, and students were moved from portable buildings into the high school, losing their separate facilities entirely. In truth, it has only been through the extraordinary efforts of dedicated teachers and community members that our school district has been kept afloat: teachers like my high school Spanish instructor, Megan Meschery, who are determined to redefine our local community without much funding from state or federal agencies.

In 2008, Megan left for a Fulbright grant in Granada, Spain, where she examined how rural economic development funding provided by the European Union reduced inequalities in public schools regardless of geographic location. She sought to find parallels and lessons applicable to rural education in America and to develop ways to promote cultural awareness and growth in Loyalton. While Megan’s experiences rather highlighted the differences between U.S. and EU development models, Megan also returned from her two-year Fulbright burgeoning with ideas tailored to Loyalton’s situation, and immediately found ways to introduce positive change, starting with school electives.My favorite memories from high school are from the culture club she initiated, through which I saw my first Broadway play, Wicked, and visited my first classical art exhibit, featuring masterpieces from Rembrandt and Raphael. These experiences opened my eyes to the world beyond our tiny valley, and change did not stop there.

The Sierra Schools Foundation sponsors hands-on learning opportunities like harvesting chamomile tea flowers in the Loyalton Learning Garden.
The following year, Megan founded a non-profit organization called The Sierra Schools Foundation (SSF – sierraschoolsfoundation.org) to combat inequality in the school district by providing grants for resources and programs such as the STEM Learning Garden, Local-Artists-in-the-School, Advancing to College SAT prep, and others. I volunteered with SSF throughout college, running fundraisers, where I witnessed firsthand how, with dedication and perseverance, local organizations genuinely have power to initiate positive change.

Niecea (right) and her mentor Martina in Lanškroun, Czech Republic.
These formative experiences propelled me to apply for a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in the Czech Republic for the 2018-2019 academic year, where I will be living in a rural community not unlike Loyalton, teaching English to secondary students enrolled in veterinary and agricultural programs. As an undergrad, I pursued a B.S. in Integrated Elementary Education with an emphasis in English as a Second Language with the primary goal of becoming an elementary school teacher in a high-needs, rural community in the United States. Now, I am ready to go forward and learn from the students and families of my host country to explore new perspectives and pedagogies that will reshape the way I view myself and my role as an educator. The quantity of programs in Loyalton’s schools has stagnated, but the quality of our education can continue to blossom.


2018/10/09




DO SOMETHING!



Vyrazili jsme s Jiřím na Hrad. Prezident byl oblečený v tom, co obyčejně nosil – v černém roláku. „Samozřejmě, vy jste missesFulbright,“uvítal mě. „Nikoli, misses Albright,“ odpověděla jsem. To byl začátek našeho přátelství. Tak popsala bývalá ministryně zahraničí USA své první setkání s Václavem Havlem, jehož bustu odhalila Kolumbijská univerzita při příležitosti oslav sta let od vzniku Československé republiky. Právě na Columbii se začaly cesty těchto dvou osobností přibližovat dávno před sametovou revolucí, když si zdejší studentka Madeleine vybrala za téma své doktorské práce vliv médií na události roku 1968 v jejím rodném Československu a seznámila se s Jiřím Dienstbierem, pozdějším československým ministrem zahraničí.

Nádvoří hlavního kampusu Kolumbijské univerzity se i tohoto zářijového dne hemžilo lidmi. Když jsem spolu s dalšími návštěvníky stoupala po schodišti k impozantní budově knihovny nápadně připomínající římský Pantheon, hlavou mi vířilo mnoho otázek. Formulovat odpověď na tu nejdůležitější z nich mi trvalo několik dní. Možná i vás zajímá, proč americká univerzita odhaluje sochu prezidenta jedné mladé demokracie ve středu Evropy a kdo jsou ti lidé v publiku, kteří nemají s Českou (a Slovenskou) republikou ve většině případů nic společného.

Václav Havel zde několik měsíců působil jako dramatik. Cynik by podotkl, že účastníky do Low Memorial Library však nepřivedl jeho odkaz, ale úspěšná absolventka Madeleine Albright. Nemyslím, že tímto způsobem funguje život amerických univerzitních obcí. Kalendář veřejných událostí je stejně pestrý jako kulturní kořeny jejich návštěvníků. Posluchače nespojuje národovecký sentiment, nýbrž ideje. Národní kontext – v tomto případě předlistopadový život disentu – je pouze výkladovým slovníkem. Jinými slovy řečeno: máte-li čím svět inspirovat, není důležité, odkud jste.

