Saturday, November 16, 2013


Studium Carpato-Ruthenorum 2014

Prešov University in Prešov, Slovakia, announces its fifth annual three-week
Studium Carpato-Ruthenorum International Summer School for Rusyn
Language and Culture to be held from June 15 - July 5, 2014 (applicants
from North America may begin arriving from Saturday, June 14, 2014).
The program is hosted by the university‘s Institute of Rusyn Language
and Culture. Prešov University is the only university in the Slovak Republic
offering a full-time academic program in Rusyn language and literature
accredited for both the B.A and M.A. in Rusyn Language and Literature.

The Studium summer school is intended for those interested in studying
the Rusyn language and the history of the Carpatho-Rusyns, including
high school (18 and over) and college students, as well as Slavists and any
who wish to broaden their knowledge of East Slavic language, history, and
culture. Participants can expect to acquire a familiarity with or strengthen
their competency in the Rusyn language, as well as gain an understanding
of Carpatho-Rusyn history, culture, literature, and ethnography.

The Studium Carpato-Ruthenorum is held on the campus of Prešov
University, at 17th of November Street, #15 (ulica 17. Novembra, č. 15),
with the dormitory, cafeteria, and classroom building all located in close
proximity. Instruction is provided by university professors, distinguished
Slavists, and specialists in Carpatho-Rusyn studies from Slovakia, Ukraine,
the United States, and Canada. The language of instruction, in parallel
courses, is either Rusyn or English. The program offers 20 hours of history
lectures and 20 hours of language instruction. A ten-hour minicourse in
Carpatho-Rusyn ethnography will also be offered in both English and Rusyn
as part of the curriculum. Extra practice sessions outside of the classroom
will help participants strengthen their conversational skills. Participants
who complete the program receive official certificates from the Studium,
and transcripts will be available for students who wish to earn credits for the
program through their home universities.

Carpatho-Rusyn History:
The history lecture series focuses on Carpathian Rus’ and the Carpatho-
Rusyns worldwide from the earliest times to the present. Lecturers include
Professor Paul Robert Magocsi, University of Toronto, and Dr. Valerii Padiak,
Researcher and Publisher, Center for Carpatho-Rusyn Studies, Uzhhorod,

Carpatho-Rusyn Ethnography:
The mini-course in Carpatho-Rusyn ethnography is taught in English by
Associate Professor Patricia Krafcik, The Evergreen State College (Olympia,
Washington) and in Rusyn by Professor Mykola Mušynka, External Faculty in
the Institute for Rusyn Language and Culture, Prešov University, and covers
selected topics in folklore.

Rusyn Language:
The Rusyn language is offered for beginners, for students who have some
knowledge of Russian, Ukrainian, or another Slavic language, and for
native speakers of Rusyn. These classes are intended to help participants
acquire an understanding of the theoretical linguistic aspects of the Rusyn
language, as well as to develop proficiency in the spoken and written
language. Instructors include from Prešov University: Associate Professor
Anna Plišková and Dr. Kvetoslava Koporová.

Extracurricular Activities:
The following activities take place outside of class and include:

– presentations on Rusyn traditions, folklore, and the socio-cultural life
of Carpatho-Rusyns in Slovakia, including a visit to the Svidník Folklore
Festival and Rusyn cultural institutions in Prešov;

– presentations on Rusyn folk architecture and culture, including visits
to museums, skanzens, and wooden churches, and excursions in the
Prešov Region of northeastern Slovakia where Rusyns reside;
– a Rusyn literary evening;

– visits to the Alexander Dukhnovych Theater and film viewings;
– pysankŷ (wax resist egg decorating) and folksong workshops.

Housing and Meals:
Participants are housed in a Prešov University dormitory in standard
2-bed/2-room suites with Internet access for laptop computers and dine in
the university cafeteria. The dormitory provides a communal kitchen with
refrigerator, washing machines, and dryers. Wireless Internet is accessible in
the cafeteria building. Available in the university neighborhood are grocery
stores, a pharmacy, restaurants, Internet cafes, bookstores, and easy access
to city transportation.

