Sunday, July 16, 2006

Havel and Lustig

Western Michigan University, sponsors of the Prague Summer Program, presented former Czech Republic President Vaclev Havel and writer and Holocaust survivor Arnost Lustig with honorary doctorates the second night of our program. My friend Sue Mach has shared with me a few of the shots that she took the night of the ceremony. On the left, Havel and his translator shown during his acceptance speech. Havel joked that he has received over 48 honorary doctorates, so people must think that he is more interesting then he really is. He will be visiting Columbia University this fall and Untitled Theater Company #61 has organized a Havel Festival with 17 fully-staged productions in NYC to coincide with Havel's 70th birthday.

Lustig, shown below, did not use a translator, and instead spoke first in English and then in Czech. We wondered a few times whether he was saying the same things in Czech that he said in English, because we could hear laughing when he spoke in Czech. My Czech teacher Hana confirmed my suspicions when she told me that he said a few things to his native audience that he didn't share with the rest of us, such as "if you're not a Communist when you're 20 you have no heart, and if you're still a Communist when you're 30, you have no brain." Lustig was supposed to be one of the program's fiction instructors, but he had to back out, because he is fighting a serious illness.

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