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Czech Language Foundation Annual Banquet

On April 1, the Czech Language Foundation held its annual banquet recognizing both the students of the University of Nebraska at Lincoln attending courses of Czech language and literature and those members of the community who, through their financial and other support, continue to preserve the Czech heritage in the United States.

The UNL Czech Language Program celebrates the fact that in 1907 students first started to learn Czech language and literature at UNL. The program is one of only seven in the USA offering 3 or more years of continuous instruction and one of the oldest ones. The program offers a Czech language minor after six semesters of coursework. The UNL Czech program has been a very successful one, thanks to its instructors and a number of outstanding students who have also been engaged in the cultural programs of the Czech Komensky Club. The Czech Program was started in 1907 by chancellor Andrews, after members of the Czech community and Czech legislators in the state of Nebraska asked UNL to include it in its curriculum. The Czech language instruction in Nebraska is closely tied to the history of the Czech Komensky Club, named for Jan Amos Komensky, or Comenius, the pioneer educator. Conceived by UNL students in December 1903, and officially established in 1904, it became a nursery for influential personalities in Nebraska political and cultural life. Past members include state and U.S. politicians such as Roman Hruska, Otto Kotouc, Joseph Vosoba, and Rudy Vrtiska; poets Ferdinand Musil, Jeffrey Hrbek, and Hrbek's sister the writer, politician, and educator, Dr. Sarka Hrbek. The Nebraska born Dr. Olga Stastny, recipient of the French Croix De Guerre and many other international medals for her work as a doctor and organizer of international health care, was also a member. According to the club constitution, its aim was to form a bond among Czech-Americans and to provide a model of cultural association to other university settings, where students could study Czech language, history and literature first informally, and later formally, in regular courses. The Czech language and literature program founded in 1907 replaced the informal instruction within the club with formal course work, but it continued to involve students in the Czech Program in the cultural program offered to the university.

The main persons who work hard on promoting the czech language and heritage are Layne Pierce, President of the Czech Language Foundation, Dr. Mila Saskova-Pierce, Professor of Russian and Czech at UNL, and Katarina Cermakova, Czech language instructor at UNL. However, there are many others who contribute to the good cause of the foundation. You can read more about it on the foundation website.

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Czech Language Foundation Banquet