It’s Ples Season!

It’s been a bit since my last entry but it’s amazing how fast time can go during the week once you start teaching all your classes. Today I wanted to share with you a rather unique but exciting part of Czech culture,that as a teacher here I am getting to experience.

The cold and dead of winter is Ples season here in the Czech Republic. What is a Ples? The literal translation is a “Graduation Ball” and the closest American equivalent is a prom, however there are big differences. Graduating from Gymnazium (high school) here is a big deal and you you have to pass a very difficult exam in the spring to do so. But a few months before that, every graduating class has a Ples. The graduating students wear fancy ball gowns and the men wear suits. Family, teachers, friends and classmates are all invited and come as well. A Ples evening includes lots of dance numbers from students and outside groups. A band plays most of the evening and everyone who wants to can dance.

The centerpiece ceremony of the evening is about halfway through the night. The graduating students line up and are called by name up to the stage. As they walk up they get pelted with Czech coins.  It is pretty awesome as tons of coins get thrown at these students. It’s a miracle no one gets hurt but it’s real fun to watch. After the ceremony these coins get collected and it helps pay for the Ples. Once on stage they are presented with a sash saying “graduate” (in Czech) and a flower. After this there is a teacher-student dance (I got to dance with a student) and a student-parent dance.

To cap the evening every Ples has a “midnight surprise.” Generally organized by the graduating class it is a fun or silly presentation or dance of some kind. At Friday’s the class dressed up in Hawaiian garb (boys in coconut bikinis of course) and danced to a great medley of dance music.

I have been to three Ples’ so far with potentially two more to go (classes work differently here, there are a lot more than one per school). It has been lots of fun to see teachers and students all dressed up and having fun outside school. Being able to experience something like this as an English teacher and a foreigner has been very interesting but also lots of fun. I look forward to my other Ples’ in the coming weeks!

Advertisements

Really?

This is another entry about Cheb’s English club, the last entry was getting too long.

One of the great things about the whole evening was to have students you could actually talk to and have them understand you back. Their grammar and syntax might not be all there but you can have a conversation. It’s awesome. After the hoedown fun (see last entry) we settled down to listen to two students give their account of a trip to China they got to take last summer. They went as part of a Czech Physics team and competed in an international competition near Beijing. It was cool to hear about.

After the talk people were mingling and one of the presenters, George, asked me about colleges near Boston (I had introduced myself and said where I was from to the group earlier). Soon him, me and his girlfriend are all having a nice conversation. And then he asks the question. The one that I want to hear so much but dread at the same time.

So why did you decide to come to the Czech Republic?

Here it is. An opportunity to talk to a Czech student about things that matter. It’s amazing how you get to the purpose of being somewhere and then you almost freeze. I did marginally better than my flight in July but still only so-so. I talked about wanting to teach and how I’m interested in why so many Atheists are here but that was about it. They seemed politely interested but then we talked a bit more about other things.

In any case I am thankful for opportunities no matter how I might botch them up. A final note about getting to know students is that after the presentation two other students came up to me and asked if I knew “The Big Bang Theory”. I asked if they meant the theory or the show and they said the show which I really enjoy. They than informed me that I remind them of the character Howard which, if you have ever seen the show, is a hard compliment to take. All I have to say to it is:

Really?