Ústředním motivem opakujícím se v proslovech všech řečníků byla pravda a síla ideálů, kterou pro ně Václav Havel zosobňoval. Zůstat věrný těmto hodnotám je totiž mnohem těžší než uchýlit se do bezpečí cynismu. V proslovu Madeleine Albright zaznělo ještě něco dalšího, co je odpovědí všem, kteří nechtějí žít ve světě lži a nenávisti. Ideály je třeba měnit v činy. V USA se vžil slogan "see something, say something." Já dodávám "do something!" Není to těžké, chce to odhodlání, trpělivost a hlavně víru, že máme osud ve vlastních rukách. Té byl v New Yorku plný sál. #havel2.0
http://hana.broulik.cz/blog

2018/08/23


Student Spotlight Interview: Robert Patrick Jameson
by Chloe‘ Skye

Robert Patrick Jameson is a Fulbright student with affiliation to Charles University. He is, in his own words, re-examining the history of the personal computer behind the Iron Curtain, specifically Czechoslovakia from circa 1975 to 1997. In our interview, he discusses how computers were popularized, adopted and used (particularly during the 1980s) and how they influenced the transformation of the Czech economy, as well as his deep dive into socialist-era tech magazines! 



Fast Facts: 
Hometown: St. Paul, Minnesota
Age: 29
College, Major/Minor: M.A. History, Iowa State University. Currently enrolled in History Ph.D program at the University of Kansas, with a major field in Russia and East Europe and minor fields in Urban History and History of Technology.
School in the Czech Republic: Charles University Faculty of Social Sciences 
Favorite Czech Phrase: Strč prst skrz krk – a tongue twister that means ‚Stick a finger through your neck‘
Favorite Czech Food: Vepřo knedlo zelo (pork, cabbage and dumplings)
Favorite Quote: 
“The purpose of morality is to teach you, not to suffer and die, but to enjoy yourself and live.” - Ayn Rand 

Describe your research for me.
I'm re-examining the history of the personal computer behind the Iron Curtain, looking at the case of Czechoslovakia from circa 1975 to 1997. The common view among historians of technology is that socialist countries like CZSK inevitably failed to successfully adopt personal computers for ideological reasons (control of free speech, bureaucracy) and reasons related to the inefficiencies of centrally planned economies. I acknowledge that those were important factors, but I look at other reasons as well: a cultural orientation to Western technology, the USSR as a monopsonistic market for CMEA computers, endemic poverty, language barriers, and the lack of a public constituency for computers in CZSK. 

I also examine how computers were popularized, adopted and used (including computer skills) in late socialism, especially the 1980s, and how that created a core of knowledgeable users that drove the Czech economy's transformation into an information and service economy over the last three decades. Day-to-day, my work consists of reading through and copying sources from the popular and professional technical press, like Sdělovací Technika and Věda a Technika Mladeži, and oral interviews with Czechs and Slovaks involved in the computing scene in the '70s, '80s and early '90s - computer scientists, programmers, repair technicians, youth club leaders, physicists, and so forth. 

What makes the Czech(oslovak) situation unique?
I am looking at the Czech government‘s efforts to adopt personal computers, which begin in the late 70s with their attempts to reverse engineer the famous Intel 8080 microchip. They produced their own copy in 1980 with the company Tesla (which was headquartered in Bratislava at this time). About four years later they started producing their own personal computers, which were used predominantly in Czech and Slovak schools. But the Czechoslovak governments invested a lot of money into reverse engineering or importing Western technology to the country and trying to teach kids to program as well as basic computational skills. They wanted to popularize computers as the next big thing and update the economy. It was ultimately a failure if you consider the spread of computers or number of computers available. But even with computers being so scarce in the 1980s in this country, there was still a generation of kids who grew up being able to fix their own machines and write their own software and videogames, for example, because you couldn’t buy them or they were too expensive. They were a very technically savvy-generation that led the way for the tech and information economy in the 1990s and early 2000s.

How have you been discovering more about this time period?
There’s a popular kids magazine that’s still being published called ABC, or Abičko. There was a section where, in the 80s and 90s, readers would write in and say, ‚Okay, I have this computer and I want this game or software, and I can trade you this kind of game or software,‘ so you can track who has what computer by their actual addresses across the country. I have mapped them out. A lot of them are in Prague or in other major urban centers, but you also have a concentration of people who were lucky enough to live in small towns or villages along the northern border, You‘d have people who would cross over into Poland, which had looser regulations at this time, or would cross into Eastern Germany to get computers imported from West Germany like the ZX Spectrum or the Atari 800. Czechoslovak versions were all over the country and they weren’t well-liked, but they were distributed.

