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14 posts categorized "Culture"

05/18/2018

Spring 2018 Issue III

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Two Overnight excursions to Terezín&Auschwitz and Munich&Dachau - The Holocaust in the Films and Literature of Arnošt Lustig

Students of The Holocaust in the Films and Literature of Arnošt Lustig course, along with their Professor Josef (Pepi) Lustig, had a unique opportunity to travel and participate in specially designed overnight class excursions. Some of them have shared their trip experience with us.

'The best experience of Pepi Lustig’s class was the excursion in Munich, to the Dachau Concentration Camp. This experience was the most touching because it was the first trip we went on as a group, so we really got to bond as a class and with Professor Lustig. His knowledge about the history of the Holocaust is unlimited, and it was an honor to listen to him speak about Dachau and the atrocities committed there. All excursions were especially touching because our class truly got a different view of the Holocaust and the camps, which is why I think this class is so special and important.' - Gabriella Hagedorn, DePauw University

The first overnight excursion was to Munich and Dachau. The group of students visited Munich as the first stop of the excursion and had a guided tour of the historical Nazi parts of the city. The guide was very well prepared with multiple documents, pictures and maps which all helped students have an even better experience of visiting the historical places. A part of the excursion was also a visit of the Munich Documentation Centre for the History of National Socialism documenting and addressing the crimes of the Nazi dictatorship and their origins, manifestations and consequences right up to the present day. On the following day, the group led by professor Lustig visited the first concentration camp at Dachau. The Nazi government started the first concentration camp in Dachau, Germany, in March of 1933. It has been renovated and preserved as a memorial to those who suffered and died there between 1933 and its liberation in 1945. Dachau initially housed political prisoners; however, it eventually evolved into a death camp where thousands of Jews died from malnutrition, disease and overwork or were executed.

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Upon arriving in Dachau, the group was faced with weather that was all too fitting for the events that took place there in the past: with a fog so thick you could not see the building the group was walking to, cool breeze and sky so gloomy one could not help but feel the despair that still lingered in the air. Nevertheless, the students appreciated this weather even more since it gave them a very real glimpse into the suffering of the inmates that were once imprisoned there.

The second overnight excursion to Terezín and Auschwitz was pretty impressive as well. Students gained even more in depth knowledge about the Terezín work camp during a discussion with the Professor and also his aunt (on the day following the excursion). The next day in Auschwitz was full of moving adventures, from a visit of the Auschwitz concentration camp (where Professor Lustig's father himself was imprisoned for several years), walking around the Nazi Party headquarters to the visit of the concentration/extermination camp at Birkenau.

As students have said, visiting Dachau, Terezín and Auschwitz was an eye-opening experience in so many ways. For instance, Mrs. Hanna (Professor Lustig's aunt) provided our students with countless invaluable insights into what life in the camp was actually like since she had to endure the horrors of life in the camp herself. It is indispensable to visit the sites where these crimes against humanity were committed in order to understand the full extent of the Holocaust. All excursions with professor Lustig were a powerful experience.

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02/27/2018

SPRING 2018 Issue I

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Getting to know the Czech Republic

During the first weeks of Spring 2018 students' stay in the Czech Republic, CIEE Prague staff organized various different activities which enabled students to familiarize themselves with Czech culture, as it is crucial for students to learn about their host country so that they feel and can adapt better in terms of the culture shock.

Students had the opportunity to learn more about the Czech Republic in two lectures delivered by CIEE professors which were held during the on-site Orientation - Czech History Intro and Czech Republic Inside Out. Both of these lectures provided our students with the necessary background information in terms of Czech history and culture. For many students it was actually their very first time hearing about the creation of our country and our unique traditions and customs.

CIEE Prague staff also prepared an exceptional interactive competition for its students, as part of which they had the chance to test their knowledge related to the Czech Republic. An online orientation quiz was published at the end of the first week and students could compete against each other in terms of the facts covered during the Orientation. The winners received unique goodie bags full of Czech sweets and souvenirs.

