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Reader feedback: A complicated issue

Re: Roma leaders warn of another exodus, News shorts, Nov 18-23, Vol 9 No 44,

The assimilation of Roma can be achieved. I have lived in Slovakia for 30 years and grew up with many Roma friends. Roma from cities, towns, and larger villages in western Slovakia are usually much more assimilated than those from eastern Slovakia. When I was about 7-8 years old (1965), there was a Roma settlement on the outskirts of my town in western Slovakia. Roma built their dwellings, without any permit, on land they didn't own - mostly without proper sanitation. A few years later, authorities gave these Roma homes in town, basically separating them. It was probably drastic for them, but they assimilated quite well.

So I remember these settled Roma, but also those that were still travelling with their wagons drawn by horses. Even settled Roma kept away from the travelling ones. I don't know what happened to the travelling ones after communism ended their way of life. Perhaps they built those shanty settlements in rural Slovakia and kept their way of life, speaking only their own Roma dialect. Where I am from, every Roma speaks Slovak and their own dialect. I personally think the Roma situation in all of central Europe, and to a lesser degree in western Europe, is much more complicated than any of us can imagine.

Pete, Slovakia

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