What do a lawyer, a dentist and a stand-up comic have in common? You can meet all of them at the Brno Expat Centre devoting their time and language skills to helping foreigners with many aspects of their life in Brno.
Meet our team of amazing assistants – they are the ones who will most likely accompany you to your meeting with Czech authorities, or interpret at your doctor’s appointment. On the picture from the left (top): Jarda, a devoted English teacher we all wish to have had when growing up; Agnieszka, an environmental volunteer, entertainer, Jane Austen fan and genuinely a ball of crackling energy that is hard to describe in a few words; Veronika, the backbone of our events and an English teacher with the nicest of smiles; Marek, a lawyer with the rare skill set of property and rental law; (bottom left) Adéla, a tourist guide you would gladly follow into any adventure; Sára, a frighteningly clever student of dentistry; Monika, a truly beautiful and proud mum now. And let’s not forget the newest addition to the family (photo bellow), Luky, a traveller and climber with ice blue eyes who will take your breath away when playing the guitar.
This article is but a small thank you to these young professionals for their readiness to help expats in Brno, and the kindness they do so with.
An assistant has to be, above all, a capable translator and knowledgeable on the issue that they are helping the client to solve. But they also have to have a great deal of mediating skills and an understanding of cultural differences. Their main task is to smooth the course of negotiations and help ensure the correct handling of the expat’s rights. Sometimes, that even means to instruct the officials, for whom foreign affairs may be truly that – completely foreign.
They share some tips gathered from their many years of working in the field:
1] When at a Czech public office, show your ID or residence permit before doing or saying anything else.
2] Brace yourself for piles of paperwork. Keep it sorted, or at the very least all in one place. Only few things can be solved electronically here.
With a heavy heart, they admitted that every now and then an official or health worker dares to make inappropriate remarks about a foreign-speaking client and that we still have a long way to go to eradicate prejudice as a nation.
But having met the BEC assistants, I wouldn’t be so skeptical. I believe that the next generation is more than capable of seeing Brno as an international city.