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1st place – Klea Kalia (Barnard College)

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2nd place – Mary Koontz (University of Massachusetts Amherst)

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3rd place – Sam Rosenthal (Ursinus College)

Another way of introducing students to the Czech Republic was through an active exploration. At the end of the second week of the on-site Orientation day excursions outside Prague, as part of which students visited other regions of the country, were organized. The Czech Republic is often called the "land of castles" since it has the most castles and chateaus per square mile in the world. It is something that Czechs are very proud of and they enjoy spending their free time visiting these spectacular buildings. On the other hand, breweries and beer industry in general are key constituents of the Czech economy and beer itself plays an important part in Czech culture as well. During the day excursions students thus visited one of our beautiful castles and also had a tour of a local brewery. During the castle tours, they learned how the aristocrats lived in the past and also discovered how beer is made and what role it plays in the Czech economy. There were two different destinations students could choose from - the Sychrov Castle and the Svijany Brewery or the Křivoklát Castle and the Krušovice Brewery.

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A lot more activities enabling students to learn more about the Czech Republic will be organized during the semester and CIEE Prague truly believes that students will consider the Czech Republic to be their second home by the end of their study abroad adventure.

 

12/15/2017

FALL 2017 ISSUE III

CIEE Christmas Party

On the evening of December 11, CIEE Prague hosted its annual Christmas Party for all its students, professors, buddies, homestay families and CIEE Prague staff.

With Czech Christmas carols being played in the background and the delicious smell of some of the most traditional Czech Christmas dishes lingering in the air, the event started with the arrival of St. Nicholas, the patron of children and magical bringer of gifts, who was accompanied by Krampus, the Christmas Devil, and the Christmas Angel as one of the oldest Czech Christmas traditions dictates.
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After having been gifted small gifts from them, our students were invited to taste the Czech Christmas menu – fried carp, schnitzels, potato salad, mushroom-groats risotto dish called "Kuba", Christmas cookies and the Christmas bread (including gluten-free and vegan options).

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Students could also give a go to various Czech Christmas traditions and customs, as there were 4 Czech Christmas DIY stations. The 4 activities were ginger bread decorating, making of paper snowflakes and paper chains and floating walnut shells, an activity that Czechs do to tell each others' fortune.

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Students from all our 4 programs (Central European Studies Program, Communication, New Media & Journalism Program, Film Studies Program as well as the Global Architecture & Design Program) attended the event and had a jolly good time with all the other guests!

11/02/2017

FALL 2017 ISSUE II

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Excursion to the Morava Region

CES, CNMJ, FS and GAD program students, along with Eva and Zuzana, all had a unique opportunity to participate in extraordinary extracurricular excursions at the beginning of the semester. CIEE Prague staff came up with two brand new destinations for the Fall'17 semester.

The first excursion was an overnight one focused on the Moravia region. The objective of this trip was to explore the Moravian culture and to learn about its traditions and customs by visiting multiple interesting places.

The first stop on this trip was the magnificent and largest karst area in Central Europe – the Moravian Karst. The group walked through the caves leading to the famous Macocha Abyss, some 452ft deep gorge surrounded by eerie myths and legends. The tour then continued to the Punkva Caves, where the group sailed along the subterranean river Punkva. The Moravian Karst is, without any doubt, one of the Czech Republic's natural wonders which will wow every visitor. Many students mentioned the Moravian Karst as the highlight of the trip in the excursion feedbacks. Later on, after having tasted local dishes, the group of students and trip leaders were transported to Mikulov, one of the most beautiful towns in the Moravia region.

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The historical town of Mikulov is located in the south of Moravia, just a few kilometers away from Brno near the Czech-Austrian border. Located on the Palava hills and surrounded by vineyards, it is well-known for wine tasting. Since wine-growing and wine-making are essential elements of Czech culture, the group was introduced to different types of wine and nibbles that go with wine-tasting by a professional wine connoisseur in the evening.

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Fall in the Czech Republic is a very colorful and beautiful season (if it isn’t raining, of course). Although it rained during our second day in Mikulov, the students still enjoyed the Mikulov guided tour very much.

The group then visited one of Europe's most remarkable – the Lednice chateau, built in the English Neo-Gothic style. The chateau tour was a great experience, especially thanks to the guide. The Lednice chateau is not only about the splendid interiors and architecture, but the French-style garden with its palm tree greenhouse, the Masonic wall and the chateau grounds freely blending into the open countryside are also worth a look.

Excursion to Bohemian Switzerland

The other brand new excursion was a hike to the Pravčická Brána. This excursion was the most successful one out of all Fall'17 excursions – a waitlist for students who did not manage to sign up on time actually had to be created due to the immense interest. Despite the bad weather at the departure from Prague, everyone was full of hope that it would be sunny in the Bohemian Switzerland region, which it was when the group arrived at the destination.

