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Sunshine in my Eyes

There are Saturdays and Saturdays! We have all lived through them: some eventful, some leisurely, other stressful and some just pure beauty! And such was mine last week! A bright jewel of a Saturday!!!

I was lucky that day to be surrounded by eight eager happy cute girls in colorful eye-catchy costumes whose quick feet, quick turns, wide smiles and flying ribbons from long ponytails seemed to steal the fancy from the wonderful kind cheering audience.

Mid October is the time: The Czech and Slovak Republic has its turn at the International Village Stage to share its heritage with dances, songs, history stories and such. My family is proud and happy to be a part of the House of Pacific Relations that is an umbrella for the ethnic minorities in San Diego. Some lucky nations like us have their own Spanish hacienda style cottage, a place to gather, to share, to offer.

And so, just like in the past years, we were happy to delve into preparing the program for one of the two days our House is performing, devising how we can entertain our audience by sharing what is typical of our countries. For seven weekends the girls were brought from different corners of San Diego to my backyard where

we would conceive, rehearse, practice, practice some more, trying to polish every step, every verse, every melodic line! And sometime the girls, like on a beautiful

Sunday afternoon being brought straight from some fun activities, may not be so hip to rehearse, but they were so easy to inspire! So easy to understand that every joy from giving something enjoyable to the community comes with hard work and well, some sacrifice! And so, the girls mastered ocarinas (ancient Aztecs ceramic flute) performing Dvorak's Largo from the 9th symphony and Ode to Joy by Beethoven.

We wrote a fun poem about where the Czechs come from and what they are about — while the girls would correct some of my wild ideas to "adjust" English words to fit the rhyme! "It makes no sense in English", they would scream and laugh and giggle at my linguistic variation of "groovy" to "grove", and such. And then the dancing! The girls danced with tambourines a czardas dance, then without tambourine another czardas, and at the end one more czardas! Czardas, it is, their favorite dance! Its acceleration and upbeat attractive melodies make everyone smile!! And for educating our audience, the girls recited their homework about Czech inventions! From brewing the best beers to the Czech inventions as are contact lenses, blood types, fingerprinting or coining the word robot!

Our performance was beautifully complemented by an accordion duo , Donna Kaspar and Christine Boris-Esteban, playing some famous enticing -to-dance to polkas with bravura! And everyone appreciated and loved the beautiful heartfelt performance of Dvořák's Romantic pieces by a classical duo, prof. Ondřej Lewit, violin and his student Sashi Chukravanen, piano.

Some bluegrass banjo & guitar tunes by Pavel Chvístek and Vladislav Hanč uplifted everyone's spirit, and several more czardases sung by me brought me a great joy from sharing my love for folk songs!

And so it was.

I was so happy and appreciative of the performers who all offered their talent and time, I am thankful to the parents of the girls for sharing my vision, donating their time, and for their endless effort and support, I thank my own children's friend, sweet talented Clara who stepped in when we suddenly needed one more dancer!

I have always admired the visionary Frank Drugan's successful attempt to create within the California Pacific International Exposition of 1935 in Balboa Park our international village. It stands for metaphor for the wish of world peace. It may seem naive, but I embrace his idea, "an experiment of brotherly love", as he calls it, wholeheartedly. I always believed in noble ideals. And our forefathers, whom I admire tremendously, seemed to have an abundance of ideals out of which many changed into beautiful realities. Their ideals are proof than when we put differences aside, a great and beautiful things are accomplished.

Just imagine: when San Diego had barely 900 houses and over 2,000 people, the leaders decided to put aside staggering

1,400 acres to create, from an arid non-arable desert, beautiful lush park. And they did!! If you stood in 1868 where the main plaza is today, there was nothing but chaparral, cactuses, snakes, spiders and the land as hard as a cement, as it took two million dynamit-blasted holes for irrigation...and today? The park has over two millions plants, out of it 33,000 palms, 16, 000 trees in 300 kinds, many exotic species that the pessimists deemed "waste of effort and money" as are Jacaranda, poinsettia, orchid tree, bougainvillea, bird of paradise, thirty kinds of ficus...That is what I call vision, perseverance and fulfilling ideal even without possibility to ever see the work completed.

I am happy I can be a part of such a grand project as an ideal of world peace illustrated by an idea of nations sharing one space, one stage, one ideal.

Having an opportunity to present the beauty of different colors and melodies of humanity through dance steps, songs, music and kind words with sunshine in my eyes on a bright afternoon — is a task I am excited to be involved in.

It was a beautiful sunny inspiring Saturday and I thank you all who came to watch us, and all who were interested reading about this happy beautiful day!

Special thanks to: Moran family, Pop family, Svoboda family, Čapek family, Kapička family; Clara MacCulloch, Noemi, Emily, Kači, Helenka, Simonka Kristinka, Andrejka, Ondřej Lewit, Sashi Chukravanen, Donna Kaspar, Christine Boris Esteban, Pavel Chvístek, Vladislav Hanč, the volunteers in the House of Czech and Slovak Republic, and Standa Hruza, the President Emeritus of the Czech and Slovak House.


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