Introducing the BEC team: Katka Báňová
Not all our readers have met us face to face yet, so we are going on with the interviews introducing our Brno Expat Centre crew. This interview presents our dear colleague Katka – an expert on both English and traditional English, Scottish and Irish dancing.
Have you always lived in Brno? What do you like the most about living here?
Brno is and always has been “my city”. I did get to travel quite a bit and so I got to appreciate this city and this country with all its qualities and peculiarities. One of the things I love about Brno is the fact that it has most of the advantages of a large city, such as culture, public transport, shops and schools, but at the same time it is like a large village – it is very easy to meet and connect with people with similar interests, no place is too far to get to and people still appreciate togetherness.
What brought you to the Brno Expat Centre?
Three things basically. I have been organising various cultural events, dance evenings etc. focused on Irish, Scottish and English culture and was told they could be interesting for expats living in Brno because some parts of these events do actually happen in English. Secondly, due to my profession as interpreter and translator, I wanted to find more connections to foreigners in Brno in order to offer my services and be of help to people who may need it – we know very well that most employees of public authorities and other places do not speak foreign languages much and so it is a struggle for foreigners when they need to take care of something connected with their life in Brno. Thirdly, it is an honour to be on a team and work alongside such a legendary person as Don Sparling. – And now I can actually say that our whole BEC team is just wonderful and each and every one of my colleagues is an inspiration to me and joy to be with.
Your role in the Brno Expat Centre is that of a consultant for family, leisure, interpreting and translations. What field did you graduate in and have you always worked as an interpreter and a translator?
Although I have spent most of my working life in this profession, I graduated in Theatre Management at the Janáček Academy of Arts. And before that I actually studied acting. Both of these skills are now useful to me in various activities which I carry out professionally as well as in my free time. That is why I enjoy planning all those exciting events we offer to our dear expats!
Your English is fluent and many people can’t tell you apart from a native speaker, how come? Have you ever spent some time abroad living as an expat?
My accent is certainly not a result of my hard work – it is a talent from above just as everyone has got some talent of their own. Thanks to my parents’ vision and support I got to travel and stay in various foreign countries which helped me to have a good understanding not only of languages but also the different ways of life in various countries. I have spent some time in Germany, England, USA, Switzerland, India and Ireland.
Do you have many expat friends here in Brno?
Of course I do! I have known some of them even before I joined BEC and now I get to meet even more people. Now with my new baby I may not have that much time for parties anymore, although… who knows.
You are also known as a great enthusiast when it comes to Irish, Scottish and English dancing as well as Jane Austen. When and how did you fall for dancing and these cultures?
Funnily enough I first encountered Irish culture in the USA but it stuck with me because I liked its many similarities with my favourite Moravian region, Wallachia. Then once in England I saw Riverdance on TV and I was sold. Eventually I founded an Irish dancing group here in Brno at the YMCA. It is called Démáirt and I am still active there, leading a ceilí club, teaching not only Irish, but also Scottish and English dances. With the English bit it is quite obvious, having watched the ‘Jane Austen’ films and seeing the dances there, I wanted to do it too. And since no one was doing something like that in Brno yet, it was another thing I had to start myself. Nowadays, Jane Austen Brno organise 3 workshops and balls per year and the atmosphere with people in period dress is fascinating. But, the most important thing is that people get to socialize and enjoy themselves!
Recently your baby girl was born. Do you feel being a mother changed you? Are you in touch with expat mothers and families more now that you are ‘one of them’?
Ummmm…. I am not sure I want to change. At least not in the way that I would only focus on children’s things from now on. I am not exactly a fan of this area but I know I will just have to adjust now. At the same time, I am aware that life may be all the more challenging for expat mothers here, with not only children but also all the foreign stuff to deal with, so that is why I’ve been focusing on this area a little, trying to help them out and see what can they make use of in Brno, what could make their life easier… And I am excited to see how will my nimble and funny Maggie lead me to start doing some new things too.