I feel that pretty often here, my life is more of the same.  I go to work, I cook dinner, I go running, I watch movies.  I almost feel bad writing this blog, because I worry that my everyday life in Prague is not particularly interesting.  Maybe I’m not putting myself out there enough, but I don’t really know what that would entail.  I’ve gone out to lunch with a few of my co-workers, so I’ve kind of made some Czech friends.  Does that count?

This past weekend, I went with my friend Christina to something called EthnoFest 2009.  Christina is only here for two months; she’s a grad student in Switzerland who is doing an internship for an NGO called The Advocacy Project.  The group works to improve relations between the Roma (better known as gypsies) and the Czech people.  The Roma are the largest minority in the Czech Republic, and probably the most reviled.  Almost every Czech person I have encountered who has mentioned the subject HPIM2181rolls their eyes and says something nasty.  Christina has been working in direct contact with Roma communities all over the Czech Republic this summer, and her blog is much more interesting and meaningful than mine.

At EthnoFest, we had a chance to see some traditional Roma music and dancing, which is extremely similar to Spanish flamenco, as flamenco has its origins in the Roma/gypsy community.  There was a fairly large crowd, and it was nice to see a show of support for something that is normally so despised.  I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that the way the Roma are treated borders on (if it isn’t flat-out) racism.  Everyone only talks about how they steal, how they’re all in gangs, how they have too many children.  As Christina points out, that is a result of circumstances, not ethnicity.  As a poor, marginalized group, they don’t have access to the same resources as “regular” Czech people, and thus the entire cycle perpetuates itself.  Having spent the day with Christina and meeting her Roma friends, I can’t say that I found them to be any different than the Czechs I have met.

HPIM2170This is the world’s tiniest, cutest flamenco dancer.

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