Applications and a complete program schedule for the Studium may be
found at and http://www.c-rs.

Applications will be accepted online until March 1, 2014, and should be
sent to the following email address: The online application
process is much preferred, but hard copies may be sent to the following
postal address:

Prešovská univerzita
Ústav rusínskeho jazyka a kultúry
Ul. 17. novembra 15
080 01 Prešov, SLOVAK REPUBLIC

The cost for the three-week session, including tuition, housing, three meals
daily, all excursions, and all museum admissions, is 1200 Euros or $1670.
A non-refundable administrative deposit of 100 Euros or $140.00 is due by
March 1, 2014. This fee will be applied to the total cost, with the remainder
of 1100 Euros or $1530.00 due by May 15, 2014. Participants are responsible
for their own travel costs to and from Prešov.

Some financial aid for undergraduate and graduate students registered in a
college or university may be available on a needs basis. Please address any
requests for financial aid to Assoc. Prof. Anna Plišková at:

Prešovská univerzita
Ústav rusínskeho jazyka a kultúry
Ul. 17. novembra 15
080 01 Prešov, SLOVAK REPUBLIC.

Payment by bank check is preferred and is to be sent to the following

Prešovská univerzita
Ms. Katarína Sabolová
Ul. 17. novembra 15
080 01 Prešov

Bank transfers are also possible to:

Current Account: Prešovská univerzita Prešov
Account Number: 7000066503/8180
IBAN: SK15 8180 0000 0070 0006 6503
Bank Name: Štátna pokladnica
Bank Address: Radlinského 32,
810 05 Bratislava 15,
Slovak Republic
Variable symbol: 1780

Within Slovakia and Europe, contact Dr. Timea Verešová, (English-speaking)
for information, at, tel.: +421 (51) 7720 392, +421 915 412

Within North America, contact Associate Professor Patricia Krafcik, at

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Former C-RS National President presenting a host of topics at 2013 Czechoslovak Genealogical Society Conference in Chicago

You were one of the top people listed on our 2011 St. Louis Conference evaluation as a Chicago speaker,” Czechoslovak Genealogical Society Chair Paul Makousky wrote to former C-RS National President John Righetti. “So even though you were not in St. Louis, you were on the minds of the attendees.”
A noted speaker on a wide variety of Rusyn and East European topics, John will deliver three presentations when CGSI holds its national conference in Chicago in October 2013.
John’s knowledge is a combination of   “book learning” and life experience.
At the University of Pittsburgh, he earned a certificate in Russian and East European Studies, with an emphasis in Austro-Hungarian history. He also studied Slovak and Ukrainian languages there. Later, he was one of two adult students chosen to study Rusyn folk choreography and culture in Uzhorod, Transcarpathia  in 1983. Living among the Rusyns in Ukraine , he gained a keen sense of culture in everyday life.
That sense only supplemented what he already knew, growing up in a largely Slavic neighborhood in the mid Mon Valley town of Monessen just south of Pittsburgh. Rusyn culture was an everyday part of his existence. His great grandfather had been a church cantor and Rusyn political activist; his great grandmother a folk healer/midwife for Monessen’s Slavic community.
“People have often said to me ‘How did you preserve all this culture?’ My answer ? We didn’t preserve anything. We just lived it,” he said.
John’s presentations at the CGSI conference will present different aspects of Rusyn history and culture. One is titled “Rusyns as the Third Founding People of Czechoslovakia “and enlightens how Rusyns played a key role in Czechoslovakia’s development and the effects being one of its founding peoples had on the Rusyn community there and in the United States.
Another is “Rusyns and Slovaks: Similarities and Differences”. He has delivered this presentation in a number of  major American cities, and to mixed audiences of Rusyns, Slovaks---and even Czechs.
“There is so much confusion among recent generations of Rusyns and Slovaks about their distinctiveness that didn’t exist 100 years ago,” he said. “This presentation helps contemporary Rusyns and Slovaks learn one another’s similarities and differences –and gain an appreciation for each other’s distinctive cultural qualities.
When he delivered this lecture at the National Bohemian Hall in New York City, a retired university professor stood up and exclaimed it was the most thorough and understandable presentation on this topic she ever heard.
The third presentation that will be delivered in Chicago is titled “Carpatho-Rusyn Culture –it’s not just blessed baskets and stuffed cabbages”. Its focus is the fullness and distinctiveness of Rusyn  folk culture , outlining the pagan practices Rusyns adapted to Christianity and continue to this day as well as evolving culture attributes developed as a result of their challenging history.
“Culture is not just the warm things we remember baba (grandma) doing. Carpatho-Rusyn culture is as rich, ancient and meaningful as any other. We need to learn to take our culture seriously as a part of who we are as a community—and who we are as individuals, “John explains. “Whether you realize it or not, your culture, rooted centuries ago, influences every decision you make today . In this session, we’ll explore that.”
So mark your calendars for Sat. Oct. 26, 2013 for Chicago—and explore Rusyn history and culture with John.

