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Czech language class at Blinn-Schulenburg connects students with their ancestors

Instructor Thadious Polasek is fifth-generation Czech

April 26, 2017

At first glance, the Blinn College-Schulenburg Campus seems an unlikely location for one of just a few Czech language programs in the State of Texas and the nation.

But thanks to the community’s rich Czech heritage and the expertise of instructor and researcher Thadious Polasek, Czech has proven to be among the most popular community education courses Blinn-Schulenburg offers.

A fifth-generation Czech, Polasek teaches beginning, intermediate and advanced Czech language courses. With a rich Czech heritage in Texas and the surrounding area, Polasek is continually inspired to research Czech history.

“The enthusiasm of the students in learning the language is what keeps me teaching,” Polasek said. “Czech is our heritage and a heritage language of Texas.”

Blinn’s Czech courses are offered at the Schulenburg Campus and online. Students from Virginia, Florida, Georgia, and across the state of Texas are enrolled in the courses.

Many students enroll so that they can read diaries of ancestors or monuments in the Czech language.

“Czech is my heritage and I always wanted to learn, but the class was never available in college at Texas Tech,” said Sandra Morkovsky, a resident of Shiner and student in the intermediate class. “My family has letters from my great grandfather and we are now able to translate what those letters are saying.”

Polasek grew up in Texas speaking a Moravian dialect, but his high school only offered Spanish as a language. The lack of availability of Czech language classes is what inspired him to become a Czech language instructor.

Polasek has been a part-time Blinn instructor for 15 years and also serves as director at the Schulenburg Library. Polasek taught Czech for 25 years at Flatonia High School, while teaching at Blinn.

The Czech Ex-Students Association of Texas (CESAT) recently held its annual meeting at Blinn-Schulenburg and presented $2,400 to Campus Director Becky Garlick to provide for scholarship funding for students taking the Czech language courses.

“This area was primarily settled by Czech and German immigrants,” Garlick said. “It is an important class for preserving the heritage language of the Czech people who settled this area.”

The next Czech courses will begin in Fall 2017 for beginning, intermediate, and advanced students. For more information, contact Loraine Orellana at 979-743-5237.

To support the future of the Blinn College Schulenburg Czech program through donations, scholarships, books or operational support, please contact the Blinn College Foundation at 979-830-4017.