In about two weeks, so long as my nation pulls its head out of its collective backside in re Covid’s delta variant, I will be on my way to Prague, Czechia, to participate in SabreSlash 2021. The betting is even money as to how effectively we get numbers down and/or whether the EU will ban US travelers, but fingers crossed I can make it.
I left facebook a while ago, but friends send me screenshots of the adverts and posts about the event and it looks like a blast. The first day consists of classes, one of which I’m teaching, and the second day there’s a tournament, cutting party, and mustache contest—this last has contestants attempting the glorious lip-fur a la Barbasetti or Masiello. I love events like these and I’m eager to meet the other attendees as well. We’re at capacity for pandemic guidelines size-wise, but people are coming from all over the EU, from Mexico, and the US and I know I will learn a lot.
Happily, I’ll have a few days to see Prague as well. The historian in me can’t wait to see the castles, the 15th cen. clock, St. Vitus Cathedral, and museums, but this is also the city of Kafka and Kundera, of Dvorak and Smetana, of Vaclev Havel and Siegfried Flesch, one of the country’s most famous fencers, and I’ll be grateful to see what I can in the short time I’m there.
It is a signal honor to be invited to teach there, and I’m doubly humbled by my hosts putting me up during my stay. Though I’ve seen a few different corners of the world, I’ve found that the best experiences, for me anyway, are those that give one a look at life and culture in a new place. Much as I love historic sites, what sticks with me, what I value most are the conversations over coffee or drinks, struggling to communicate in a language not my own, making connections with people, and gaining a slightly better sense of their world. The chance to fence on top of that? All the better!