Central Europeans reflect on life before the fall of the Berlin Wall
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Nora Hložeková

After 1989 the freedom of press, arts and education could fully develop.

Bratislava, Slovak Republic, 2019
Slovak English

Nora Hložeková, Executive Director, J. William Fulbright Commission, Slovak Republic

Before joining the Fulbright Commission in 1992 I worked in a publishing house and was responsible for negotiating the royalties and translation. Till 1989 the selection and contracting of authors was monitored by political institutions and censorship was also put on designers and illustrators. After 1989 the freedom of press, arts and education could fully develop.  Educational exchanges have become possible also with countries outside the former socialist block. For the first time U.S. Fulbright grantees coming to Czechoslovakia could free operate at institutions. 


The Czechoslovak J.W. Fulbright Commission for Educational Exchange was established in 1991, with offices in Prague and in Bratislava. I was the Program Officer for the Slovak part of the country.  After the split the Czech Republic has become the successor of the agreement. The Slovak Republic and the United States negotiated a new agreement on establishing the Fulbright Commission that was signed on September 22, 1994. I was responsible for the content and the process between the negotiating parties.  


During the period 1994 - 1998 there were many obstacles made for non-profit organizations in the Slovak Republic. The constant amendments of law nearly ruined the operation of the Commission. We found a law that allowed the Commission to become so called organization with international element and secure the operation of the Commission based on the bilateral agreement between both countries.


Twenty-five years is relatively a short time, but throughout this period more than 700 grantees from both countries had the opportunity to test their skills and capabilities through various programs of the Commission. There are many prominent alumni of the program that later have fundamentally influenced the Slovak or U.S.  academic and / or social environment. 


But to be honest, each of the more than 700 scholarship awardees who have decided to study or research in one of the two countries deserve to be honored for the courage and curiosity to discover and inspire our nations.

Photo courtesy Nora Hložeková





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