Credit: Multicultural Centre Brusinka

Brusinka Multicultural Centre: A Welcoming Meeting Environment For Brno Expats

The Brusinka multicultural centre was founded in August 2020 through the efforts of Viktoria Netíková, a specialist in linguistics and multicultural communication. Years have passed since its foundation, and Brusinka is still, more than ever, a lively meeting point for the Brno international community.

Driven by the belief that NGOs can fill gaps where state support might fall short, Netíková and her co-founders set out to offer diverse activities and educational opportunities for both adults and children in Brno.

The centre operates: 

  • a language department offering a wide range of classes and services
  • translation, proofreading and interpretation services.
  • a creative department that provides music, art and drama education in Czech, English and Russian
  • a  leisure department with different activities, encouraging people to spend more time exploring the Czech Republic and building cultural ties.
  • a cooperation department, which focuses on ties with other international organisations 

The centre also offers psychological and logopaedic services, as well as free support for elderly people who might experience issues with the digital divide.

The centre’s managers, including Netíková and her colleague Mariia Svyrydova, HR coordinator, consider the centre’s main strength to be its flexible approach to individual cases. Outside of the standard list of services provided, anyone with a specific need might also find personal tailored assistance at Brusinka.

This is particularly true for the centre’s youngest visitors, as Netíková explained that many Czech parents appreciate the centre’s approach, and the support offered for individual talents, and encourage their children to join the centre’s activities.

Around 500 people registered for Brusinka’s courses during the last year, of which almost half were children. But the reach of the centre is far wider, through the organisation of hikes, workshops and concerts open to the whole community.

Another strength of the centre is the involvement of locals themselves, both as workers or volunteers and as participants in the centre activities. Netíková explained that direct involvement is the main way the local community can appreciate the expats’ contribution to the city’s social life, and even understand their own culture more through contact with others.

Brno’s multicultural society makes centres of this kind essential, not least for the international student community. The MUNI Faculties of Medicine and Education, with their high number of foreign students, have established partnerships with Brusinka.

This was also stressed by Svyrydova, who focuses on the consultancy aspects for companies and is a PhD student at the Faculty of Social Sciences, attempting to apply theories in the field of migration and social policy studies into practice.

The importance of the centre’s work became more noticeable after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the arrival of many Ukrainian refugees in Brno.

Netíková said the centre’s activities helped the locals to understand the newcomers, following initial suspicions due to the fact that many Ukrainians are bilingual and use Russian as their everyday language. The centre’s support for Ukrainians was highly effective, as the centre holds a large amount of material in Russian, including books that found a new home at the centre after the closure of local Russian cultural institutes.

The centre stresses its association with European Union values, as a member of the European Union cultural centres (ENCC) in close contact with other similar institutions, especially in Slovakia, Poland, and Germany. According to Svyrydova and Netíková, cooperation with international partners is essential to picking up best practice and applying it, as well as being of utmost importance for a centre that works with the international community.

However, cooperation with local companies can also generate great benefits through cooperation, such as when the centre was able to collect 100 used laptops to help people that couldn’t afford them.

For its activities, the centre won the award for “Best Practice in Citizen Participation” last year, at the 17th International Observatory on Participatory Democracy (IOPD) Awards.

You can follow the centre’s activities on their blog here. This year a podcast about the centre was published in Czech and English.

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