 Written by John Righetti.  E-mail

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Carpatho-Rusyns of Poland - the Lemkos


John J. Righetti

From the Madzik Collection:  Hospodari (Farmers)1930s
Many times when people are at Carpatho-Rusyn gatherings in North America, someone will proclaim “Well, I’m a Lemko.” What does that mean?
The Lemkos are the Carpatho-Rusyns who lived in what is today southern Poland, a region known as western Galicia.  They are the same Rusyns as those that lived in Hungary, but they lived first in Poland, which later became the Austrian portion of Austria-Hungary, so their history and influences were a little different from the Rusyns in what is today Slovakia and Ukraine. But their language, music and religion were the same.
The word” Lemko” is a relatively new one, though. Lemkos didn’t call themselves Lemkos until the early 1900s. Before that , they simply called themselves Rusyns or “Rusnaks” just like all the other Carpatho-Rusyns in the Carpathian Region of Eastern Europe (we’ll explore why later).
They were formed, like all other Rusyns, from the merger of the three tribes of White Croats, Vlachs and Rus’ . And the Rus’ tribes that helped make them up came to the northern slopes of the Carpathian Mountains from the 1300s-1500s. They settled the valleys there and built incredible wooden churches. They were very different from their Polish neighbors in speech, appearance and faith-since they spoke an East Slavic language(Polish is West Slavic) they were smaller in build and they were Eastern Christians (Poles being Roman Catholics).
Because they were so different, there was little chance of assimilation or “becoming Polish,” the dominant nationality.
From the Madzik Collection: Vasyl Hbur, Bortne 1932
But because they lived on the northern slopes in what was Poland, not Hungary like the rest of the Rusyns, they developed some distinct cultural traits. For instance, Lemkos did have a church choral tradition, and in fact, became noted for their choirs—both in church and in their villages. To this day, there are many Rusyn choirs among the Lemkos in Poland and Lemko immigrants in the North America. Everywhere there were Lemkos, there were folk choirs. Communities like Yonkers, NY, New York City, Toronto ,Canada, and others had well known Lemko folk choirs.
And because they did not assimilate with Poles and the western-influenced culture of the Poles, they kept a stronger tie to the East. Saints which played a key role in Lemko life included Paraskeva, Dimitri, Panteleimon, Barbara, Cosmas & Damian. This is reflected in the names of their churches and the names of their children. Even in America, these saints can be seen often on the icon screen, on the walls or in the stained glass windows of churches founded by Lemkos.
In 1772, Poland was dismantled by three European powers and disappeared from the world map until 1918. The region the Lemkos lived in, Galicia, became a part of Austria. By the mid-1850s, Austria was one of the great world powers. On its border was another world power—Russia. And where Russia met Austria was in Galicia. By the late 1800s, Russia had decided it wanted to expand into Europe and the most logical place to do it was Galicia. Russia’s plan was to convince the Rusyns they were “Russians from the Carpathians.” They believed that if they were successful, they could invade Austria, saying they were liberating their “own people.”
Russia began to operate Russian reading rooms in Lemko Rusyn villages where literature could be placed and teachers brought in to teach the Rusyns about their true “Russian” heritage. Austria decided to counter this by backing the new Ukrainian movement out of L’viv. With Austrian government support, Ukrainian reading rooms were opened in the Lemko region to convince the Rusyns that they were not Russians, but “Ukrainians.” This “battle for the Rusyn soul” even came across the ocean to America, where Lemko communities were split into “Russian” and ”Ukrainian “ communities and churches. But the Lemko peasants were neither –they were Carpatho-Rusyns.
