Name: Hana Vacková’15.
Hometown: Olomouc, a beautiful university town about two hours east of Prague. I guess you could say the Madison of the Czech Republic.
Why Beloit? The third sentence about Beloit in the second edition of Colleges That Change Lives as well as the Weissberg scholarship. Beloit fit what I was looking for: a small and lovable liberal arts college.
What is the most unexpected thing you've encountered so far in the US? Lyme disease. 'Nuff said.
What's the best meal you've had in the U.S.? Breakfast at an amazing Southern restaurant called Monell's in Nashville after OEC's hike in Georgia. Also, every single dinner with Vegan Co-op because everything is made with love.
What do you miss most from home? My grandpa, Czech bread, forests, cobblestone streets, and summer music/film festivals. And Kofola.
What has been your most exciting moment abroad? Taking the train from Chicago to San Francisco last winter break. Camping at Point Reyes. Watching Keith Jarrett play in Chicago. Giving my symposium on international volunteering. Hanging out at Scotch Hill Farm with beautiful animals (Hi Dewy!). Too many to count!
Where is your favorite study spot on campus? It depends on my mood. I like the basement computer room in the library—you can play music and stage impromptu de-stress dance parties. For finals, I love to hang out with my amazing study buddies in the "Psych Ward" in the Science Center. Before finals my freshman year, I'd close myself in the vacuum cleaner closet on Maurer 3rd so that I wouldn't get distracted. Highly recommended.
What is one song from your home country that you think everyone should listen to? That's a tough one. Iva Bittová - the Czech Bobby McFerrin - is phenomenal. Try Sto let or Sirka v louži. Her performances are simply mind-blowing (or should I say ear-blowing?).
What are your plans for spring break? I'm going to Slovakia and the Czech Republic with Bill New's class Children's Rights: The Case of the European Roma. We'll be visiting various Slovak and Czech towns and cities and interacting with Romani students, educators, policy makers, and NGO workers to learn more about the current discrimination and marginalization of the Romani people in Central Europe. It will be quite unusual to be home for only a week but I'm interested to see what other students will think of a place I call home. We'll see how I'll cope with switching between three languages on top of jet lag...
What is your role in organizing the Human Rights Film Festival? How did this festival come about? Do you have a favorite film? At home I volunteered for Jeden svět - one of the biggest human rights documentary film festivals in Europe and thought it would be great to have a small festival here on campus. The festival was put together to encourage discussion about human rights as well as set the context for the upcoming Weissberg Conference in April. Together with Betsy Brewer and Josh Moore from the Office of International Education, we worked on selecting movies for the series. With Betsy, I helped to draft a grant from the United States Institute of Peace, and we got over $1,000 to purchase the documentaries for the Beloit College Library. I don't think I have a favorite. To me every documentary is equally eye-opening, though they can sometimes be biased and misleading, as the two Romani scholars pointed out at the last screening of The Gypsies of Svinia.
Note: The Human Rights Film Series will continue after break with “Harvest of Empire” (2012) on March 15 and “Missing Children” (1985) and “Who am I? The Found Children of Argentina” (2010) on March 22. Screenings start at 7 p.m. in Richardson Auditorium, MI, and are free and open to campus and community.