LESS OR MORE? With our colleague Jakub Čevajka

Jakub:

“I am a member of the Roma minority living in Slovakia, and I grew up in a society made of people from the majority, so I grew up amongst white children. People who think we don’t have any problems with racism in Slovakia are wrong. I remember vividly a situation from my childhood, where my mother and I were followed closely by the shop assistants, because we looked suspicious, and they were worried we’d put something in our bags that didn’t belong to us. As a teacher, I cannot imagine judging my students by their background, and even I as a student had such an experience. I used to have a teacher who thought the Roma weren’t willing to work, and so he judged his students accordingly. Those who think there are no people in Slovakia who think in a racist way or have racist opinions are wrong. And I am very scared that one day I will not be able to do what I like, that is work as a teacher, and I will have to go where people went in the past.”

Kristina:

“My first encounters with the Roma minority were back in my childhood. As I grew up in Bratislava, I did not have many. I met some children in school, but it wasn’t always a pleasant experience, mostly negative. But then about three years ago, I went to a Roma settlement for the first time in my life, and it was a very strange experience. I was driving the car, and the High Tatras appeared in front of me, it was so beautiful, I was looking at the mountains, and it seemed as if I was going into heaven. And then, when I passed through the village, and found myself in front of the settlement, it was as if I suddenly entered a totally different world, one that resembled an African slum. Children and dogs were walking through rubbish, and it shocked me so much, but also I felt this very strong feeling that if something like this is happening close to the place I live, I cannot remain indifferent to it. And so I said to myself that after such an experience, I want to start working with these children, and I want to change something, so that they have different lives than their parents.”