Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A little about the country that I am assigned to - Slovakia

National Flag

Learn more about the flag and symbol here:

Above is the national symbol and flag of Slovakia - I will be assisting there chef de mission at the Paralympic Games from March 12 - 21 as a National Paralympic Committee assistant.

While I didn't apply to be with this great central European nation I am more than happy to have this assignment.

Normally to get a country like this you need to be able to speak the language but I don't but first some history.

The reason that I am happy is that Slovakia and a small town in the north central part of the country called Liesek is the hometown of my paternal grandparents. The town boasts a population of around 3,000 and is located in the foothills of the lower Tarta mountains - it is also only a small distance from the Polish border - while I don't know allot about the family tree I know that the grandparents left there - it would have been part of the Austrian-Hungarian empire at the time and headed for the US and Pennsylvania where over 60% of all Slovaks who came to America reside and where there are string of cousins on my Grandmother's side - other family members have never been able to find any serious leads to more on my Grandfather's side.

So while I don't speak the language - Dad insisted when we were young that we are Canadians and should learn to speak English and later French - nowadays young people are encouraged to learn their ancestors native tongue - I view this as a great opportunity to learn about the workings of my homeland.

I have been thinking about a European vacation in a couple of years when I turn 65 and this will be a great chance to learn more.

As for not speaking the language and the volunteering - this is how it was explained to me during the training - the larger delegations either have or are given interpreters so we don't need to worry about language - most of the European countries participants speak a little to a lot of English or else some of the other volunteers in our delegation can speak the language.

The Slovaks do have a pavilion at the Games so I am going to wander over there and see if I can pick up some further information - also found a free web site where I can learn some key words and phrases.

To find our more about Slovakia visit this web site: http://visitslovakia.com/slovakia-slovakia/

If you want to learn a lit bit more about the Slovakia Paralympic team - here is a link - FYI - most of the site is in Slovak and I don't have a translation service available but it appears that they will have about 16 - 20 athletes in the Whistler events:

More later


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