How do you find interview subjects?
A lot depends on luck or a daisy-chaining process where, once I‘ve established a rapport with my subjects, I ask them to connect me to one or two people they know, for example someone who was in their computer club, a private collector or someone who taught at their school. I‘ve been fortunate that they always think of other people and possibilities.

Have you encountered any challenges in your time here?
In my research I’ve been fairly fortunate because I’ve been here before (editor’s note: this is Robert’s fifth time here, and he has been coming to CZ on average every other year for the last ten years) and I knew what materials I could use, like the magazines I mentioned previously. Otherwise it’s just being an outsider in someone else’s country for a long period of time. For me personally, I’m more interested in the history and not so much getting into the Czech cultural milieu. I’m already used to the pork-eating and beer-drinking culture (laughs). But it doesn’t feel like a vacation to me. I mainly do my work, sometimes I go to conferences and I travel to interview people. Overall, the main challenge is that I miss family and friends back home.

What has been most rewarding about the Fulbright program?
Without Fulbright, I couldn’t do my research and thus wouldn’t be able to finish my Ph.D program. This would have represented a big blow professionally and personally. Fulbright gives me an invaluable opportunity by providing funding and the organizational scaffolding without which I wouldn‘t be able to accomplish what is essentially my life‘s work.

2018/07/27


Student Spotlight Interview: Vera Pfeiffer

by Chloe‘ Skye


Summary Vera Pfeiffer was serving the past academic year as a Fulbright Student Researcher through an affiliation with Mendel University in Brno, Czechia. She does research on how the scale of agriculture affects bumblebee foraging patterns. Read on to see what traditional village bee hives are like and how the Communist period affects her subject. She does not have Czech ancestry but doesn’t mind if you call her Věra!

Fast Facts  
Originally from: Virginia
Age: 31
American University: University at Wisconsin, Madison - Environmental Ecology
Czech University: Mendel University
Favorite Czech word or phrase: ’jedna báseň’, a poem, as in, “This food is like a poem!” (very delicious)
Favorite Czech food: segedinský guláš (a type of goulash with cabbage)
Favorite Quote: Co jsi to provedl, Pepíku?” – from a Cimrman play

Tell me about your research.
I study agriculture and resource management, including urban and forested areas surrounding Brno; for example, in Šlapanice. The scale of agriculture is the more traditional, smaller scale but there are also some areas with largescale agriculture more like the US, and these were consolidated during Communism. My research is about how that gradient affects bumblebee foraging patterns. In the US, small farms and big farms are more heterogeneously distributed, whereas here you can see the contrast more conspicuously. It’s easier to study landscape-level processes in these more representative areas.

Where do the bees come in?
I take samples from bumblebees after catching them with hand nets and anesthetizing them briefly. To understand something about bees, you should know that they use their front legs to grab on and land and their back legs to collect pollen. I collect their middle legs, which they don’t need to forage. It may sound terrible, but it’s not! This helps me study the community foraging differences in terms of farm size and urban and forest boundaries.

Did you encounter any difficulties?
It was pretty funny walking around in the fields. There was a lot of human interaction in these small towns outside of Brno. Sometimes I could explain my research in Czech, but sometimes it was too difficult!

Why did you choose to come here specifically?
I chose Czechia because it’s a very good example of [landscape distribution]. Aldo Leopold, who founded the field of Ecology and was a professor at Wisconsin, visited CZ and was influenced by the landscape planning strategies as well as local management ethic. This includes the hunter clubs that needed to do surveys of the wildlife, take wildlife management classes and keep track of it in their area to be a hunter.

I have heard of that and it is interesting how the labor is distributed among people who hunt. What do you think about the Czech attitude towards the environment?
There are areas where people are still very connected to producing their own food, like community garden areas with plots together, while during Communism a lot of the larger areas were consolidated into big farms. Nowadays some families take pride in their tradition of community resource management, while some are more distant.

Have you seen any examples of traditional beekeeping?
I once visited a village in the countryside and got the opportunity to see traditional bee hives. There was a large stump with a face carved into it, with holes in the mouth where the bees go in and out. It was like a big, round, hollow piece of wood with a decorated top and was really interesting for me!

What about the results of your research?
I am still working on it. First, I need to finish the DNA extraction and genetic work on the bees. This isolates rapidly changing DNA sections and is very useful in an ecological sense for family clustering that captures the most diverse aspects of their genetic diversity. This way I can estimate colony density and do colony assignment in order to map the colony foraging.