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Patrik Kotlár breaks down stereotypes inside the Vlax Romani community of the Czech Republic

23.9.2017 19:45
Patrik Kotlár (PHOTO: Petr Zewlakk Vrabec)
Patrik Kotlár (PHOTO: Petr Zewlakk Vrabec)

Patrik Kotlár is breaking down stereotypes inside the Vlax Romani community of the Czech Republic. He is in his third year at the High School of Management and Law in Brno, where he is focusing on Security Law.

During the fourth meeting of the Baruvas ("We Are Growing") program for Romani college and high school students, journalist Rena Horvátová spoke with him for the Czech Radio program "O Roma Vakeren" about his plans for the future and his studies. "Since childhood I have wanted to be a police officer. I used to watch detective programs on TV, that was my motivation. It didn't stop when I hit adolescence, and that is why I have chosen this field and this school. For the Romani population it would be better if there were Romani police officers, right now there are too few of them," says the 22-year-old, who went on to reveal that the most difficult thing of all was to be accepted to the school.

 

"There were psychological and physical tests that were demanding. Running three kilometers, obstacle course, rope climbing, and more. I did it, though. I am in my third year at school and I want to continue to the college in Holešov," he said.

The young student most enjoys law and criminology at school. "Math, Czech," he says, "if a person wants to, anything can be learned."

Since childhood his dream of becoming a police officer has been supported by his parents above all:  "I am the only one [in the family] who is studying. Some of my extended family support me, others do not, but I don't pay attention to them, I stay focused. In the beginning I would like to work for the rank and file police and then transfer to detective work with the anti-drug unit in Brno."

So far the student has most enjoyed the mandatory practicums. Through them he has been able to personally experience what the work of a police officer in the field involves:  "There have been practicums. Military training, then two weeks of practicum with police officers - I liked that. We drove into the field in the excluded localities."

Kotlár admits that his Vlax Romani origin was, in the beginning, a problem for his fellow students. He did not give up, though, and today he is in his third year of study: "In the beginning it was difficult, but then they realized that if I had been accepted to that school it meant I am different from other Romani people. They mainly kept dropping hints, saying things against Romani people, stuff like that, but I withstood it."

The 22-year-old says he became much more motivated to continue his studies after attending the student meeting in the Krkonoše Mountains organized by ROMEA as part of its Romani Scholarship Program:  "I got to know new people, I established new relationships. That motivated me to go further. I recognized that I am not the only Romani person in this situation, but that there are other Romani students here."

Rena Horvátová, O Roma Vakeren, Český rozhlas, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Baruvas - Rosteme, Education, Olašští Romové, Students



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