Kristýna Omastová lived in various parts of Mexico where she worked as a volunteer. I have studied Spanish, Portuguese and Ibero-American studies – History of Latin America at the Carolina University in Prague. Today, Kristýna explains in detail her work with Poradna pro Integraci, an organization without a lucrative fund, which focuses on helping foreigners throughout their initial development in Prague.
What is Poradna pro Integraci about and why is it important for speakers in Prague?
Poradna pro Integraci (the “Integration Counseling Center” in English) is an NGO that has been helping foreigners live in the Czech Republic for more than 20 years. Our main activity is free social and legal advice. So for example, when a foreigner wants to renew his residence permit, apply for permanent residency or Czech citizenship or need to write an appeal, one of our lawyers will attend. On the other hand, our social workers help to find work, housing, a family doctor or a school for the children, to process financial support in maternity, etc.
We also have a language school Centrum Czech In where Czech and other language courses are offered; It is a social enterprise which means that the courses have a very economic cost, and that all their profits are invested in the functioning of the organization.
I work in Poradna as an intercultural worker for the Spanish-speaking and Portuguese-speaking community. I counsel Latin Americans, Spaniards and Portuguese, I give basic advice, I am an interpreter in consultations with our lawyers and social workers, and I also accompany our clients to schools, doctors or offices of the Ministry of the Interior so they can communicate better , if your Czech level is limited. Basically I can Inquire about almost anything That has to do with life in the Czech Republic . Or I know how to answer your questions or I can channel them to someone who can solve them.
Apart from integration services in general also offers activities for families?
We have free time activities for families with children, for example there are excursions to castles or the zoo, sports days, pottery workshops and much more. We celebrate together typical Czech celebrations, for example we paint eggs in Holy Week, or every year in December Mikuláš (Saint Nicholas) visits us with the Devil and the Angel. However, we also introduce the foreign customs to the Czech Republic: together with Club Mexico CZ we have been running for 3 consecutive years a typical Christmas inn where we break the piñata, there are mariachi etc.
How much time do you have working there and what do you like most about your work?
I have spent almost 2 years in Poradna and for the positives of my work, I do not know where to start because there are many. I like that my work is useful, that it has a positive impact; That I personally contribute to Latinos successfully integrating into the Czech Republic and Czech society is more diverse, to different nationalities can coexist harmoniously enriching each other, I being that bridge that connects. I am happy that I can take advantage of my experience of having lived a few years in Mexico, and the knowledge I acquired in the university, since I studied Spanish and Portuguese philology and Latin American studies.I also can not fail to mention our excellent team: my colleagues are my friends with whom I share many things not only professional, but also personal, I really appreciate them! And I love that my work is so diverse, I always do and learn new things! For example, now I am organizing an event called Plaza Mexicana, there will be authentic Mexican food and a live group that plays are jarocho, it will be on June 10 in Containall in Stromovka, everyone is invited! I am also organizing an informal Spanish-speaking group called Banda Praguense. The members are both Latinos and Czechs who speak Spanish, and we meet every 15 days to do various activities.We have had a barbecue, a literary meeting, a trip to a brewery, we have gone to a beer to beergarden … Next Saturday we will do something very typical Czech, a canoe ride on the river Sázava! everyone is invited! I am also organizing an informal Spanish-speaking group called Banda Praguense. The members are both Latinos and Czechs who speak Spanish, and we meet every 15 days to do various activities. We have had a barbecue, a literary meeting, a trip to a brewery, we have gone to a beer to beergarden … Next Saturday we will do something very typical Czech, a canoe ride on the river Sázava! everyone is invited! I am also organizing an informal Spanish-speaking group called Banda Praguense.The members are both Latinos and Czechs who speak Spanish, and we meet every 15 days to do various activities. We have had a barbecue, a literary meeting, a trip to a brewery, we have gone to a beer to beergarden … Next Saturday we will do something very typical Czech, a canoe ride on the river Sázava!
What would you say to a Latin American or who has just arrived in Prague with the intention of staying here?
I would recommend you to attend a free course funded by the Ministry of the Interior called Welcome to the Czech Republic. You will get information about your rights and many tips that will make your life easier here! [Pullquote] [/ pullquote]
And another very important thing … .Learn Czech! Really. I know that at the beginning it seems to be very difficult language for a speaker and especially in Prague it is easy to stay in the international social bubble, but the effort is worth it, it will open many doors. With knowledge of Czech will be more self-sufficient and will not depend on information or help from third parties. Also, I think that the Czechs are not as cold as they say, they just need to know more about the person to form a closer relationship with them. Speaking (or even trying to speak) a little bit of Czech helps a lot, be it with the supermarket cashier, in the office of the Ministry of the Interior or with future in-laws.