Most students travel 15 minutes or so to go to school, but one student has traveled a staggering 4824.95 miles to come to Pace. Mirek Crha is the newest (temporary) addition to the senior class as an exchange student from Prague, Czech Republic. He is living with senior Taj Gillani.
Mirek decided to be an exchange student because it was a program his school offered, and he had already studied as an exchange student in England and France. Why Atlanta? Mirek chose Atlanta because he has family connections here, and the other options were Mississippi or Washington. Having only the knowledge of what he learned from American TV shows (“Californication” and “Weeds”), Mirek came to Pace with an enthusiastic attitude and a great proficiency in English, which he learned at school.
Even as an exchange student, he enjoys all of his classes, including Creative Writing with Mr. Carson, because he “enjoys writing in English and the class taught [him] a lot of things that [he] can use outside of the class.” He also enjoys Comparative Politics with Ms. Smith, because the class is always different and interesting. He said he appreciates that at Pace, he “can choose subjects, and can do what [he] wants to do in school.” Outside of classes, Mirek can usually be found in the Senior Cellar, and when not at Pace, he explores the city of Atlanta, as he is accustomed to venturing into the heart of Prague when at home. One of the nicest things at Pace that he does not have in Prague, he said, is the school cafeteria.
Although he has a constant fear of speaking in Czech by mistake, Mirek has fully immersed himself in the cultural experience Pace and America has offered him. He said that he “doesn’t think something is superior or inferior in cultures, they’re just different.” He does find the differences in interpersonal relationships strange and varied with each new country he visits, such as the need to have 1,000 Facebook friends compared to having real friends. Mirek came from a school where there are only 24 students in his grade, so the size of Pace was a little bit of a shock; however, he really likes “the overall free atmosphere that is very relaxed and friendly.” Mirek has also learned Canadian and American slang terms to help reduce any possible “lost in translation” moments. When asked, he said he couldn’t pick a most memorable moment so far, because they have all been unique and special.
Mirek said that Americans tend to have some misconceptions about his country. In particular, he wanted to clarify that Prague is in the Czech Republic and not Czechoslovakia (which no longer exists) and that the Czech Republic is not an Eastern European country.
Mirek will be returning home in December. He said that if anyone is in Prague, they should “go out with [him] on evening,” because then you can get the full experience and have more fun than simply visiting as a tourist.
By Hayley Silverstein, News Editor ’14