They say the United States is a place where you can be who you want to be: if no one knows you when you get here, you can be anyone you choose. As a newcomer, you are free to take the opportunity to reinvent yourself.
If you simply want to continue being who you were before you arrived, congratulations! But if all your life in the “old country” you felt compelled, even forced to become what others around you (your family, friends, society) expected you to be, the possibility of reinvention can be powerful.
In your quest to define the new you, you may reject the old one, in part or in its entirety. You imagine yourself as a blank canvas and start painting a new self.
But it takes you no time to realize just how much choice America offers—in everything. You soon may find the new freedom so overwhelming that you get stuck being no longer the old you and not yet the new you. Feeling ever outward bound and rudderless can be all the more frustrating if you’re searching not just for a sense of identity in the new reality, but for a basis for creative self-expression as well.
Luckily—this is by no means an inevitable development—the process of reinvention can lead to rediscovery. Events and places can conspire to make you see your old self anew and embrace it as it evolves into its different, and perhaps even better, iteration in the new country.
And when you come to agree with the old marketing adage, “If you can’t change it, promote it,” you begin to write about your quest.
Welcome to American Robotnik!
What Is This You Say?
American Robotnik explores the quest of becoming a Central European American: the journey of one Slovakman settling in the United States and the wonders of life as a transplant.
On a broader scale, American Robotnik examines what happens when you introduce a foreign element into an established structure; what results from the creative clash of differences; and how Self and the Other interact. It analyzes acculturation, adaptation, and amazement; it investigates intersections, interactions, and identity shifts; and it tackles transitions, transformations, and (cultural) transgressions.
Content categories will include:
- Close Encounters – interviews with and stories of immigrants
- Critical Reading – reviews and critiques
- Facestuffing – food
- Immigrant Songs – music
- It Exists! – weird stuff (think pajama jeans, snuggie, or peanut butter pickle sandwich)
- Kino – movies
- Kultur Clash – immigrants in America, America in immigrants
- New World, New Life – personal journey
- Stranger in the Home Land – travels in the old country
- We Are Here – guest posts
Who Is Behind the Curtain?
I am Peter Korchnak, born and raised in Košice, Slovakia; educated in Bratislava, Slovakia, and Budapest, Hungary. That’s the Slovak and Central European part.
During the final leg of my studies, in Leiden (the Netherlands), I met a girl (she was visiting a childhood friend of hers and a housemate of mine and traveled around Europe a bit, too). We fell in love, and when I came to visit her in the U.S., for the second time, in 2003 and I’m still here. The girl is now the wife and the Slovak an American since May 2011. My friends and family back in Slovakia refer to me as “Američan” [ameri-chahn], or “the American”. That’s the “American” part.
“Robotnik” [roh-bought-nyeek] means “worker” in Slovak. Ever my blue-collar father’s and white-collar mother’s son, I enjoy being productive—some would call it working—in my spare time. Incidentally, I worked a series of manual jobs for over a year after arriving stateside.
A Note on Method
American Robotnik publishes only when he has something to say. Drawing inspiration from the Slow Blog Manifesto, which declares, “It happens when it happens,” and which “speaks like it matters”, American Robotnik writes in his own time and aims for words that are timeless.
Hello Peter, I just visited your site first time. My grandparents immigrated to America from
eastern Slovakia from small villages near Hummene, which are Myslina and Gruzovce!
I have the good fortune to have this knowledge from their only daughter….. My mamicka!
And I am so proud to have Slovak blood! LOL Please continue posting words that matter,
I say” What Slovakia has, America does not have, and what America has ,…Slovakia does
not have.” Would you please tell me how to write this in Slovak?
@Philka: Thanks so much for your kind words. I visited Humenné a number of times as a kid, on school trips mostly. I’m not sure I ever visited either of the two villages, but it’s possible I passed through on the way someplace…
Your quote translates like this: “Čo má Slovensko, nemá Amerika, a čo má Amerika, nemá zasa Slovensko.”
Keep reading and share American Robotnik, I’m just getting started!