Oct 012012
Central European Events in Portland, Oregon, in October 2012

Just when you thought September was a busy month for Central European events comes a packed October. Enjoy these wonderful events! Event copy and images are from the local media and event organizers. As usual, the list will be updated as I learn of additional events. Czech/Slovak Republics: Hospoda, 10/2 Tuesday, September 2, 6:00 p.m.–close McTarnahans Taproom, 2730 NW 31st, Portland Free The monthly gathering of Portland’s Czech and Slovak community. Guests welcome. The Balkans: Kafana Klub, 10/2 Tuesday, October 2, 7:00 p.m. (7 p.m. dance lesson, 8 p.m. live […] Continue reading >

Aug 272012
Central European Events in Portland, Oregon, in September 2012

‘Tis the festival season! Plenty of Central European fun in and around Portland in the coming weeks, starting this Thursday, all the way through October. Event copy and images are from the local media and event organizers. Bulgaria: Angel Nazlamov & Daniela Ivanova-Nyberg, 8/30 Thursday, August 30, 7:30 p.m. Podkrepa Hall, 2116 North Killingsworth St., Portland, Oregon Suggested donation $8-$10 at the door A great warm-up for balkanalia 2012! In honor of our Thursday dances we are going to treat ourselves with live music by special guest, accordion player Angel Nazlamov from […] Continue reading >

Jun 192012
Voting from Abroad Revisited

The June 2nd print issue of The Economist contained the article “Returning officers,” that provided an update for my exploration of voting abroad. More and more European countries are allowing and making it easier for their nationals who live abroad to vote in their country of adoption. Migrant-sending countries mostly cherish their diasporas. They hope wealthy and influential emigrants will do good at home. Providing parliamentary seats for compatriots abroad may rekindle loyalties. In an interesting twist on the issue, some countries, including Croatia, designate parliamentary seats specifically for their expatriates. Governments […] Continue reading >

Mar 172012
St. Patrick's Day and Immigrant Holidays

Official, or federally recognized, American holidays derive from historical events (Independence Day/Fourth of July), religious traditions (Christmas), and national heroes (Martin Luther King Day). Among the unofficial but widely recognized and celebrated holidays, which include Mardi Gras, Easter, and Halloween, St. Patrick’s Day holds a special place: it celebrates the culture of an immigrant group.  Every March 17th, St. Patrick’s Day commemorates Ireland’s patron saint and the arrival of Christianity to Ireland in 12th century. About 12% of U.S. population, or more than 36 million people, reported Irish ancestry in 2008; the Irish diaspora […] Continue reading >

Feb 112012
Accents in Both Languages

There are many nostalgic objects on immigrant bookshelves, and still the narrative as a whole is not that of nostalgia. Diasporic souvenirs do not reconstruct the narrative of one’s roots but rather tell the story of exile. They are not symbols but transitional objects that reflect multiple belonging. The former country of origin turns into an exotic place represented through its arts and crafts usually admired by foreign tourists. Newly collected memories of exile and acculturation shift the old cultural frameworks; [diasporic] souvenirs can no longer be interpreted within […] Continue reading >

Feb 032012
Going and Winning, Immigrant-Style

Alina Simone’s critically (and, on occasion, uncritically) acclaimed collection of personal essays "You Must Go and Win," documents her circuitous path through music industry’s wilderness and the discovery of her Russian roots. You must go and read it. At the risk of overgeneralizing: Simone deadpans as perhaps only an Eastern European can; her voice engages as perhaps only an American storyteller’s is able to. Simone has been called "a frenzied, Eastern European musician’s version of humorist David Sedaris." Both Simone and Sedaris find humor in the banality of life; both are […] Continue reading >

Jan 042012
The Freedom of the Birds: An Interview With Petr Sís

Following up on my review of Peter Sís’s new book “The Conference of the Birds” and our conversation at his reading here in Portland, Oregon, I asked Peter about his experience as an émigré. We spoke via Skype on New Year’s Eve, I in Slovak, he in Czech; the interview below is an English translation and edit of my Czech and Slovak notes. *** American Robotnik: In your latest book, “The Conference of the Birds”, birds are the main characters searching for the king that will solve the world’s problems. What […] Continue reading >

Dec 072011
Crossing Borders for Love or Business

Two recent issues of The Economist featured articles exploring international marriage and diaspora business networks. Let’s take a look at each article from American Robotnik’s perspective. International Marriage and You Most Central Europeans I know in the U.S. (“my generation”) have come or stayed because of love and its legal expression, marriage. In “Herr and Madame, Señor and Mrs”, the thrust of the argument is that even though they’re tricky to define and data are scarce, international marriages are on the rise because “they reflect—and result from—globalization”. The U.S. […] Continue reading >

Nov 112011
Cooking Slovak in America: An Interview With Lubos Brieda

Following up on my review of SlovakCooking.com, I asked Ľuboš Brieda who runs that site a few questions about his experience as a Slovak transplant. *** American Robotnik: You started SlovakCooking.com after beginning to miss the tasty Slovak home cooking in the U.S. and wanting to learn a few recipes. There’s a huge gap between learning to cook Slovak dishes and sharing the recipes on a website. What compelled you to take your craving for Slovak food  public? Ľuboš Brieda: You make it sound as if one day I […] Continue reading >