On May 16, 2018, the IRC, the Czech & Slovak Club, and the World Trade Center of Kansas City will sponsor a lunch program to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Pittsburgh Agreement. Many of you may not realize that this agreement, which came to fruition in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, led to the establishment of an independent Czechoslovak state (Czechoslovakia) after the First World War. I hope many people can attend the program. I think it will be attractive to people interested in doing business in central Europe, people interested in history (especially World War I), and people with links to the Czech and Slovak heritages.

This event has special meaning to me because of my maternal grandmother’s immigration story. She arrived in the U.S. before the start of World War I from the Moravian region of the then Austro-Hungarian Empire. She was a teenager and came to this country to bring her young niece to America at the request of her aunt and uncle, who came to the U.S. not long before. They came to America for the opportunities here and probably to escape the oppression of the Austrian Habsburgs. Grandmother intended to return to her homeland, but before she could leave, World War I broke out and she was prohibited from returning during the war. She met her future (Czech) husband in Nebraska, and they married in 1919.

By that time, the homeland she knew was undergoing significant changes, World War I ended, the Austro-Hungarian Empire was collapsing, and the Pittsburgh Agreement was signed. Her Moravian home became part of the newly formed Czechoslovakia. She would surely have been proud to return to Czechoslovakia and reconnect with her family. It was not meant to be. My grandmother never returned. Her family in America and those she left behind in Moravia reunited when I made my first visit to Czechoslovakia in 1994 and met my family, my grandmother’s direct descendants. It was the start of one of the most meaningful experiences in my life and is the source of great pride and joy. I have many relatives in the Czech Republic, and I treasure those relationships.

I hope to see you at the lunch program or the business roundtable that follows.


About the Author
Sharon K. Valasek is the Honorary Consul of the Czech Republic in Kansas and Missouri.