My name is Andrew Dundas. I am an exchange student with Rotary International, an organization dedicated to making global ties and fostering change through service to one’s community and world. As an exchange student, I am an ambassador for my country and my generation. Rotary sponsors our journeys in the hopes that our minds will broaden and that we will broaden the minds of the people we meet. Already, my peers have departed for India, Japan, Brazil, Finland, and everywhere in between. My destination is Slovakia.

Slovakia is not particularly well known among European countries. So it isn’t a surprise that I didn’t have much knowledge of it, even when the nation was assigned as my destination. Yet, it is deserving of so much more recognition than it is given. Slovakia sits at the very heart of Europe and seems to encapsulate so much of the continent’s wealth. It didn’t take long for me to realize this fact and I am overjoyed at having the opportunity to learn about a land so unknown to the West.

I intend to explore the history of Slovakia as I interact with its ancestral cities and relics, recording it here in my posts. However, a brief summary of its past is appropriate. The Slovak Republic has only been in its current state since 1993, when it split alongside the Czech Republic from their former union of Czechoslovakia. Just a few years prior both nations had won their freedom from the Soviet Union. This followed decades of rule from its communist ‘liberators’, who laid their claim when ousting Nazi oppression at the end of WWII. Before the Soviet Union, the Slovak people only existed as a part of greater entities: Czechoslovakia during the Interwar period; the Kingdom of Hungary and Austro-Hungarian Empire for nearly a thousand years before that; the short lived state of Moravia; and, earliest, the first Slavic settlements in the 5th century. I am fascinated by this tumultuous history and I look forward to exploring it in greater detail through the experience this exchange will grant me!