Since being in Prague, I have been asked 2 primary questions: 1) How do I like Prague? and 2) Why did I chose the Czech Republic? Well, if you want to know how I like Prague, you can read my blog. Bits and pieces come through there. But the second question and its answer is relevant to this spot. I am originally from Hallettsville, Texas, a small town about half-way between Houston and San Antonio. This is in the middle of the Texas-Czech community in Texas. Every 10-20 miles there is another small town where you can find kolaches (koláče) and Czech bakeries, butchers and festivals. Every year my mother's family goes to Moravia, Texas for the family reunion. In the 1850s, her family came from central Moravia. My grandparents, although both born in Texas, spoke Czech and so I remember being just a small girl and hearing them speak this language and knowing it's Czech; I didn't know what they're saying, just that they were speaking Czech. Therefore, I grew up very aware of my Czech heritage, and on my father's side German heritage, although that is a little more intrinsic than public and I believe it has to do with WWII but that's not here or there.
So, around 2000, I was reading Friedman's Lexus and the Olive Tree about globalization and I came across an article in the NYT about East versus West Germans, post-reunification, and how they think differently about their nationality due to their different experiences in the post-WWII years of the Cold War. I began to wonder how East European identities were evolving in the post-socialist, globalized world. Now, I know that my original ideas were naïve and simplistic but it got me on the road to my doctoral work. However, I decided that if I was going to study post-socialism, I would work in the Czech Republic. For some crazy reason, I had always wanted to learn Czech. Jsem bláznivá!
I started at IU in 2004 and made my first trip to Prague in 2005 where I met Robert through family connections from Texas – see the continuing relevance? Robert and his colleagues were starting a business and as I stayed in touch with them I became interested in what they were doing – recruiting Czech nurses to work in Texas-Czech communities to help with the nursing shortage. As the company developed, so did my research and scholarly interests but they remained focused on this event – the emigration of Czech nurses to work abroad.
So that's the dissertation topic. However, I have other research interests. Food, for example. I originally wanted to look at nationalism and identity through food but the labor migration project worked better for a number of reasons. But I still dabble and hope to get back to some food studies eventually. I am also interested in gender. Working with the population and topic that I do, it is somewhat inevitable but I'm finding some interesting perspectives to consider using gender. Recently, I've also become interested in how out-migration of health services impacts access to healthcare and hope to work in this in the future, specifically in rural areas.