Central Europeans reflect on life before the fall of the Berlin Wall
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Agáta Terešová

It is about conscience

Oravská Lesná, Slovak Republic, 2009
Slovak English

Agáta Terešová, Retired headmaster and teacher

I came to this village, as a teacher, 50 years ago. The situation was very hard. There was no transportation or other conveniences that were in larger cities. People worked very hard but the result was small. They were very poor. Most of the children here didn’t speak a word in the Slovak language. They spoke Goral, a kind of Polish dialect of the language. But the kids were good and I had a positive relationship with them. I was always telling myself that, "I have to get down with the people at their level, otherwise I will not accomplish anything here." Often, I found myself talking with their accent.

In 1989, I was the headmaster of the kindergarten. We had about 300 kids in kindergarten at that time. The change came suddenly. We lost quite a lot of children. The TV factory Tesla was closed, many women lost their jobs, so they took their kids from the kindergarten. But now, there are again as many kids in kindergarden as before.

It is really a different lifestyle now. People have a much better life and even though there are not enough full time jobs, they do all kinds of temporary jobs. The local government is helping those that are unemployed. There are many more government services for people. The City Manager is helping disabled and poor people. Teachers today finish their studies very fast. The university in Ružomberok is massproducing teachers. They are young. A lot of parents are not satisfied with them. But it is like everywhere, you can find good teachers and good people, but there are also exceptions. However, it will balance out in the future for sure.

Socialism did not have such a negative impact on my life. It is about conscience. There is a saying that everything will return to you. I'm telling this also to my grandchildren. If you are doing bad things you will get it back in the future. If you do good things then you can expect good things. I'm trying to educate them in this way, even though I'm not always successful. Most of all, I endeavor that they like people and nature and that they are modest. Once, I was interviewed for one broadcast and I told them that I wish peace and love to everybody from Oravská Lesná. But they cut it out. The situation is sometimes quite manifold, but let's hope that peace will be possible. It is important that there is peace and some work, because the rest unfolds from this.

This interview was in Slovak with the aid of a translator
Photo by Janeil Engelstad

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