Being & becoming : a czech & a slovak perspective

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Being in Togo radically changed my perspective on the world. I was staying at this family’s farm as they do agro-forestry. I became part of their daily lifestyle. I learned about living a simple life: waking up very early in the morning to take care of the farm; eating with care and responsibly; sharing more with the others for all to be contempt.
It was a beautiful experience; that came at a moment of my life when I really needed to learn; and grow – and above all feel that I had a purpose in this life. So yes; I learned from living that life. A simple but above all a very hard one.

This has made me more sensitive to the struggles that women face in the developing world as well. Both women and men work in the field – planting banana trees, or coco, which is a rarer commodity. But then women also traditionally cook, take care of children and of the household –
I calculated that daily women work at least five more hours than men. Can you imagine?
Yet, at the end of the day – the lifestyle is difficult for everyone. They wear heavy baskets and use really small tools to work, which can be damaging for their necks and bodies.

Simona works at the European Civil Protection & Humanitarian Aid Operations – ECHO – European Commission’s department for overseas humanitarian aid and for civil protection. She now deals exclusively with the situation of refugees in Turkey.

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Being in Cambridge was challenging; mostly because at first, I felt a bit intimidated and I was not confident enough! Yet eventually I found myself again, being at university, dealing with topics that I read about on a daily basis – this is what stimulates me, what helps me find my purpose, what drives me to be so passionate about politics – the academic side of things, that being. Being surrounded by like-minded people as well, that is what I find so beautiful about academia. Funnily enough now I am at the other end; I teach at the University of Economics here in Prague and I absolutely love it. I teach about European Security and International Institutions.
What I love about the E.U.? I love the idea of the European Union because I love the vision that we as Europeans are coming together as one civilization, finally in peace and harmony.

Michal works as a lecturer at the University of Economics in Prague and publishes articles related to european affairs and international security for various think thanks, such as the German Marshall Fund of the United States or the Association for International Affairs. I met him while studying at the university of Cambridge, where like him at first, I was a bit intimidated, impressed by the setting. Only to figure out eventually that longing for learning and being passionate about the same matters can foster beautiful bonds between people. Well that and the fact that he is one of the kindest people I have met thus far.

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