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Czech Republic
Czech Republic

June 6, 2004

Report from Sandra Lovelace on Trip to Czech Republic

Recently Sandra Lovelace, an International Consultant for Home School Legal Defense Association, and her husband Curt visited Hungary and the Czech Republic to offer support to local homeschoolers. HSLDA Senior Counsel Chris Klicka helped prepare their way by contacting a local Czech official and the president of the Czech Home School Association on their behalf. HSLDA also contributed homeschool-related handouts and books for the Lovelaces to distribute during their trip.

During the first week of the trip Curt and Sandra ministered to expatriate families attending an education conference in Budapest, almost all of whom homeschooled either full or part-time. Although the Lovelaces have served the families who come in from all over Europe, Russia and central Asia to this conference for four years, they both agree that this visit was by far the most "successful." Without a doubt, God set up many divine appointments all along the way.

Curt and Sandra's time together with these expatriate families included presenting workshops on Developing an Educational Atmosphere at Home and Learning Can Be Fun to support the homeschool lifestyle. They also spoke separately to meetings just for the men and women. In these gatherings they hoped to reach the emotional and spiritual needs of burdened fathers and mothers by encouraging them to rest in and follow the One with whom they are sharing a yoke.

The week that was spent together with these families allowed the Lovelaces to spend time with them over meals and in special appointments. They rarely ate alone and had numerous consultations concerning homeschooling and family issues, including meeting with parents in more casual settings such as during walks outside and in hotel hallways. One of Sandra's favorite occasions for service is Story Hour with Aunt Sandra. She was given the privilege of reading to a group of children who may have never been to a story hour in English before. The children were enthralled.

By far the most exciting thing that happened in Budapest was that Imre Szoke, President of the Hungarian Home School Association, came to the education conference and met some of his expatriate homeschooling brothers and sisters. Having these two segments of the homeschool community meet each other has been an integral part of Sandra’s vision for the international homeschool community. And God made it happen!

Curt had to return home at that point, but Sandra went on to Prague in the Czech Republic where she turned her main focus toward national homeschoolers. Soon after she arrived, Michal Semin, President of the Czech Home School Association, contacted her with the help of Senior Counsel Chris Klicka of the Home School Legal Defense Association. Michal had arranged for Sandra to meet with Mrs. Sojdrová, chairman of the Christian Democratic party, at the Czech Parliament. He also arranged for her to give interviews for the AGORA, a conservative newspaper, and the Czech homeschool newsletter. Finally, Michal organized a public lecture for Sandra at the Civic Institute under the title Homeschooling in the United States and Around the World.

There were still two or three expatriate homeschool families in Prague with whom Sandra was able to meet. They discussed current curriculum and future plans based on the needs of their individual children. There is a very different feel about the life of families homeschooling in Prague than the families who serve in more remote and less developed areas. It is clear that they don't suffer to the same degree from isolation or deprivation.

Sandra based the lecture she gave at the Civic Institute around the history of homeschooling in the US. As she unfolded it, she wove in pieces of Europe’s newly developing homeschool community to show its echoing path. The attendees stayed on for almost two hours asking questions on a variety of topics. At the end "Peder" said he was very encouraged and hopeful about having to deal with the Czech legal situation.

The most exciting results in Prague were the steps taken toward unity and support among the local homeschooling community. During a conversation, a homeschooling mother asked about the lecture Sandra was to give that afternoon, which was on the topic of homeschooling for Czech nationals. The mother excitedly asked Sandra if she thought there would be a possibility that her homeschooled children could get together with some Czech homeschooled children, and Sandra told her that she would look into it.

Her request was relayed to Michal and he was very interested in the idea, directing that his name and telephone number be given to the mother so that he could connect her with a national family that would be a good mix. The Lord's hand could be seen in moving so quickly to establish this kind of contact and relationship among the homeschoolers.