An Immigrant's Website

"Some people live an entire lifetime and wonder if they have ever made a difference in the world, but soldiers don't have that problem. " Ronald Reagan
One of the Many

I am one of the many thousands of Czechoslovak refugees who came here in the U.S. during the Cold War escaping the communist dictatorship in their home country. The reasons of permanently leaving my home were not any different from the majority of the many thousands of other refugees from Eastern Europe. I just wanted to live a decent life without the necessity of double faced life: Showing one personality full of lies in the public and the real one to my friends and family. click for more...

I got so much sick of this that I made a decision to leave once for all never coming back including not ever to see my friends, family and the place where I grew up. Despite that I didn't accumulate too much of wealth since my coming into the land of opportunity in terms of monetary value, I never regret my decision. Yes, even despite that I got homesick many times during my escape and even now after all these years I still miss many of my wonderful friends and family I grew up with. I am extremely thankful to the people of America for giving me the chance to come here and live in peace the life I was once dreaming about. And the most of all, I am thankful for giving me the chance to serve God and this country in its armed forces enriching me by real and unique experience to see and learn what the world and human life is really all about...

The Decision Making

I was just about 13 or 14 years old boy growing up in Prague, Czechoslovakia when the realization came about what is actually happening around me. Such a realization was made possible mostly by the family environment and especially my father's daily routine of listening to the Western radio broadcasts in Czech and Slovak languages by BBC and Voice of America (VOA) several times a day usually starting with BBC morning broadcast at 7:30 to 7:15 AM at the breakfast table and ending up with one hour of VOA broadcast after dinner from 9:00 to 10:00 PM. This routine that I adopted from my dad made me aware of the realities in the world far more than most people around me, which set me clearly apart from them and made my life increasingly uncomfortable. click for more...

After the Basic Nine Year School (equivalent of Junior High School in the US) I left to study in the four year trade school - Industrial School of Electrical Engineering (equivalent of High School plus two years of College in the US), where my study performance was not too exciting, but I finished it with successful completion of the exit exam. The next stop was a job as an engineering technician in one of the big government owned enterprises (actually all the enterprises, factories and businesses were government owned at the time), where as being not a party member I had no real chance to engage in a promising career, but on the other side the conditions were not too bad; I earned a wage for the first time in my life and the work wasn't too hard either - in a culture of double face and constant cheating I was able to enjoy life with not too long shifts leaving my workplace quite often before my eight and a half hour work day was over. Since the successful career without the party membership wasn't the option at the time, I tried to seek the success at the university. The next year after I started my job I filled an application to become a student at Czech Technical University of Prague - Faculty of Electrical Engineering (ČVUT). I felt that I excelled at the entrance exams and when I almost started celebrating my new status, I received a cold shower in the form of an official letter of refusal from a very strange reason that I didn't met requirements at the exam that I supposed I excelled in. Unfortunately, I wasn't fully aware of my family background and especially of the background of my father, who as a senior officer in the old Czechoslovak Army being fired and later imprisoned for not expressing allegiance to the new communist establishment and the brotherhood with the Soviet Union. I learned that during an encounter with the school administrator, who rudely threw me out of her office when I inquired why I wasn't accepted despite the success at the exam. One of the pillars of the communist regime was that the elite was supposed to be composed of the folks with correct descent, which meant having wrong parents (like a father of a wrong social class) was a definite stop for a career one would desire and it would not be normally possible to be accepted to study at any university.

The Decision Has Been Made

One year later I was luckier when I was accepted to the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering of the same university since I have met a professor, who besides being a good friend of mine was also a member of the committee for the new applicants. He later said it was quite easy to place my application on the appropriate pile of applications with students of acceptable backgrounds. That proved that the bureaucracy of the communist regime was't always perfect. However, even though I achieved my goal to be an university student, I made a decision that this would be the last year in the country. I felt too much of the pressure created by the necessity of living the double faced life and shortly after the start of the first semester, we decided with a fellow student that next year we will leave for the summer holidays of our lifetime. During that year my friend bought an older model of VW Bug that would be part of our one way ticket out of the country. I must say that we were lucky since we had to cheat a little to obtain our travel permits to Yugoslavia, which was a semi free country and commonly used as a gateway by many Czechoslovak refugees while making their way to the West.

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