Juraj Vaščik

Welcome to The Great War: The First World War in Europe. I enjoy teaching this course in the traditional classroom format, where I get to meet and interact with students. I did not initially think that I would enjoy teaching in the online environment, but have found that it exciting in whole different ways and that I in fact get to learn my students BETTER. I look forward to a stimulating semester working with each of you.

In the centenary year of the outbreak of the Great War, we will benefit from heightened public interest world-wide in the events of 1914-1918. For myself, the study of the Great War is an act of filial piety. The First War was my grandfather’s war. Juraj Vaščik emigrated from the hills of northwestern Slovakia in 1910 and “went West” like many new Americans seeking fortune and adventure. He worked as a security guard for Colorado silver mines and in 1916 enlisted in the U.S. Army to participate in the expedition against Pancho Villa. He served as a medic with the 1st Division and saw action in France before being mustered out of the army in 1922 at the Presidio in San Francisco. If the Army hadn’t been “down-sized”, I might not be here. Grandpa might never have moved to the Slovak enclave along the Allegheny and started a family!

I remember making a huge, earthen diorama of German trench works for my 6th grade history project. I was so eager to show it to him. “No, Georgie, it wasn’t like that,” he told me and we deconstructed and then reconstructed the entire diorama as he explained to me lines of fire and communication trenches. He gave me something special that day and I hope to repay him through this class.

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