how to make ‘svačina’

a second group of burmese refugees arrived on august 17th, straight from a refugee camp in thailand. like the group that arrived in july, these new asylum seekers will spend 6 months in an integration centre in usti nad labem, while their applications are processed. during this time they will also receive czech lessons and try to adapt to their new home country.

this being september, around the world kids have started up at school again, and for the burmese children it’s no different. some of these kids, however, have lived their whole lives inside a refugee camp, and have no experience with formal education. likewise their parents aren’t necessarily aware of what is required for ‘back to school’. and so it was that sabe and i were at the integration center in usti, first to show this new group the documentary film that we showed to the previous arrivals, and also, perhaps more importantly, to show them how to make ‘svačina’ for school.

while showing the refugees how to make a sandwich, we taught such words as ‘rohlík’, ‘sýr’, and ‘šunka’. most were trying these foods for the first time. apples were a big hit. sabe made most of the sandwiches initially and then was slowly able to get the women up to try making one on their own. i thought our biggest achievement was at the end, when one lone man came up and made a sandwich. after we wrote down some of the czech food words for him on a piece of paper, he laughed and said “i’ll just serve my family bread!”.

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