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Since the excursion was actually a hike, it allowed us to explore more than just the Pravčická Brána, since the region offers a lot more landmarks and beautiful views. Having put on our hiking shoes, we set off on the marked trails to explore more of the region's beauty. We passed the romantic Hřensko gorges and the Gabriela's Trail, where you can see unusual sandstone rock formations.

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The Pravčická Brána indeed has a fairytale atmosphere, which is evidenced by the fact that the famous Danish fairytale author Hans Christian Andersen wrote part of his “Snow Queen” fairytale here. The landmark has also charmed Holywood filmmakers, as several scenes of the Narnia Chronicles were shot here.

04/06/2017

INTERNSHIP STORIES FROM PRAGUE

NewsletterBannerPrague686x101My Dream Internship in Prague by Ellen Lechman

When I started the application process for interning in Prague, I was nervous. I had never really had an internship before, and I had no idea what it would be like to work in a foreign country. Now, a few weeks into my internship, I am so glad I chose to do this program. I get to intern with an organization I love, get credit for school, and have an incredible new item for my resume!

After the interview process, I was matched with the National Technical Library (NTK) here in Prague. NTK is the largest science and technology library in all of the Czech Republic, and it’s a popular study spot for students of all subjects living in Prague. I’m working towards a career in library and information science, so getting to intern with NTK is a perfect fit for me.

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In the United States, the stereotype of interns is that all we do is make coffee and answer phones. I’m happy to say I am doing much more interesting work with NTK! I make videos promoting library services, copy edit materials for the website, and learn about the library field from an entirely new and international perspective. Not only do I get to expand my knowledge and experience related to libraries, I’m learning new skills in filmmaking and editing.

In general, interning has added so much to the study abroad experience. I love getting to interact with Czech people in a professional setting and learn about how the Czech work environment id similar and different to an American work environment. This internship has also showed me new parts of Prague I might never have discovered on my own. Lastly, interning while studying abroad helps me feel like I’m really making the most of my experience by getting outside of “the American bubble” and doing more than just typical classes. I can’t wait to see what else my internship has in store for me!

Co-working in Prague – Bringing together an International Community by Shannon Keirsey

Just about two months ago I came to Prague to begin my study abroad and, of course, internship experience. I am interning at Locus Workspace and could not be happier with how it has added to my time studying here in Prague. Locus is an English speaking international co-working space. This means  that people who are independently employed, but still want to have a space to call their office and people to call their co-workers can get a membership and be a part of the Locus workspace community. That is where my job comes in.

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I am a community event intern, so I help to organize, promote, and facilitate different community events within the workspace to improve the overall quality of co-working. I have worked on events like “Embodied Leadership,” “Negotiate Like a Pro,” and “IT/IP Business Operation – Legal Aspects.” At each of these events a professional speaker on the topic came in to hold a professional development type seminar to refine skills within their topic. Other types of events include “Weekly Coffee Break,” “Hump Day Pump Night” and “Locus Mafia Night.” It is at these get togethers that members have an opportunity to get to know one another on a more personal and fun level. I’m grateful for the opportunity to work behind the scenes as well as to participate on all of these events.

Working with other professionals is both interesting and beneficial to me as a business major. Having the chance to meet and talk with the members, each of which has a distinct international personal story and entrepreneurial spirit, is a huge perk of the job. I think that much of the cultural perspective and true immersion I am getting here in Prague comes from working and talking with the different Locus members. I’ve learned a lot in this position already and look forward to continuing to implement best practices around community event planning and expanding relationships with the uniquely interesting businessmen at Locus.

Gaining an Old Appreciation by Cece Thomas

At first, the abandoned looking warehouse on the other side of the tracks took me aback. I couldn’t figure out the vibe MeetFactory had when I first walked through the door. It was unlike anywhere I’d ever worked before and I genuinely started to second-guess my internship experience before it even began. What I didn’t know though, was that it would help me to realize just how much I missed working in a creative field.

I’ve always considered myself a creative person, and throughout my life my creativity has changed with me. When I was five I was painting with my grandfather, at ten I was playing piano, and at fifteen I was dancing during football game halftime shows. By the time I got to college though, my creativity was focused solely in my schoolwork. I got further and further away from the things that I loved as a kid because I didn’t have the time. It never occurred to me that my future career could have an artistic outlet until I started my internship at Urban Space Epics here in Prague.

