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Interviews

“We want to knit our part of the world more closely to your part of the world”: Interview with the Ambassador of New Zealand H.E. Rupert Thomas Holborow

in Current Issue/Interviews

by Kristína Šefčíková and Markéta Šonková  

Photo courtesy of the New Zealand Embassy in Berlin, used with permission.

 

This summer, Re:Views had the honour of interviewing a non-resident ambassador for the first time. H.E. Rupert Thomas Holborow, Ambassador of New Zealand to Germany and non-Resident Ambassador to Czech Republic, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein joined us from Berlin to talk about Czech-New Zealand ties, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, sustainability, the European Union and the Free Trade Agreement currently in negotiations, and even the Lord of the Rings.  

This year marks the 28th anniversary of diplomatic relations between New Zealand and the Czech Republic, although the ties go back as far as 1924 and the former Czechoslovakia. There are also some interesting projects that have been established between our countries, such as the reciprocal working holiday scheme which provides for a 12-month working holiday visa for both Czechs and New Zealanders. How do you perceive the bond between our two countries, and where do you see the crucial milestones? Keep Reading

Those blue parking signs with that H word

in Current Issue/Interviews

by Bryan Felber

 

“My worst enemy,” Lucy calls these signs that either use or evoke the word handicap.

 

Lucy Meyer speaking to officials at the US Ambassador’s Residence in Azerbaijan. PHOTO PROVIDED BY TeamLucyMeyer, USED WITH PERMISSION.

Lucy Meyer, the Spokesperson for the Special Olympics – UNICEF USA Partnership and a global advocate for people with disabilities, places great care in the language she uses, especially when describing people with disabilities. 

 

Living with physical and intellectual disabilities due to her cerebral palsy, Lucy at the age of 22 has won five gold medals in swimming in the Special Olympics and has travelled around the world to advocate for people with disabilities.

 

However, she still gets annoyed by these parking signs every time she goes out.

 

“Why do you hate them?” I ask her.

 

Lucy: “Because we’re not handicapped or disabled people, so we don’t need to use that language toward anyone.”

 

Bryan: “What kind of language do you use when referring to people with disabilities?”

 

Lucy: “Well, I do person first, not the disability. So, like, I’m a person with a disability, but not a disabled person. So, I think person before disability is probably one of the most important things ever. We’re not disabled, handicapped people. We’re just people who need extra help.” Keep Reading

“Every day is a new experience”: Interview with the Honorary Consul of Australia Ms Jana Kvasnicová

in Interviews

By Kristína Šefčíková and Markéta Šonková

Photo kindly provided by Austrade, used with permission.

 

Interviewing Ms Kvasnicová was special in at least two ways: for the first time in the history of the magazine, we had the honour of talking to an honorary consul – one of only two such representatives of major English speaking countries based in the Czech Republic. Ms Kvasnicová is also a graduate of our very own Department of English and American Studies, which made the interview all the more special for both sides involved. The fruitful discussion delved into the history of Czech-Australian ties, current developments of said ties heading towards closer cooperation, the role of the European Union in these processes, but also football teams, career advice, and of course, fond memories of the consul’s times at the Department.

This year, we commemorate 100 years since the foundation of diplomatic relations between the former Czechoslovak Republic and the Commonwealth of Australia, as it was exactly 100 years ago when the first Czech diplomatic representation in Australia, the still present Consulate in Sydney, was opened. Yet, the ties go well beyond diplomacy, trade, and numerous bilateral agreements. For example, earlier this year, Prague Zoo raised 20 million CZK to help the Australian fauna after the bushfires that swept across the continent. So, there indeed seems to be quite a palpable sense of solidarity between our nations. How do you personally perceive the relationship between the two countries?

The relationship between the Czech Republic and Australia is very strong. There is keen interest from both governments to engage, and although we can’t travel to and from each other’s countries at the moment, government to government interaction is on-going. We both stand for free and open global markets and we greatly appreciate the support from the Czech Government.

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“What we are trying to do now is create another bilateral high point”: Interview with Her Majesty’s Ambassador Nick Archer MVO

in Interviews

By Markéta Šonková, Kristína Šefčíková, and Anna Formánková

Talking to an ambassador is always fascinating, as one can find out so much about the different cultures and many intersections between cultures. Talking to a British ambassador, whose professional CV runs across several countries and high offices, during a turbulent time in UK politics and a worldwide pandemic, makes the debate even more captivating. However, the discussion with Her Majesty’s Ambassador Nick Archer, who has resided in Prague since January 2018, examined not only Brexit or the past of the Czech-British ties, and the stepping stones the two countries can use to build their future ties, but also the many things we share in our everyday lives, the importance of nurturing these common values, seeing and working with the bigger picture, and inevitably also the Queen. Keep Reading

At the Centenary Crossroads: Interview with His Excellency Charles Sheehan

in Interviews

by Markéta Šonková and Anna Formánková

 

Markéta Šonková with H. E. Charles Sheehan. Photo by Lucie Tomaňová.

