„As many languages you know... What do you think about this"
I am accepting your challenge and am replying.
The best way will be, if I tell you my life experience.
I remember the death of T.G.M., I remember the general mobilization.
I remember the March 15. 1939.
As a consequence, study of German language was compulsory from the second grade of elementary school. In 1945 our class was speaking German almost fluently.
After May 9, 1945 everybody was avoiding German language.
After February 1948 study of Russian language became compulsory.
Again, we spoke fluent Russian in 1950.
Hitler closed all Czech secondary schools, in 1945 these schools have been open again.
I have applied for admittance. After passing entrance exam, I was accepted by the Classical Lyceum in Uh. Hradiště, where study of Latin was required. Later we had the opportunity to select another language.
Our class chose English. Shortly, at the Lyceum we were exposed to four languages: Czech, Latin, Russian and English.
After Lyceum I studied at the Charles University in Prague. In September 1953 my wife, my friend and I, we crossed the Bohemian forest into Bavaria. There we fully appreciated the full value of the knowledge of German language.
In Nuremberg, we applied for a status of Political Refugees.
This process was very lengthy – it lasted full eight months.
This waiting time I used for improving my English and for study of French – we wanted to be prepared for emigration from Germany. At the time we received the Political Refugee Status and Asylum, I was able to hold a conversation in five languages (even concurrently with five different persons) – in Czech, German, English, French and Russian. The knowledge of languages, primarily English and German, and Bavarian work permit gave me the opportunity to search for emplyment, which I found at radio Free Europe in Munich.
In December 1955 I left for New York, U.S.A.
From Munich I brought very good recommendation from my American supervisor at Radio Free Europe.
At that time, employment had to be waiting for every imigrant to the USA.
My work was to pay me minimum wages. I wanted to get a diploma from an American university.
At that time we already had a son and no scholarship existed for students with families.
Minimum wages were not enough to support my family and pay for my studies During Christmas Holidays I was searching the ,Help Wanted‘ pages in the newspapers.
My knowledge of languages allowed me to search employment only two weeks after arriving to the USA, independently, without anybody’s help – though, I mustn’t forget the very good recommendation from Munich. I received an employment at the New York Times, Co. in the engineering department with almost triple the pay. That allowed me to fully support my family and moreover pay for my studies.
My wife devoted her full time to care of our son; she was not working outside her home – her employment was her family.
I attended the university as any American student and had to fulfill all conditions required of American students. Only after I satisfied all the requirements, only then I was accepted as a regular student.
I graduated in June 1960.
Clearly, without any doubts, the know-ledge of languages opens gates to the whole world.Joseph Slovacek, Oregon, USA
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