Czechia (Czech Republic)

The setting:
The Czech Republic serves as an interesting site for cross-cultural learning and exploration. A former part of the Soviet Republic Czechoslovakia, Czechia reflects remnants of their socialist past alongside a newer capitalist mentality. Portions of the country - particularly the capital city of Prague - are thriving economically due to tourism and foreign investments, while in other areas many citizens continue to struggle financially. While increasingly diverse, Czechia is still overwhelmingly homogeneous, and racial tensions between the majority Czech population and subcultures such as the Roma continue to be an issue. Long thought to be somewhat culturally backward due to the geographically irrational assignment as "Eastern European," the Czechs actually provide a very interesting balance between Western ideals and their former Soviet ideologies. This distinction is especially noticeable when interacting with people of different generation, such as within families. In addition to these important areas for social inquiry, the Czechs also have a strong cultural identity. A long and proud tradition in the visual and performing arts continues to imbue Czech society, making it a richly creative and expressive locale. 

1. Focus on experience and course objectives
This cross-cultural experience focuses on a social and cultural immersion within the city of Plzen in western Bohemia in the Czech Republic. Students will embed in this small but vibrant Czech city and, through daily contact with host families and peers from the local university and schools as well as a series of guest presenters, students will come to understand the perspectives, values and cultural expressions of this small nation.

2. Lodging and meals
Students will spend the majority of their time in the city of Plzen living with host families. These families will provide daily breakfast and occasional additional meals depending on your programming schedule. Czech homes are fairly small and most of our host families have at least one proficient speaker of English, so students have the opportunity to spend time interacting with their hosts and helping with basic chores such as shopping and meal preparation while discussing ideas and exchanging perspectives.

3. General programming
Each day, students will make their way to a meeting point at one of the local schools using local mass transportation. Daily activities will include exploration of the city, development of "survival" Czech language, and presentations by guest speakers from the university and community to introduce students to important social and historical information. Our itinerary will also include some guest presenters involved in the local community to provide historical context as well as current information about Czech society. In addition to our local liaison, Pavlina Bezdekovska, and our host families, we will have a small group of bilingual Czech student assistants who will accompany us for all excursions and events to assist with language and cultural questions and to provide Bluffton students with the opportunity to interact their Czech peers on a daily basis. We will also build in three free days for students to use for shopping, playing sports or spending more time with their host families. 

Leaders: Kate Spike
Dates: June 13-30, 2022
Program fee: $2,600
Deposit: $300 due Dec. 1, 2021
10-15 students

Contact
Elaine Suderman,  Asst. Director of Cross-cultural Programs
sudermane@bluffton.edu
419-358-3360

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