Ambassador Sheehan has been the Irish ambassador to the Czech Republic since 2015, but his time in the Czech Republic has slowly reached its end. The Cork-born lawyer has spent his career in the Irish Diplomatic Service, and his professional CV sports many illustrious posts. And yet, the ease and lightness with which he discusses a wide variety of topics ranging from sports, to literature, was simply heart-warming. 

Although Ireland is a small European nation, its culture is widely popular all around the world. Nevertheless, Ireland is much more than shamrocks, vast green fields, and St. Patrick’s celebrations. To that end, we talked to His Excellency about the Czech-Irish ties and their future, the Irish footprint in the world, and whether he has ever finished reading Joyce’s Ulysses, a feat many students of English and American studies strive to conquer themselves. Keep Reading

“Breaking Our Silences” and “Calling Attention” to the Oppressive: Interview with Devi S. Laskar About Her Novel The Atlas of Reds and Blues

in Interviews
The cover of The Atlas of Reds and Blues published by Counterpoint. Photo courtesy of Counterpoint.

by Sandra Hrášková

“When you put American clothes on a browned-skinned doll, what do people see? The clothes? Or the whole doll? Or only the skin?” (Laskar, location 108)

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Report from the 14th ESSE Conference

in Interviews/Other

By Patrícia Iliašová

 

Anne Fogarty’s plenary lecture in Scala. Photo credit: Eva Růžičková.

At the end of August 2018, Brno welcomed around 660 delegates from 55 different countries to the 14th ESSE Conference which ran from 29 August to 2 September. The conference was organized by the Czech Association for the Study of English (CZASE) and the Department of English and American Studies (DEAS), Masaryk University. The conference took place in several venues scattered across the city centre, and consisted of over 60 seminars, 18 parallel lectures, 4 plenary lectures, workshops and a rich cultural programme. Re:Views was fortunate enough to take part in some of the preparations and to have attended some of the sessions. However, to give you an overall insight into the conference, we asked the chair of the Organising Committee, Ivona Schöfrová to answer some questions about the preparations and the conference itself. Keep Reading

“Let Them Love Language”: Interview with Poet Rachel Plummer

in Interviews

By Tereza Walsbergerová

Rachel’s lecture on LGBT children’s literature. Photo credit: English Students’ Club.

 

“The secret me is a boy. / He takes girlness off like a sealskin: / something that never sat right on his shoulders.” Those are the first three lines of the poem “Selkie” by Scottish poet Rachel Plummer who was recently commissioned by LGBT Youth Scotland to write a collection of children’s poems based around LGBT retellings of traditional Scottish myths and stories. In Spring 2018, Rachel accepted ESCape’s invitation to visit our department. She presented a lecture titled Seeing Ourselves: LGBT Representation in Children’s Literature, ran two creative writing workshops, and helped me announce the winners of KAA’s Creative Writing Contest (which she also helped judge for a second time in a row). Although she has been really busy moving into her new house and publishing her book, I have managed to conduct a short e-mail interview with her. Amongst the topics we touched on are her personal and artistic relationship with England and Scotland, Brexit, home education, the role of literature in children’s development, and the canonicity of LGBT literature. Keep Reading

“I Don’t Repeat Courses. That Would Be Freaky!” Interview with Hanjo Berressem

in Interviews

By Blanka Šustrová

The English Department at the University of Cologne in Germany has been a popular ERASMUS+ destination for many of our students. I have spent my summer 2017 semester at the Englisches Seminar I. (department focused on literature, culture and linguistics) and to anyone thinking about studying abroad at this department I can only say this: go! I have picked courses focusing mostly on American literature and culture and three of them were taught by the chairman for American Studies, Prof. Dr. Hanjo Berressem, a man who never teaches a course twice, who describes himself as “the Pynchon guy” and who agreed to be interviewed by me, despite the fact I’d been already spending almost five hours a week in his courses. Keep Reading

“During the time of my career, there have been some very extraordinary changes”: Interview with Her Excellency Barbara C. Richardson

in Interviews
Photo by Jiří Jež

By Makéta Šonková and Anna Formánková

Although not as much talked about as with the U.S. or the U.K., Canada, too, shares long-cultivated ties to our country, and these ties have been growing strong recently. Partly, it might be thanks to the charismatic Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, it might also be thanks to the new foreign trade agreement between Canada and the EU, the ongoing academic and personal interests of people in academia and historians – after all, our very Department of English and American Studies is a shining example of that – but it definitely is thanks to the charismatic and bold new ambassador to the Czech Republic, Her Excellency Barbara C. Richardson.

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