Science in Roma ghetto

To touch a snake, to pet a turtle or to look straight into the eyes of a newt – these were the memorable experiences of the children in community centres in Veľká Ida and Luník IX. Researchers from the Slovak Academy of Sciences and the university pedagogues were esteemed guests visiting educators of the Roma children as a part of the project The European Researcher’s Night 2017.

This amazing event was organized by the non-profit organisation, Equity, led by Lýdia Šuchová, a very optimistic person and also a friend of many people living in the edge of society.

Children from Roma ghettos were using microscopes and tweezers to observe small animals which normally live in the bottom of our rivers. Among the other experiences, children learned what fossils are and they could observe their intriguing appearances. Maybe for the first time in their lives they were studying bones and teeth thousands of years old imbedded in ancient rocks. They also witnessed the application of basic physics and chemistry being applied in several small scientific experiments.

It was an exciting experience not only for children, but also for the scientists themselves. Many of the guest scientists come to segregated communities regularly to share their wisdom and to support the children’s developing interest in education in general and scientific investigation in particular, thereby benefiting all citizens of our neighbouring segregated communities. One of our visiting guests, scientist Peter Šottník from the Faculty of Natural Science of Comenius University in Bratislava, was showing experiments being dressed in a T-Shirt with the main motto of the event: Scientist by Heart.

“For me this experience was especially interesting and rewarding since it provided yet another valuable insight into the problems of people from segregated communities. The most grateful visitors are small kids. They seem intrigued by everything. It is extremely gratifying when I can show and explain something to them about my profession in geology. In these meetings I can also see amazing people who work with children in segregated communities and it is a very powerful experience for me. I have immense respect for these people”, said the expert on mining of raw materials.

It is very encouraging to see so many young scientists participating in this event. As a result of this unique opportunity they will be in an excellent position to share with their peers both their experiences enjoyed as well as insights gained at the event. One lasting impression shared is that Roma kids enjoy learning through educating themselves. They appear to require only minimal guidance through both a friendly attitude as well as a well-planned practical way of teaching.

In Lunik IX in a cosy family atmosphere, scientists talked with ETP Slovakia’s clients — both with adults and children. The mayor of Lunik IX, Mr. Marcel Šaňa, also joined the discussion. He presented the history and presence of Lunik IX. Lunik IX continues to suffer the consequences of segregated, marginalized ghettos anywhere in the world – extreme and extensive poverty and tragically sad human stories. Nevertheless, the mayor maintains his characteristic optimistic vision that soon Lunik IX will become an integral part of the city of Kosice and will be appreciated as any other suburb contributing to the rich diversity of the general populace of Kosice.

ETP continues to share his vision and we all hope for a brighter future for our community neighbours whether they are from Veľká Ida, Lunik IX, and any other segregated communities across Slovakia.