|For Romani students
While I am not an especially educated person, I do hold a certificate
in the craft of stonemasonry. I did not continue my studies simply
because for my dear parents, apprenticing in a craft was the highest
imaginable goal. There were no job shortages during the totalitarian
regime - each person had no choice but to work - and manual labor,
especially craft work, was rather well paid. I enjoyed the craft, I
made a good living from it, and I did not feel the need to educate
It’s also necessary for me to tell you that prior to
there were not many Romani people who apprenticed, to say nothing of
achieving a college education. On the one hand that was
most of my peers were educated in the so-called “special
schools”, and on the other hand it was because back then one
could make a decent living at manual labor. The motivation to educate
oneself was much less back then.
Today the situation is different. You are the children of Romani
people, and unfortunately, your entrance into the life of this society
is somewhat more complex today. Your parents comprehended the trend of
this time well, and certainly you are grateful to them for making it
possible, very often at the cost of their own self-denial, for you to
get a college education. You are grateful to the organizations that
financially contribute to your studies. Honestly, you have a great deal
to be grateful for. Look at the educational level of most of
peers. After completing compulsory education, their parents do not
force them to even at least apprentice in a craft, although even these
days the saying applies that “řemeslo má zlatě
(Crafts lead to gold).
Esteemed students, you have received an opportunity to break down the
prejudices that have made our lives so unpleasant, and whether you like
it or not, you will gradually become our representatives. Society will
perceive you as such, and the more of you there are, the less society
will be able to say that we Roma are an ineducable nation.
I will share with you the experiences that I have tested during my own
life. I am respected by those who know me, and my word is worth
something. Do you know why that is? Simply put, people need me
without even being aware of it, through my behavior I have been
naturally, publicly promoting Romipen, and I continue to do so today.
Simply put, I have never tried to make myself something that I am not.
I have remained a Romani man who professes the kind of pure Romani
values for which the majority society has also always admired us and,
thank the Lord God, for which they still admire us.
My wish is that these values will remain with you all as well. Be
college educated, and preserve your Romipen. It belongs to you and
because of it, you will always know where you belong. You
come to know that the esteem others have for your will increase, your
pride in being Romani will increase, and the respect others have for
you will increase.
In order to fulfill that task here, I’ll tell you at least a
little something about Romani culture. It seems a bit curious to me
that I should be telling you something about your own culture and I
presume that something of it has remained with you, in some
Our way of life – of reasoning, of taking action, of thinking
– has always been formed by the environment in which we have
living. Because it has more or less been an enemy environment, cohesion
with our relatives became a main aspect of our culture. That cohesion
made life easier for our kin in an enemy environment.
For that reason, some Romani extended families (quite a few of them)
still to this day acknowledge the responsibility of each member of the
extended family for the honor of the extended family. At the age of 10
or 13, Romani children begin taking responsibility for their younger
siblings, and they consciously aid their parents so their parents will
have more time to focus on making a living.
It is almost always the responsibility of the eldest person in the
extended family to supervise whether that is what is actually
happening. This does not always have to be a man. Without being asked
to do so by anybody, that person consciously prepares herself or
himself and the behavior of the extended family naturally changes
toward that person over time.
None of this is forced. It is considered so natural it requires no
thought and is taken as a natural part of life. When children grow up
in such a family atmopshere, they become respected members of their
extended families over the years to come.
If you ever get to visit a family that runs this way, you will be
surprised by the self-confidence of all the members of the group,
|Seminar on respect and tolerance
During the first weekend in June, Čeněk Růžička joined a seminar for
teachers called “Jáchymka –
Training respect and tolerance”, organized by the
Terezín Initiative Institute.
chat with us helped us connect the topics discussed with your
family’s fate. Your recollections,you’re your
with the work of the Committee for the Redress of the Roma Holocaust,
expanded what we know about an issue that is not yet sufficiently
discussed. Your storytelling was captivating and greatly inspired the
participants. During the closing assessment bloc, the discussion with
you was mentioned several times as one of the strongest points of the
seminar,” the director of the Institute wrote in
her letter of thanks to Čeněk Růžička.