The first couple of weeks weren’t really anything to write home about. I went through an orientation, learned how the studio functioned, and helped run the communication aspects of the studio, which included editing web content. It was relevant to what I was studying, but I wasn’t excited about what I was doing. My mentality totally changed once I got to document the Open Studios event. This event is where MeetFactory opens their doors to the public to experience what the artists in the studios are working on, present new installations, and view experimental concerts. It was by far the liveliest, funkiest, and most eye opening experience I’d had so far in Prague. The feelings of appreciation I’d had for art when I was younger, the wonder and need to create something of my own, bubbled back up. I realized that art can take on many different forms and that I could easily incorporate it into my career. I’d have never considered working in an art gallery before, but my internship has helped me see that it really isn’t so different from what I want to do. I could have a career where I’m exposed to art every day, and still work within the world of communication and business.

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Getting out of my comfort zone, and working at a place that I would never have considered before helped me to realize that there are many paths that lead to the same place. I don’t have to choose a career where I paint, play an instrument, or perform to feel like I am participating in an artistic way. Even though the exterior is a little rough, Urban Space Epics has already helped me gain back the appreciation I had for art as a kid and I can’t wait to see what the next few months have in store.

04/03/2017

Spring 2017, Issue II

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Faculty-led and Custom programs are becoming increasingly popular and Prague has become one of the top travel destinations. In 2014, CIEE Study Centre in Prague hosted its first and only faculty let program of that year. The number of these short term programs has rapidly grown over the past two years and twelve programs are scheduled to take place in the capital of the Czech Republic in 2017.

The Faculty-led programs season of 2017 kicked off at the beginning of March with a one week program called “Macroeconomics and the legacy of Communism in the Czech Republic” for Marymount University. 18 students and 2 faculty members participated in the program.

As the group had only one week in Prague, the agenda was carefully planned to ensure they could see, learn and experience as much as possible. The entire group had the opportunity to visit unique organizations as well as to meet interesting members of the Czech society.  Among the organizations our group visited was Libri Prohibiti, a library which has a unique collection of samizdat literature. During this site visit the group also met Jiří Guntorád, who is the founding member of this organization and who used to publish books that were forbidden by communist authorities and supported local writers during communism in the Czech Republic.

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A big part of the program were guest lectures with local professors and scholars. The topics of these lectures mainly concentrated on political, historical and economical aspects of the Czechoslovakia during the communist era. Nonetheless, the guest lectures also included current topics, such as the Brexit.

The group also travelled outside of Prague to the small town of Příbram, where they visited the Vojna Lešetice Memorial – a former labor camp. They learned about the dark side of Czech history, when political prisoners were forced to work in uranium mines during the communist era. At the end of the trip the group also visited Svatá Hora, a beautiful Baroque monastery where pilgrims from all around the Czech Republic travel to as it is believed to have magical healing powers.

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CIEE team also planned various extracurricular activities for Marymount students. One of them was a high culture event at the National Theatre. Students dressed up for the cultural evening and attended an opera performance, Die Kluge/Der Mond, which was based on the fairy tales of the Grimm brothers.

Another extracurricular activity which proved to be a great success was a cooking lesson. The event took place in the Study Center and all students, who were divided into smaller groups, learned to cook some of the traditional Czech meals. On the menu were delicious potato pancakes, potato salad, rum balls and open sandwiches. The group was joined by a local student from the Charles University who taught them to cook like a local. Students could not only learn to cook Czech specialties, but they also had the opportunity to interact with locals of their age.

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The first faculty let program of 2017 has proven to be a great success and the Prague team is now preparing for a busy summer, eagerly awaiting the arrival of the next group of students.

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02/10/2017

Spring 2017, Issue I

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Helping the local community

CIEE Prague Study Center has organized a Charity Date Auction as part of the Graduation Ball event for all study programs, in which all participants were Fall 2016 students. It was the second Date Auction in CIEE Prague’s history and it was a well-anticipated charity get together event.

The main goal of the Auction was to collect money to support the Život dětem Foundation (Life to Children Foundation), a non-profit organization established in 2000. After a discussion with the director of the Život dětem Foundation, CIEE has decided to hand over the raised amount of money to Karolínka. This 9 year-old girl was a victim of a very bad car accident six years ago, after which she became incontinent and had several back injuries. Unfortunately, these injuries were so serious that Karolínka can´t feel her legs. The collected money (4 600 CZK) from the Date Auction went to Karolínka's new wheelchair.

