Day One Journal
May 21, 2013
Tags: global leadership
By Chase Nichols and Nadia
We have just arrived in Prague, and the travel was more exhausting than we could've ever expected. The extra sight seeing in Chicago and Zurich was well worth it though. We were all very appreciative of Joan's initiative in asking locals for directions. she was the one who broke the ice in approaching others for advice. We were able to try some cuisine from each of these cities while on our layovers. After almost 36 hours of travel, we found our way to our destination, Prague. Once we got off of the airplane, we met our tour guide, Dharma. He had arranged a taxi to the hotel, and dinner at a underground propaganda pizza bar. This was yet another great feast, and the decor fitted the name of "propaganda", because of the ceilings and walls full of historical Czech propaganda. This bar tied together well with leadership because if the holocaust workshop that we all attended this past semester. A majority of the workshop discussed the impact of the Nazi propaganda during the time of WW2. Seeing the propaganda of another country really widened our perspective on how prevalent this phenomena is across cultures. Even early on in this trip, its clear to see the different personalities that each group member brings to the table. We instantly realized through our experiences the commonalities and differences between each other. additionally, we were able to realize how these aspects of the group would play a role in how the rest of the trip would pan out and how we would interact. The room assignments we received were last minute decisions due to our lack of knowledge of the layout of the rooms. Some of them were expected, fitting, and exciting. Nadia's and Bethany who openly identify as complete opposites were two of which who were paired together. It turns out that opposites do in fact attract to one another, as they are enjoying each others company greatly. Overall, our first leg of the trip was a great success, one in which we enjoyed immensely.
By Anne Harmon
Day one it prague. So many emotions and experiences wrapped up in 24 hours it doesn't feel like its has only been just one day. This morning we were able to wake up to the calm humm of the cars out side our open windows that toll down our little corner of the city. Which brings me to difference number one, no screens on the windows, this is something that is so small but brings such a liberating feeling. After waking up we were uncertain as to what we should wear so we just popped our heads out the window and made our selection. Having the windows open without a screen makes out little three person room feel like it is part of the city not just a closed off section wanting nothing to do with the outside world.
After getting dressed via out new mode of weather telling, we headed for a quick breakfast then off to our walking tour of the city with our terrific guide Sharka (she is pictured between Jason and myself in the group photo taken on Charles Bridge). We were all eager to see what the city has to offer and let me tell you its knows as the city of 100 hundred spires but its truly the city of 100 thousand tales under the spires.
First we went to Wenceslas Square, Good King Wenceslas is the patron saint of the Czech Republic although he never really was the king. On a side note if you get the Christmas carol 'Good King Wenceslas' stuck in your head it wont be there for long, the squares and streets are filled with talented musicians such as the man pictured by the Lennon Wall.
It was in Wenceslas square (pictured here) in the first square within the city that touched and stayed with me the most. This momente is when we learned the story of two national heroes, Jan Palach and Jan Zajic, you won't find any bronze statue of these two young men but rather two small plaques, sided by side hidden in the shadow of an arch of bushess, gated by a row of small candles. Sharka gathered us close and almost wispered the moments that took place in square. The story of these two boys begins in the middle of the 20th century when communism was elected in after the Second World War, and it ended in the winter of 1969 when the two lit themselves on fire in the square just in front of the National Museum, in protest of the communist ruling. Not it was not an accident in my writting, communism was elected in to the courntry. It was not our of stupidity or anything of that sort just strong citizens who saw a bright future after a dark past. (This can be used as a learning tool for us there are so many people who vote yet don't even know ALL the candidates running, education is the corner stone for the future and it can start with education on policial leaders.) While the story of the boys in heroic in and of its self I and a few whom I have conversed with the story of the plaque just as touching. The families of the two boys insisted that no large monument be build in their honor but rather something small because their story and courage is what matters. Actions speak louder than words this is a leadership model we can all take away from these two young men. Your word may once be heard but the story of your actions, always retold and remembered.
I find that admit the horrific history of this small country the citizens still find the value of humility and find the poise to move past their struggles of their and their ancestors past to create a better tomorrow. Never once did our Sharka seem like the world owed her and her county something but rather took moments of silence for the anguish and took pride in the Czech's perseverance and strength. This has been brought up conversation a few times today and how we would like to see more Americans take pride in a better tomorrow without a constant reminder and cry for the past. The past is in the past for a reason it may never give you an excuse to dred on but hope that you can over come and move on.
From Wenceslas Square we continued onto the rest of the city! Throughout the whole day we visited New Town, Old Town, Jewish Town, Charles Bridge and just beyond Charles Bridge. There were so many historical stories and fairy tales of the town I don't even know where to starts so let me give you a little snide bit of what I would like to call the groups day/Prague in 5 breaths of less..."Everyone speaks English, Sharka speaks 5 language!! Budweiser was originated here...sorry die hard American's its Czech! Don't forget to look down every once in a while there are little plaques outside the doors of homes in remembrance of the Jewish Czech who did not return after WW2. Beware of The Golem he may be lurking around in Jewish Town. Everyone smokes here, but it doesn't seem to bother anyone they even have cigarettes on menus, but as I said it is just part of the atmosphere and I can't complain because my clothes don't smell of smoke. (big breathe) And lastly, its completely okay to drive on the curb and walk in the middle of the road, cars wait, and even stop!
Wow what a day in we have had, as I said I can't even believe it has only been 24 hours! Based on today my prospective on global leadership is that I need to learn four more languages! I have such great respect for Europeans and others around the world that know English and other languages. As a globalizing world how selfish is it to not learn other languages! Sharka was telling us that as a young child she had to learn Russian as a second language and now the children learn German, its just natural. Global leadership is much more than knowing the culture and how to respect the culture it is how to participate in it and one way to start is to learn another language. I know personally I am getting ready to make a big life change where learning another language is going to be a must. I can't continue to just expect everyone else to learn English I must do my part as well.
All in all today Prague has open up its windows, doors, and arms to our small group of 9 and we have opened them right back. We can not wait to see what our next adventure in the city brings. I am sure it will be one for the books!