I can’t say how thrilled I am to be headed off to Prague — a city I’ve never seen — in three weeks. I must confess some anxiety, howevever — still no place to live! The thing I’ve discovered in my search is how strong the English-speaking community appears to be. I’ve been in touch with dozens of young people from all over the world (all looking to lease or let), and all thanks to our mutual understanding of English! Finnish students, German lawyers, everyone is communicating in English.
In fact, a large part of my job at Dzeno will be assisting in English-language communication. Radio broadcasts, newsletter pieces, networking. There’s something with this that strikes me as a bit strange, though. Part of Dzeno’s purpose is to cultivate interest in and understanding of Romany culture and language, and yet ironically, their realm of possibility is significantly limited without proficient use of the English language.
And I’m uncomfortable with this. Even as a former ESL teacher I’m uncomfortable with this. I am more excited than I can explain to have the opportunity to work with Dzeno on disseminating Roma information and culture, and yet I am somehow uncomfortable, sad maybe, that the more effective way to do this is in English, not Romany.
Maybe it has something to do with accusations of American cultural imperialism. Or maybe I’m just nervous about walking into an established Roma organization — as a 26 year old American! — and claiming to be some kind of expert in communication. There’s that small part of me that has to ask “What do I know?” “How can I help with ECOSOC?” “How can I begin to understand what it really means to be Roma?”
But I’m certain that my fears are largely unfounded. I do know something about communication; I’ve learned some things about ECOSOC; and while I will never share the experience of being Roma, I *will* come to better understand the issues facing this long-oppressed and disenfranchised community.
And in a globalizing world, where internet sites just like this one are a significant source of information and grassroots mobilization, the English language is a valuable communicating tool… and a powerful one. I am honored to be able to use my skills as a communicator, a writer, and a researcher, to help Dzeno bring its message to the European Union and the world. And if the English language is the tool that will allow me to do this, I am proud to be able to offer this service to a community in need of a stronger network and a louder voice.
Posted By Stacy Kosko (Czech Republic)
Posted May 19th, 2004