CIEE Study Center Director and Program Coordinator handed over the money to the Director of the Život dětem Foundation and obtained a certificate about having donated. This meeting has also been a great success in relation to a new project called “Kolíbanky” (Lullabies) which will be a part of the volunteering program. Students will get the chance to write a short story about the place where they live and send their region's typical lullaby to the radio where Kolíbanky will be promoted to kids. Or students can come right to the radio and record their lullaby on site.

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All CIEE Prague staff is involved in helping the local community continually throughout the year: some design volunteering programs and events, such as the Treasure Hunt for children from local orphanages and disadvantaged families, others support local businesses employing disabled or socially disadvantaged individuals by organizing program events in these cafes and restaurants. Apart from these long-term commitments, we also organize much bigger events to involve students, professors, buddies and staff. More people involved allows to collect much larger sums of money, which we can then use to help those who really need our support. It always warms our hearts to see that our efforts, no matter how big, make a real difference and brighten the lives of the less fortunate and motivates us to continue helping the local community.

02/26/2015

Living in the Czech Republic

written by Kara Caskey (DePauw University)

I have now been living in the Czech Republic for exactly one month.  It is hard to believe that it’s already been so long.  It’s also still surreal to me that I’m living in the Czech Republic.  Just wow.  It’s gone by with such speed and I feel as though I was just saying my goodbyes to family and friends before getting on the plane.  At the same time, though, it’s also hard to believe that I only have three months left in this city.  If the first month flew by as quickly as it did, I cannot even imagine how fast the next three are going to go.  I already don’t want to leave!

The two free weekends that we’ve had thus far I’ve stayed put in Prague.  I begin traveling this weekend, which is exciting, but it’s also been so helpful to get to know “my” city a little better before I take off and see the rest of Europe.  It’s amazing how a little exploration and a few wrong turns can lead you to a little hole in the wall restaurant that becomes your favorite.  In my opinion, wandering is the best way to learn about a new place.  I’ve never lived in a large city so it was definitely overwhelming at first but I honestly couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.  Prague is a truly amazing place with so much history and beauty.

I have already learned an incredible amount about being independent and living in a foreign city in the short month I’ve been here.  I’ve learned that Americans are possibly the loudest people on the planet and that it’s better to shut my mouth on public transportation.  I know a few survival words and phrases in Czech that can get me by in a pinch, especially when I’m hungry.  (The two weeks of intensive Czech class were definitely a must and I’m so glad they {forced} us through them.)  Finally, I’ve come to realize that I live in what I would biasedly classify as one of the prettiest parts of Prague.  Vyšehrad, previously a castle (hrad) on a hill (vyše) is a tremendously unique and historically relevant landmark in Prague and I just recently took a stroll around its beautiful fortress and gardens.  It’s safe to say that in the coming months as the weather warms up you will find me reading, picnicking, and enjoying the beautiful sunsets right around the corner from my dorm.

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10/10/2014

A Tour of Prague Castle

by Avarie Cook (Framingham State University) 

A Tour of Prague Castle

Earlier this week, Profesor Homerova took a few CIEE students (including myself) on a tour of the Prague Castle and the surrounding areas. During the tour, she gave us plenty of information about the history of Prague and the lifestyle of those in the upper class society. Here is a video of the tour with “Fall in Love” by BADBADNOTGOOD to entertain your ears while you watch. Enjoy!

06/10/2014

Brno

written by Danielle Corcione

I spent this weekend in Brno, the second largest city in the Czech Republic, with my classmates and professor. Interestingly enough, while Prague is historically a Bohemian city, Brno is Moravian. Before the area became known as the Czech Republic, and even before it was combined with Slovak lands as Czechoslovakia, the region was divided into three: Bohemia, Moravia, and Silesia.

There was no better way to gain an intercultural understanding than traveling to another area within the country. Since I am taking an anthropology course, this was especially important to my academic experience abroad. Instead of a guided tour of typical tourist attractions of the city, Brno residents showed us places where locals frequent. It was refreshing to explore a new place without feeling like a generic tourist. Stops of the tour included different cafés that specialized in Turkish coffee, soup, and fair trade food. Needless to say, I was impressed.

On Saturday afternoon, we walked over to Brno’s Romany district for the third annual Ghettofest, a street festival to celebrate Romany music, theater, film, dance, and discussions. This year, one of the objectives of the festival was to attract and engage people outside of Brno to the city. Our class listened to an entire set of a singer/songwriter, followed by a performance of traditional Romany dance.

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