LIGHT AND SHADOW: Prague correspondent Arie Farnam says she was happy to report good news in her update on the lives of Roma in the Czech Republic (page 10). "Sometimes it's hard to reconcile the extremes of this country," says Arie. "I know so many Romany families in distress people who have been attacked by skinheads, barred from schooling, or forced out of their homes onto the street that it is hard to believe my eyes when something hopeful comes along."
Her interviews with graduates of the Romany Secondary School uncovered new confidence in the upcoming generation. "I expected shy teenagers, with lowered eyes, afraid to speak, like most Romany kids I know." But the grads were self-assured, their answers straightforward, and they had a confident, yet meticulously polite manner. "I was surprised to learn that three of them had been accepted to the law faculty of Charles University in Prague. The entrance exams are among the toughest in the country, and perhaps in all of Europe. If any other Czech high school could claim that three of 25 graduates had been accepted there, they would receive high praise."
She considered inviting the teens to a kite-flying party with some of her Czech friends. "Then I remembered that the Czechs would never allow these Romanies anywhere near our party. Their anti-Roma jokes are so common, I have learned to tune them out, but I know several of my otherwise open-minded circle of friends have been in street fights with Romanies. I hope someday I can invite all my friends, Roma and Czech, to my own parties."