Many times, I come across children who show some interest in speaking with me. One beautiful evening on my way back from the city centre in Ceske Budejovice, I was seated in the bus, and a little boy boarded with his mother and grandmother. The bus was almost full with only separate empty seats, so he sat close to me.
With sharp and curious eyes, he stared at me and started speaking with me in the Czech Language. I smiled at him and because I couldn’t understand any words I said ‘Nerozumim’. He continued talking, and since I was totally lost, I said, ‘Ne Cesky, Anglicky Ano’. His mother intervened and told him I couldn’t understand the Czech language that I speak English language and immediately, he said ‘Hello’. With a broad smile, I replied, ‘Hello there’. Then he said, ‘How are you? I was amazed he could carry on a conversation with a total stranger. However, since those were the only words in English he knew, he switched almost immediately to the Czech language and started asking questions. I guess he was curious about something which I couldn’t understand. Unfortunately, I couldn’t do more than smile. When he got to his stop, I observed something quite beautiful. He walked with his grandma to the driver’s door and, with a lovely smile, the little boy said to the driver, ‘Děkuji, Ahoj’ (thank you, with the informal form of goodbye). His grandma corrected him by saying he should rather say ‘Děkuji, Na shledanou’ (thank you, with the formal form of goodbye). Then, he walked towards the back of the bus looking in through the window, eye searching for me. I stood up, and we waved at each other, and he said, ‘Cau’ (goodbye between friends).
It was a pleasant experience and a beautiful moment for me. It showed that Czech parents must be doing a great job of impacting morals and values to their children. The Czech people value direct communication (especially in the Czech language), politeness, and modesty. Little wonder why you find people say hello and goodbye to strangers in various locations such as supermarkets, malls, small shops, elevators, bus or train stations. For instance, when entering or leaving a shop, it’s normal to say ‘Dobrý den’ (Good day) or ‘Na shledanou’ (Goodbye).
In my opinion, I find the city of Ceske Budejovice quite relaxing. I have heard that this wasn’t the case some years back. Possibly, the influx of foreigners these few years has made the Czech people more accommodating, welcoming and flexible. Subsequently, it seems that the Czech children mirror the behaviour and attitudes of their parents, which in my opinion, is the ideal parenting style.
Umezurike Ngozi Mercy