In 1914, Austria opened a concentration camp in a town called Talerhof in Austria and the Austrian government began to imprison there any Lemko Rusyns who advocated for a Russian or a Rusyn nationality. The purpose of the concentration camp was to take away any teachers, leaders or priests who the Austrians thought could be an enemy of Austria – anybody teaching the people that they were of Rusyn or Russian background. About 14,000 were imprisoned in Talerhof and about 4,000 died or were executed there. The Carpatho-Rusyn Lemkos were therefore in a concentration camp  more than 20 years before Adolf Hitler and the Nazis placed anybody in a concentration camp during World War II!
Because of the great trouble among the Rusyns about whether they were Russian or Ukrainian, a new neutral term came into being –Lemko. It didn’t necessarily favor one orientation or another ; in fact if sort of inferred that Lemkos were a distinct people. Where did this word come from?
Believe it or not, the Carpatho-Rusyns in southern Poland were the only people in that area that used the word “lem” for “only.” The Slovaks, Poles and Ukrainians did not have this word. And so it was used as a root to describe these people –the ones who say ’lem’.
After World War II, the Communist Polish government decided that it wanted its minority groups out of Poland. In 1946, it moved many Lemkos voluntarily to Soviet Ukraine, but the Lemkos who refused to leave their Carpathian homeland were forcibly resettled in 1947 in a n event called the Vistula Action. The Lemko Rusyns were told to sell their things and pack what they could. They were not told what was happening. They were then taken to cattle cars and moved to Ukraine or small former German villages in western Poland. The goal was to denationalize the Lemko Rusyns by scattering them among other peoples.
The Lemko Rusyns are a resilient people though. They began to get together in Poland at events called “Vatra,” which means bonfire. They would travel great distances and reunite at these events, and used this to revive their culture in Poland. They were enormously successful. Today, there are Lemko Rusyn cultural organizations, dance groups, writers, publications, radio, and Lemko Rusyn language taught in elementary schools and at the university level.  About 10,000 Lemkos have returned to their homeland in the Carpathians of southern Poland. The Polish government recognizes the Lemko Rusyns as a distinct ethnic group different from Russians and Ukrainians. And in the last 10 years, the number of people who identify as Lemkos in Poland has increased  from 6,000 to 10,000!
In America, the Lemkos were very active in keeping their culture alive. In the1920s the Lemko Association was founded in America and grew into a national organization. It created the Carpatho-Russian American Center in Yonkers ,NY and  retreat grounds in New York as well. Lemkos ran a Rusyn language radio program back in the 1930s and many Lemko records were made for immigrants to listen to. In just the last few years, The Lemko Association has been revived in the U.S.
Lemko Rusyns have certainly left their mark on America. The actress Sandra Dee and the jazz composer Bill Evans were both Lemkos. And the wedding scenes in the movie “The Deerhunter” were filmed at the Lemko Hall in Cleveland and St. Theodosius Orthodox Cathedral, a church founded heavily by Lemkos.
But because of the nationality confusion created intentionally by Russia and Austria, there are many Lemko Rusyns in America today who still think of themselves as Russians or Ukrainians.
 Despite the most challenging of circumstances, the Lemko Rusyns have survived until this day and are continually reviving their precious Carpatho-Rusyn culture.

