Opinion | Thank You, George Soros

To the Editor:

Re “A Democratic Institution Is Forced Out of Hungary” (news article, Oct. 26):

In the early 1990s my husband and I taught at the Prague campus of the Central European University, founded by the philanthropist George Soros. Our class, called “Civic Education,” was intended to inform students about the system of voting, how honest policing works and some of the benefits of a democratic state.

After the separation of the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993, we taught similar courses in Slovakia, Estonia and Lithuania, as the Soviet control of those places retreated. These were again funded by Mr. Soros.

Many students in Prague proudly told us of shaking their keys in Wenceslas Square as part of the Velvet Revolution, which drove the Communists from power. In Estonia, citizens marched in the park with signs saying “Russians, go home.”

On all campuses, these young people were optimistic about a better future, and eager to learn about a world that had been pretty much shut off from them under Russian influence.

The new knowledge was a life-changing experience. In one winter session, during a snowfall, students stamped out “Thank you, teachers” in the snow.

Mr. Soros was a real factor in the lives of these students, who must now be in their 40s and 50s. He remains a hero for those of us who value education and who believe that all youth is entitled to it.

Gloria Neumeier
Kentfield, Calif.

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