Moon over Sasova—One American’s Experience Teaching in Post-Cold War Slovakia
No one knew during the 1980s that they were living in the twilight years of the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies. Born in 1970, Chris Shaffer was always fascinated with the Cold War. During a study abroad experience in 1991, he learned about Education for Democracy, a group that was recruiting English teachers to come to Slovakia. A year and a half later, he found himself moving to Banska Bystrica, Slovakia, and living in a suburb called Sasova.
Slovakia had been an independent nation for two weeks when he arrived, with the Velvet Divorce occurring on January 1st, 1993. Shaffer, a native of Alabama who grew up in Georgia, found himself in the middle of a frigid eastern European winter, and surrounded by people who were eager to learn more about the United States and the West through him. Over the next six months he made friends, visited different cities and countries, discovered a variety of new foods, drank everything that was put in front of him, and discovered that all people have far more in common than they often realize.
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