Copyright  John Righetti, 2013
Map: Courtesy of the Lemko Association

Friday, March 8, 2013


Bonnie Balas teaching the art of decorating eggs (pysanky)
During the holy season of Great Lent, a common tradition practiced by Carpatho- Rusyns in the homeland and in America is the preparation of pysanky.  The egg, itself, a symbol of life, is relative to the feast of the Resurrection, the climax of the Lenten season.  Prepared in a prayerful manner throughout Lent, these eggs are exchanged with friends and family during the three days of the Resurrection Feast.
Although many cultures decorated eggs as a unique art form, the types of pysanky made by Rusyns are  diverse.  There is not one particular style  or design.  Each style or design depends on region, landscape or village.  The pysanky give an artistic view of life, superstitions, environment, religion, and beliefs of the Carpatho-Rusyns from primitive times to the present day.
There are four main types of pysanky common to Rusyns.  These are line-drawing, scratch, bead, and drop-pull (teardrop).  The method for drop-pull and line-drawing are primarily the same – wax resist (layers of wax are applied while going through a dyeing process), whereas, bead and scratch eggs use other materials and methods.
The drop-pull (teardrop) type is common in the Lemko region (Poland), eastern Slovakia, and westernmost parts of Subcarpathian Rus’.  In this method a pin or nail head in a small staff is used to make designs by pulling a drop of wax on the surface of the egg. A variety of designs including swirls, starbursts, animals, plants, and even people are creatively formed with a small teardrop strokes.  Most often the egg  is dyed and wax removed,  but in some cases the wax designs are left on the egg.
In the heart of Subcarpathian Rus’ more detailed pysanky are prepared which have lines forming the designs.  The designs and symbols have meaning which are incorporated into the “message” that the artist wishes to convey.  This method requires a tool called a kistka, filled with beeswax that has been melted over a candle.  Then the melted wax is applied to the egg through the small funnel-shaped tip of the kistka.  The designs become more intricate going farther east in the Carpathian mountains.  There are endless designs/symbols which have meaning, for example, triangles signify the trinity or fishnets, horses mean strength or prosperity, and the sun represents life.  Patterns and colors change moving through the Carpathian mountain region.  There is also a variety of images and motifs from region to region.   Floral designs and a wide  variety of colors are predominant in western regions.  Geometric patterns, mainly used in eastern areas have color schemes of yellow, orange, red, green, brown, and black (from light to dark colors) in the dyeing process as each layer of wax is added to make the designs more intricate.
The scratch style eggs found mainly in Sharish, Spish, and some areas of Poland are done on an egg that has been dyed one solid color.  The artist uses a sharp tool such as a razor blade or sharp pin to scratch off the color, creating the design.  The motifs can be floral, geometric, or scenes of Rusyn village life.
One of the most unique forms of pysanky, the bead style, can be found amongst Rusyns in western Ukraine and northern Romania.  These are done by completely covering the egg in a thick layer of wax.  Then small colorful beads are carefully pressed into the wax, creating intricate designs such as crosses and geometric patterns.
These beautifully crafted jewels used to adorn a traditional Rusyn pascha basket enhance our celebration of the Feast of Feasts – the Resurrection.  We say, with our hearts and voices, “CHRISTOS VOSKRESE!  VOISTINNU VOSKRESE!”   “CHRIST IS RISEN!  INDEED HE IS RISEN!”
For more information about pysanky events see EVENTS SECTION-8th EGG EggSTRAVAGANZA
Bonnie Balas is a noted Carpatho-Rusyn pysanky artist who teaches pysanky classes each year during Great Lent at St. John the Baptist Byzantine Catholic Church, Uniontown.

Written by:  Bonnie Balas

Thursday, February 21, 2013

International Summer School of Rusyn Language and Culture... Continued

A typical morning at the Studium begins with breakfast offered usually in a simple buffet style (places are set and breakfast items are provided family style) from 7:30 to 9 in the cafeteria across from the dorm. Participants then go off to morning class which begins at 9. In weeks one and three, the first class session from Monday through Friday will be the history lectures offered by Professor Paul Robert Magocsi in English and by Valerii Padiak in Rusyn. After lunch in weeks one and three, beginning Rusyn-language students will have class with Halina Malecka, a Rusyn-language instructor from Poland. In week three, beginning language students will have their language class in the morning, and then will attend my folklore lectures in the afternoon.

