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Viktoria Nikolaeva, a specialist in linguistics and multicultural communication, is the principal founder of the “Brusinka” multicultural centre, and has been helping expat families in Moravia since 2016. Brno Daily spoke to Viktoria about her idea of multiculturalism, and what expats in Brno can do to better integrate into the local culture.

“I came from Moscow, Russia, 11 years ago, not planning to stay here for more than 2 years, but in the end I found out that Brno is the best place to live,” said Viktoria. She explained the origins of the idea for the Brusinka centre: “I first started organizing activities for Russian-speaking children in Brno in summer 2016, when I realized that it was not possible to find anything here in Russian for my children, to help them to learn the main family language.” With the help and support of several Russian families and Viktoria’s colleagues – singer and actress Elizaveta Chernyak, artist Ksenia Kryuchkova and others who wanted to use and develop their native Russian language, the Brusinka center has gradually developed into a truly multicultural organization with classes and activities every day. 

“I came from Moscow, Russia, 11 years ago, not planning to stay here for more than 2 years, but in the end I found out that Brno is the best place to live,” said Viktoria, one of the Brusinka founders. Photo: @Nata Bubyr.

“We are helping foreigners integrate in a new country, providing Czech language courses, Russian and English language courses with a cultural element,” said Viktoria. “Our preparation courses for exams (high school entry exams, permanent residence exams) attract people from the whole Czech Republic, not only from Brno. Our activities are actually split into these three languages – Czech, Russian and English, so you can choose to participate in an event in a different language. We now plan to organize Italian meetings.”

Brusinka multicultural centre has something for everyone – from English language lessons to a chess club and rugby games

This summer, Brusinka provided mostly individual lessons for children and adults such as language classes in Czech, Russian, English, Italian, German and Chinese. The centre also offers individual classes in Art, Acting, Piano, Guitar, Singing and Rhetoric. This Autumn, from mid-September, their team will continue offering group activities for children. Russian options include Russian language classes, learning games for preschoolers, chess, a tourist club, game club, Art classes, and Acting classes. There will be Czech-language classes in school preparation, mathematics, and a new rugby section for children. English classes will also run at the centre. 

The centre also offers individual classes in Art, Acting, Piano, Guitar, Singing and Rhetoric. Photo: @Annie Žak.
For adults, Brusinka runs Foxberry Acting Studio – one group is in Russian, another is in English. Photo: @Karina Babkova.

For adults, Brusinka runs Foxberry Acting Studio – one group is in Russian, another is in English. New participants can register anytime. Brusinka also organizes trips to nature and sightseeing, excursions, language meetings, concerts, theatre plays from Foxberry Studio, meetings with interesting people, a board games club, a New Year celebration with performances for children in December, Art workshops, cooking classes, and a book club. Additionally, they provide translating and interpreting services.

“We are also giving children an introduction to different professions – visiting local firefighters, candy manufacturers, and so on. Our team has a lot of different ideas. We are also inviting foreigners who came to Brno from different countries to provide workshops about their own cultures,” said Viktoria. “From my point of view it’s important to understand the value of a multicultural environment. The ability to communicate with people of diverse backgrounds, ages and experiences helps you integrate into a society better and also better understand yourself and your own culture.”

“As you have the strength and knowledge to move to a different country, you will certainly be strong enough to overcome all the troubles in a new place! May the force, faith and good mood be with you!”, Viktoria said, with laughter. “And come to our centre to learn languages, develop your creativity, acting or musical talent, or for example to reinforce your public speaking and meet new friends. Try to keep up your own culture, but also use your perseverance and optimism to inspire people to see the value of a multicultural environment, where the different experiences of different people interact to shape a world and drive the synergy around you.”

Don’t pay money to the first person you meet

In case of troubles in a new country, Viktoria recommends seeking support at Centrum pro cizince JMK. Brusinka can help with additional services. “First thing – don’t pay money to the first person you meet, contact a specialist if you have any important questions,” she advised. “Do not sign any contracts without a legal consultation. Even if communication with local people in Moravia is usually based on trust, when you don’t know Czech you are a stranger and as in any country there will always be people who want to deceive you. And do not be afraid to contact the police in case of an emergency. Do not drink beer with a stranger, always take your friends with you! If you are alone – find friends on Facebook (Living in Brno, Foreigners in Brno groups). Also it is better to order taxis from applications – Uber, Liftago, etc. And don’t be afraid, your children will learn Czech!,” concluded Viktoria, answering some of the most frequent concerns of new-coming foreigners in one breath.

“Try to keep up your own culture, but also use your perseverance and optimism to inspire people to see the value of a multicultural environment,” says Viktoria.

Centrum Brusinka was founded in August 2020 as a successor organization to the Russian School in Brno. Among the co-founders were people whose goal is to provide interesting activities and educational opportunities for people from Brno, adults as well as children.

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