Petr and Martina are two Czechs visiting the Tobacco Valley for their summer vacation. Petr who is 29 and works as a translator and teacher in Brno, Czech Republic, came to Eureka four years ago on a trip with friends. This is Martina's first time to the US. She is a teacher and jewelry maker in Brno, has excellent English skills and is 37 years old. It has been a wonderful time for them to be here as they were able to experience the Down from the Mountain Fest, Shakespeare in the Parks, the county fair and the Bull Thing. They also met numerous people in the valley. When asked what strikes them the most about this rural community, Martina said, "the community life. How people share their lives and help each other." Coming from a European city, she had never experienced any thing like this before. Martina was able to spend a day with three older women in the valley showing them her craft. She was surprised to find these women open to new ideas and incredibly vital. Martina also said, "People seem to live the things they believe here and it shows. They are honest. The people I met here are friendly and hospitable."
Petr doesn't feel that the valley has changed all that much since he was here the first time. In fact that is why he returned - because of the area's appeal. He was surprised that the people he met four years ago remember him and are genuinely glad to see him. He said for someone who lives a stressful life in a city, it's soothing to come to a place where individuals welcome him back so easily.
Although it has been a treat for them both to spend time in the Tobacco Valley, it has also been good for the community. Martina and Petr met many new people on this trip, have had many conversations and have shared stories. There are people who have learned from them - about life in the Czech Republic and what it means to be a young adult in Europe today. Martina stressed the value of traveling and interfacing with another culture. She said, "It may seem like a cliche but travel does open one up to new ideas and perspectives."
About the Author: Rita Collins. I am a believer in the power of community and for now I call the Tobacco Valley home. I have lived in nine states and three counties and this community here amazes me - how people reach out to neighbors and even travelers. I've never lived in a place that demonstrates people caring for each other so well. And I've never lived in a place that has such a high percentage of talented musicians and artists. I work with the the Sunburst Community Service Foundation, a nonprofit that began in Eureka twenty years ago and now serves numerous communities in western Montana. And I just started a new business, St. Rita's Amazing Traveling Bookstore and Textual Apothecary. I never could have imagined life being this exciting in my sixth decade.