First after I got enrolled at university I started to perceive the Roma culture a little differently. In the socialist era Roma identity was suppressed. There was no room for development of Roma identity, not speaking of music, dance, singing and traditions. We all we Slovaks, we were all of Slovak ethnicity and we were all supposed to be proper socialist citizens. No room for calling oneself a Roma. Being a Gypsy meant something but it inherently brought upon prejudices. Among my peers at university many found it difficult to express their identity, even at the Department of Roma Culture. I believe the department director, Dr. Seman showed us the positive aspects of Roma identity. We started to feel more Roma, even though many of us didn't speak the language. Those who didn't stated to study it. Now I dare to say that after a few years I started to be proud of being Roma.
Since I was a teacher with a degree I received a professional offer – to teach the preparation (nulth grade) at elementary school. I saw it as a big opportunity back then because it was something I had only studied at university. After my graduation I didn't have any opportunity to get some experience and now all of sudden I could teach Roma children in the preparation year. I went on teaching Roma children at elementary school later on. Honestly this was one of the most biggest education challenges. Since the children were Roma none of them had pre-elementary education. It was very difficult and painful time I have to say.
When I started to go to school my parents were very encouraging. I have two more siblings. Even though we knew we were Gypsies, in that time the term Gypsy was widely used, my grandparents held a little bit higher social status. I even believe they held higher status than many non-Romas because my grandmother was a secretary at a local office and my grandfather was a farm animals businessman, in that time, a well-respected profession. My grandmother completed secondary education. She prompted her children, i.e. my father, to pursue education.
One has to be steadfast and patient, it’s not possible to achieve everything at once.
PhD. Stanislav Cina was born on 19th April 1972 to a Roma family in Stropkov. His grandparents were active in state and municipal institutions during the socialist era, which is why they encouraged their children and grand children to pursue education. After completing his primary school where he was a very good student, he went on to continue at Secondary Agricultural School which he also completed with high school-leaving diploma in 1990. After a failed attempt to get to Slovak University of Agriculture in Nitra he went to study elementary education at Department of Roma culture at Constantine The Philosopher University in Nitra. It was historically the first academic year of this study programme at an academic institute. He graduated in 1994 with Master degree. After graduation he worked in the department for two years, however, he moved back to Stropkov for personal reasons in 1996. In the same year he started to work in The Centre for Leisure Activities in Stropkov as an education assistant and later as a teacher of pre-elementary education class. In 2004 he joined state administration, initially as a regional consultant at The Fund for Social Development. In 2006 he became employed by The Office of Plenipotentiary for Roma Communities at the Office of the Government of the Slovak Republic.
He has still been active in academic environment - he lectured at Constantine The Philosopher University in Nitra, Prešov University in Prešov, St. Elisabeth’s Medical and Social Work School in Prešov as well as in The Center for Teachers’s Education. He is author and co-author of a number of lecture books, Slovak-Roma dictionary and of many academic articles. His specialization is education and Roma language. He received his PaedDr. degree in 2007 from University of Matej Bel and PhD in 2015 from St. Elisabeth’s Medical and Social Work School.
He is married and has two children.