Monday, 23 October 2017

Don't miss: Prague's 2nd annual Bilingual Picnic

By Emily Prucha | Prague Daily Monitor |
5 May 2009

If you're a part of a bilingual or multi-cultural family and would like to enjoy a casual afternoon in the park with other bilingual families, pack your picnic blanket and a basket of food (perhaps even a national dish to share) and join the gathering at Kampa Park on Sunday, 7 June, from 12 to 3 pm.

Last year's inaugural picnic near the Kampa Park Museum brought over 100 people, and this year an even larger turn-out is anticipated. In addition to a laid-back picnic atmosphere, the picnic will feature a few organized children activities, including storytelling and face painting for younger children to art activities, Frisbee or football (soccer) for older kids. When not joining in games or chasing run-away toddlers, parents will have a chance to share conversation about their lives in the Czech Republic, as well as sample one another's diverse picnic offerings.

Despite encompassing different nationalities, ethnicity and languages, last year's picnic attendees shared the common denominator of living in the Czech Republic with multicultural heritages. It was amazing to watch as the children jumped from Czech and English to other languages and back again with ease. Many of the children at the picnic, although from bilingual families, attend state elementary and secondary schools in Czech and are used to functioning as regular Czech kids in their school and after-school play environments. The picnic provides these children with the chance to interact with other children/teens who also speak two or more languages.

Sponsored by Class Acts, a civic association founded in 2007 by bilingual families living in Prague, the bilingual picnic for children is only one of the diverse activities and ongoing-classes the organization currently offers for Prague's multi-cultural and bilingual families. Under the umbrella of the Class Acts organization, the founders also run Kids in Motion courses, semester-long drama, movement, and music classes in English for children ranging from 2-6 years old. There is also monthly Saturday morning storytelling in English for children from 3 years hosted by Mr. Snooze, a beloved (albeit very sleepy) puppet who manages to crack smiles from even the most timid participants.

With a two-fold focus on dramatic exploration for children as well as strong support for bilingual education in Czech schools, Class Acts sponsors a range of one-time events, including a children's explorative nature walk through Divoká Šárka, to an annual Q&A on Czech preschools for non-Czech parents seeking basic information about the preschool system and registration requirements.

The Bilingual Picnic is an opportune time to garner more information about upcoming Class Acts events and opportunities and, for those so inclined, even to volunteer to help out on upcoming bilingual and multi-cultural activities.

Bilingual Picnic at Kampa Park 2008Bilingual Picnic at Kampa Park 2008Last year, once the picnic's planned activities were exhausted, families continued to linger. Babies napped in the sun while children raced their new-found friends down the path and parents stretched back on their picnic blankets to relax. More than anything else the picnic is a chance for parents and children to come together in a casual setting to celebrate the unique experience of being part of a bilingual family.

Volunteers for heading up games for particular age groups are still needed and if you are interested in helping out with a game or leading an activity for children (for example songs and storytelling for 2-6, or a football game, scooter race, Frisbee for kids 7+ or teens 10+), please send an email with your name, age group you would like to help with and a game or activity to classacts@email.cz.

Hope to see you there!

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Emily Prucha is a Life Section columnist for the Monitor. She likes writing about bilingual and multicultural families.
You can reach her at emily@praguemonitor.com. You can read more of her stories here.