As a foreigner in Slovakia, these are fascinating times, to say the least. We have a unique front row seat to what has all the elements to become a defining moment in Slovakia's modern history.
Although "fascinating" might not actually be the right word, it is not every day that you find yourself living in a country in crisis, with a nation so angry that thousands of people are turning to the streets as once their parents did.
But how engaged are the foreigners actually with these issues? Or, rather, how engaged should they be?
Largely, I expect this to depend on how strongly you as a foreigner feel part of Slovak society. Speaking from the point of view of Bratislava, you could roughly divide the foreign population in two groups: the passerby foreigner and the here-to-stay foreigner.
The passerby kind are those coming over to Bratislava and work for a year or two, before moving on to another country or going back to home with a backpack of foreign experience. This group may not feel much engaged with the crisis and will rather stand on the sideline, as spectators, watching it all play out in front of them. They might be fascinated by it all but will not feel the urge to join the ranks of protesters, for it does not immediately touch them or effect their lives.
It is the here-to-stay kind of foreigner that might feel they want to be part of the change. At some point in time, we decided to build our lives in Slovakia and therefore have most to lose from a crisis like the one we see today. Some of us came to Slovakia believing to be a passerby but having met someone or for another reason, turned into a here-to-stay foreigner. Others came here with the full intention to build their lives in a new country. Regardless of how we came to plant out roots here, we are or rather should be invested in raising our voice and fight for a better future for the people, because we are those people, just as much as Slovaks are.
I have written before about how quickly I felt included in Slovak society, how the people welcomed me and adopted me into their ranks. They did that for me, so now I should do this for them. Collectively, we are responsible for the future of our children, whether you are Slovak, Italian, German or, in my case, Dutch. Slovakia is our chosen soil on which we will grow our trees, regardless of our nationality.
So, should foreigners be interested and engaged in the struggles of the Slovak people? Yes, I believe we should. These struggles are just as much ours to carry.
Boudewijn Dekker is a Dutch blogger who writes about his experiences and observations as a foreigner living and working in Slovakia. He shares his stories, pictures and opinions as The Curious Dutchman on his blogpage, his Facebook Page as well as on Instagram.
19. Mar 2018 at 7:00 | Boudewijn Dekker