'Rich is Wonderful,' Yan Bielek Destroys Socialism
Published: Thursday, November 10, 2011
Updated: Friday, November 11, 2011 12:11
On November 9, 1989, the majority of Providence College students were but mere twinkles in their parents' eyes, and the world was changed forever with the opening of the Berlin Wall. The Providence College chapter of College Republicans sought to educate the student body about the horrors of communism in a series of events dubbed, "Freedom Week."
Freedom Week kicked off on Monday, Nov. 7, with a viewing of Miracle in McPhail's.
On Tuesday, the College Republicans co-sponsored an event with PC Democrats and BOP called, "Party in the USA." The College Republicans ran a mock primary, with candidate Mitt Romney winning with 47% of the vote.
On Wednesday, Nov. 9, students spray-painted and tore down a mock Berlin Wall. That evening, the College Republicans hosted Yan Bielek, in an event called "The Communism Dinner Party."
Bielek is a former Czechoslovakian who has experienced Socialism first-hand. He authored a book titled Just Don't Turn Around about his escape from socialism. Bielek presented his life story of how he daringly escaped the Czechoslovakian Socialist Republic while it was under communist regime.
The group gathered alongside two tables filled with food; one labeled "Communism" and the other "Capitalism." The former was filled with equally portioned plates of white bread, while the latter was of wings, ribs, and fries free for taking. The food was used as an analogy to warn students of the harshness of socialism.
Bielek was born in what is now Slovakia in 1951, a time when socialism exploded in the country after World War II. He recollected how his parents taught him a muted lifestyle, which if deviated from, would result in abduction during the night. The government advocated for its socialism, claiming it was the "most democratic" in the world, had "freedom of speech," "freedom of religion," and subsidized housing, college tuition, and medical bills, among many other lies. These claims, his father claimed, were "double faced" as the real truths of his country were the opposite. Bielek says that there was only freedom of speech, "if you spoke in favor of Socialism" and no religion was allowed at all. The pay was on average $75 per month for workers, which would not change for the rest of a person's life. This left many citizens without proper funding for retirement, including Beliek's own grandparents, who needed to be funded by his father.
As a boy, he said he always felt "out of place" and upon hearing contact from the outside world, he knew he had to leave. The Czechoslovakian Socialist Republic was surrounded by high-voltage wires and blocked all incoming radio frequencies, acting more as a prison than a country. Yan Bielek grew a liking to radio technologies and was able to get past the country-wide radio jam and hear the free world.
Upon hearing this, he slowly worked his way to escaping the country. He studied English, but it was seen as suspicious by the secret police. He was one of three students in his school to study the language. When questioned why he was studying the language, Bielek was crafty in his responses, knowing not to give the true reason for his studies. Eventually, he attained certification by the government stating he was an official translator; a tool he knew would allow him to survive in America.
He wanted to escape with his entire family, but was worried. The government would take one child as collateral to ensure its citizens would come back and also threatened a 15-year jail sentence for those illegally escaping. Bielek cleverly fabricated a plan to take a "vacation" with his family, so as to not raise suspicion, and escape there. He made it to America and with no qualifications or history, he was able to secure a job in chemistry within 40 days.
The President of the College Republicans, Shayna Kaufmann, said that, "it's very important for people in our generation to know what it's like for people that still live in communist areas of the world. We are the last generation to meet these people and learn on how how dangerous it can be and how is like."
He warns that "all we learn about communism is from textbooks and it's so much more than that."