Prague - conversations over beers, or how to talk to a Czech person? (Mid July outreach report)


(Cafe Sladkovsky)

This week the Czech tour took place - I went to Brno and Prague to host small, intimate events, during which I could explain what POPrebel is about, look for collaborators to fill constantly un-filled position and promote the idea of sharing stories and getting paid for it.

Brno was chosen because I have some Polish friends living there - they helped me pick the place (which was an amazing collective coffee shop run by… anarchists. Plenty of great workshops, including poliamory talks, were announced on the walls. I felt perfect there - but I also understood why the regulars found it alienating. My bad. ) and promoted the event in their networks. We had 75 interested people… and then it was raining cats and dogs the whole afternoon. It got clear right before the event started, and nobody came. What I have also noticed, is that young Czechs don’t speak English very often - the initial idea was to hire a local person who’d accompany me, in case this would turn out true, but as we struggled to find them, a string of problems occurred. Nevertheless, I talked to all the workers of the space, told them about the call and was promised some help.

Now, the second one was held in a hipster district of Prague, in a beautiful cafe that attracts a mix of middle-class people - old and young, left and liberal. This event was not promoted, so we were ready to step in with @Jirka_Kocian - my mission was to be a bait, go talk to people, ask them to join, and then conduct the conversation while Jirka took notes, and occasionally jumped in with some more specific questions, along with @kuba_svehla. I managed to find two people who’d share their opinions and who spoke English comfortably, a relief after numerous attempts a day earlier when I tried the same and young people would just refuse to have a conversation at all.

Now, I know a lot of people who live in Prague - and only one of them is Czech. I got him on board to share the call, along with a couple of other people. Even if everyone admits that the project is interesting, and the offer we have is great for local standards, they’re not really eager to get involved. Czechs are reserved and stay inside their Czech bubbles. When you ask them about the political situation, they don’t want to elaborate much. It’s easier to get them to talk when you have a beer on the table, though. Lessons learned: get a Czech person if you want to enter their circles and a box of beers.

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At what point can we say this about any society? Can anyone confirm? is there something in the climate nowadays that makes life harder as a foreigner? The expats bubbles report bits of the same - @MariaAlinaAsavei’s friend story is one where she would like to get more social, as a foreigner in Prague. Some facebook women group I follow has people who are taking a stance of foreigner against ‘Czech ways’. Not to mention what some expats say -like in this article:
‘Did you experience discrimination in Prague? I don’t know if I’d call it discrimination but definite unfriendliness. The Czechs are not known for their warmth, and it’s sadly very evident just how cool they are once you start living there.’

Do these small hints mean we should downplay the international part of POPREBEL and focus only on local community building, local problems, local meetups, and especially: local festival?
Thanks for any hints, everyone!

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I don’t know if there’s a point, all generalizations are wrong anyway - but it was an experience people I met in Prague shared. So, I’m making a big generalization here, which also fits, maybe supports even, my experience with the Czechs :slight_smile:

I wouldn’t say we necessarily need to downplay the international part of the POPrebel, let’s first dig and see what’s up with the Czechs to start with and then we can find ways to extrapolate it internationally, or - we won’t.

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