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Oksana Marafioti, successful American author with Romani roots, visits Czech Republic

15.12.2016 21:00
The American Romani author Oksana Marafioti. (PHOTO:  Jan Mihaliček)
The American Romani author Oksana Marafioti. (PHOTO: Jan Mihaliček)

On the occasion of the 2016 Roma Spirit Awards, the Embassy of the United States of America in Prague welcomed Oksana Marafioti, an educator and significant writer with Romani roots. She arrived at the beginning of last week and practically never stopped during her full program - after giving an interview for the January issue of Romano Voďi she visited Romani organizations in Brno and Prague.

Marafioti visited the Museum of Romani Culture in Brno and gave a reading from her successful memoir American Gypsy: A Memoir. The American author's roots are Armenian and Romani.

Until the age of 14 she lived in the former USSR, from which she emigrated to the United States. Together with her family members she performed in a music group for some time and is a classically trained pianist.

Marafioti also worked for some time as a film and video camera operator. She currently lives in Las Vegas, where she teaches creative writing, critical thinking, and literature at a university seminar.

The author is married and has two children. "The Embassy of the USA supports the Romani community in the Czech Republic. Diversity is one of the pillars of America, because cultures from all over the world have formed us. We are pleased to see how successfully Oksana explains the significance of diversity in society through her own experience and successes," commented Tonia Weik, press spokesperson for the Embassy of the United States of America in Prague. 

"It's important that we communicate our experiences with diversity and inclusion. We were especially glad to contribute to the visit of Oksana Marafioti to the Czech Republic and we are proud that thanks to us she can communicate her experiences with immigrating to the United States to a Czech audience during her four-day program," Weik added.

The author's visit culminated in her attending this year's Roma Spirit Awards, where she presented the award in the category of Media. What are her feelings after visiting the Czech Republic?

"I was most captivated by the plentiful physical presence of representatives of Romani organizations at local level and their obvious, tireless efforts to achieve positive changes in the social system and its approach toward Romani people, as well as how Romani people themselves perceive their own role in contemporary society," she told "The grassroots organizations here seem more active to me than anywhere else."

"I noticed that everything that is necessary to achieve successful political and/or social transformation is, in your country, present to a great extent: You have functional community centers here, mentoring programs for children, inclusive programs and also very necessary public services," Marafioti said. Her reading in Brno from her new book, a sequel to her previous best seller, was reportedly given a positive reception.

"In my next novel I would love to dedicate myself to the topic of the creative process, or what it was like for me to work on my first book. Both books complement each other in a certain way, although in the second book, in addition to questions of creativity, I also focus on the impact that publishing had on me," she said.

adg, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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actions, Culture, literární čtení, Literatura, Osobnosti, Roma Spirit, USA


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