Friday, October 31, 2008

Back in Prague

Prague is not a city that I can stay away from. I fell in love with it during my Fulbright, and my return visits refresh the spirit of growth and learning that built during my long stay there.

I went back in October 2007 for a conference sponsored by the Policy Association for an Open Society, my Think Tank friends whom I have worked with before.

Last week, a year later, I went back again to wander the streets and visit favorite places with friends Donna and Louise.

We stayed at the Hotel Loreta, which had been the monastery for the Loreta church of the Nativity.

The October weather smiled on us. Several days were in the 60s. One evening it was warm enough after dark to walk across the Charles Bridge with just a sweater. Mornings were brisk, but it was not like January 2006!

My excuse for going this time was another conference sponsored by PASOS. They hosted a meeting to discuss the agenda for the Czech presidency of the European Union, which start in January and lasts six months.

Members of the Think Tanks that belong to PASOS led discussions with ministers of the Czech government and other policy makers and policy experts. The discussions included first the Enlargement of the EU, especially the Western Balkans, Serbia, and Kosovo, and Turkey, and second EU Relations with Russia and the Eastern Neighbourhood, with a special focus on Russia policy and on the Caucasus and Black Sea region. This was not like watching CNN or Fox.

I also was a panelist in a follow-up seminar on communication for the Think Tank members. That gave me a chance to advocate for using interpersonal communications to expand the impact of the research the Think Tanks produce and make available through mass communications and their own publications, websites, documentaries, and podcasts.

What a wonderful mix of thinking and renewing!

To hear a recording of "Old Cotton Fields Back Home", in Czech, Click Here. I recorded it at the "Get Out The Vote" rally that we attended in Old Town Square. The recording starts with the attendees being urged to vote (in their election, not ours) then some English words, then the Czech version.

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