Job offer key when Slovaks decide about return

Discrimination, exclusion and hatred towards minorities keeping expats away.

(Source: Peter Jančárik)

In this story, you can read about:

  • The most important factor behind Slovaks’ decision to return home
  • The new Vráť sa project hoping to lure Slovaks home
  • Coming home is not always an easy choice

When she was 12, Anna Symington-Maar left Slovakia with her family for her father’s work. She spent the rest of her childhood in France, Belgium, and Singapore, before studying physics and philosophy at King’s College in London.

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She later gained a Master’s degree in education from Oxford University, which helped her when working for UNESCO in Paris and also on projects in India and Thailand. In 2014, after 15 years of living abroad, she decided to return to Slovakia after being invited to co-found a new educational leadership programme called ‘Teach for Slovakia’ aimed at helping provide children, especially from minorities or a disadvantaged environment, better education .

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“My girlfriend and I agreed that we would try it for two years and see what happens,” Anna says.

That was five years ago, and she and her now-wife, Flo, still live in Slovakia.

During that time, Teach for Slovakia’s team has grown from five people to 120 and Anna has got married and she and her wife have a son.

Read also: To return or not return? Read more 

However, she says living in Slovakia has not always been easy.

“We’ve faced personal attacks, exclusion, hatred and discrimination because of our relationship,” Anna explains. “At least once a week, I’ll mention my wife and somebody will ask: ‘You mean husband, right?’”

Come home, please

According to experts, Slovakia is facing a shortage of labour, particularly highly-skilled and experienced workers with leadership skills.

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