It is such fun to befriend someone from another country and see your country through their eyes. Kate and I would spend hours discussing the difference between our two cultures. One experience we had together shocked me.
During Christmas, I invited Kate to a meeting of my PEO chapter. PEO International is a U.S.-based philanthropic educational organization for women. It supports the only college in the world owned by women, run by women, exclusively for women. PEO also supports the largest scholarship endowment exclusively for female graduate students from anywhere on the globe.
That evening my house was decorated for Christmas -- and if I do say so myself -- it was so beautiful! The ladies were pretty in their Christmas finery. The sense of community among us was so strong. Our program for the evening was to exchange Christmas ornaments and one holiday tradition that was important to our own families. It was a warm, magical evening as we shared traditions that were beloved to us.
Afterwards Kate said she had never experienced anything like it. The idea of women getting together with such a sense of purpose to enjoy each other's company would never be respected back home. It would be labeled a "hen party" by both sexes. Because men would deride such an endeavor, women wouldn't do it.
I could hardly believe this. Surely women are the same the world over? We love to get together and learn from each other. Indeed, the International Women's Association of Prague looks wonderfully stimulating and enriching.
What if Czech culture is really sexist when I get there? They do burn women after all, albeit witches, in effigy every Spring!