Under communism learning Russian as a foreign language was mandatory in school
Because the borders we closed, we didn’t aspire to learn different languages. What was the point, if we could never apply them? When the revolution happened, many of us tried our best to learn English. But, when you don’t learn a language from a young age, it is very hard to catch-up.
Not being able to communicate in English fluidly can be a professional handicap
Of course, the new generation is much better positioned. They are multilingual from the start, because of travel, but also the internet.
Living as a Slovak abroad I always felt like an outsider
Although I enjoyed my international exchanges, I always felt best at home. Of course, many Slovaks chose to immigrate and when they lay down their roots in a foreign land and set up their companies, they can help with Slovakia’s global integration.
Because people are moving around, we can see that Europe is starting to cooperate a lot better
There is also a change in opportunity structure. In the past, you had to be German if you wanted to be the chief designer for Volkswagen. Today you can be Turkish. What matters is merit, not ethnicity.
Confrontation is critical to growth
Every great idea develops from resilience but also through contrast and comparison. You need international exposure to see if what you are doing has any relevance.
Mirrors are necessary, how else will you know if you are competitive?
Those that gain this exposure can help to trans- fer this cutting-edge knowledge back into Slovakia. Returning Slovaks help the rest of us augment our know-how.
Genetically speaking, Slovaks are very creative
I am always amazed at the talent, skill and creativity of my design students. I can attest that they are of world class quality and can excel professionally in any country. But what I notice we are missing, is infrastructure, mentorship and vision.
Slovaks that are abroad are very important to our national development
There are a lot of opportunities in Slovakia and Slovaks abroad are starting to take notice. Perhaps, it’s a natural transition. Maybe after working for 5 years as a designer in Switzerland, they are looking around for a new challenge. Slovakia could be the next step forward for many of them.
Sometimes things take time
I created the flying-car over 20 years ago when I was still a university student. I would write the ministry telling them about my concept and asking for support. I had so many ideas that I wanted to make happen, from golf carts to trains, to cars and of course, air planes.
Back then, society wasn’t ready for my ideas
But, I never gave up on my dream. Every day I follow my passion and I continue designing and building new creations. Even when challenges arise, I believe that I can get through them.
I am now building my second flying-car
As an inventor, you often stand alone, which is why you have to believe in yourself. When it comes to materializing your dreams, you have to accept that there will be many ups and downs. But, with hard work and perseverance –
You can make anything happen