Instructors at the Studium are all truly devoted to working closely with you in broadening and deepening your understanding of Rusyn language, history, and culture. Our first blog post introduced the instructors briefly, but here is a bit more about them:

Prof. Paul Magocsi and Prof. Emeritus Mykola Mushynka
Professor Magocsi is the world’s leading expert on Carpatho-Rusyn history. He is the holder of the Chair of Ukrainian Studies at the University of Toronto where he has created the most complete library of Carpatho-Rusyn-related scholarship and other materials in the world—a literal treasure-trove for scholars. He is a widely recognized and respected researcher, writer, and teacher, enormously energetic, sharp in terms of his critical thinking. When attending Professor Magocsi’s lectures, be ready to take voluminous notes! His lectures will introduce you to the history of Carpatho-Rusyns from their beginnings to the present day. His style is to present his lecture and only then to set aside 30-45 minutes for questions and answers. This lets him cover efficiently what he wants to convey, and then he is open to whatever questions might have arisen during the course of the lecture. Those Q&A sessions, by the way, are just as exciting and informative as the lectures. You will definitely acquire a keen understanding of where our people came from and what forces shaped them through the centuries, and you’ll be able to share your new and tremendous body of knowledge with your family and community.

Valerie Padiak and Patricia Krafcik
Valerii Padiak is a bright and enthusiastic scholar from Uzhhorod, Transcarpathia—just over the border from Slovakia in Ukraine. Like Professor Magocsi, he has been teaching at the Studium since its founding in 2009. He has also been teaching at the Institute of Rusyn Language and Culture at the University of Prešov. Padiak is steeped in the history and culture of Carpatho-Rusyns originating in Transcarpathia. He is a walking encyclopedia! Among other things, he is a publisher of books on Carpatho-Rusyns, a calling in which he has been involved for many years. He has worked hard developing educational opportunities for Rusyn kids in Transcarpathia, as well, and he has helped Studium participants in the past three years get in contact with their Rusyn roots in Transcarpathia. Padiak strongly encourages the American participants in the Studium to practice their Rusyn, and in his warm and animated way he is happy to encourage even simple conversations over meals in the cafeteria. He will be in charge of the last fieldtrip in the program which will take us to historic Uzhhorod for a day.

Dr. Kveta Koporova teaches the intermediate/advanced Rusyn-language class. A serious scholar of language in her own right, she is the first doctoral candidate at the University of Prešov to produce a dissertation about the Rusyn language in the Rusyn language. Why is this important? Because in using the Rusyn language to express highly technical and sophisticated ideas, she has demonstrated that the language is indeed capable of vast and varied expression. In her language class, she works with participants who already speak Rusyn, usually having acquired their language in the home environment, and also with those who have had experience with other East Slavic languages such as Russian and Ukrainian. Koporova is a warm and hard-working scholar and instructor. She is, by the way, studying English on her own and will be happy to try a bit of English with you, I’m sure, next summer.

Halina Malecka is known among Americans of Carpatho-Rusyn background because she has been to the U.S. to lead workshops in Rusyn language and culture and also because she has welcomed tour groups to the Lemko Region in Poland where she has also introduced visitors to the language and culture. Experienced as an instructor in Poland, as well, Malecka will patiently guide beginners in the language so that you leave the Studium after three weeks able to carry on very simple conversations. Like other teachers of Slavic languages, Malecka is aware that such complex languages cannot be taught in three weeks, but she provides an enjoyable introduction which can encourage students to continue on their own.

Mykola Mushynka, a professor emeritus at Prešov University will offer folklore lectures in Rusyn. He is a truly unique personality who lived through the difficult era of Communist Czechoslovakia and suffered personal and professional setbacks during those years. Hailing from the village of Kurov in the Prešov Region, he himself grew up completely immersed in and actively practicing all the folklore traditions about which he has written and taught. He speaks Ukrainian and Russian perfectly, as well, but not English. I know, however, that he would be happy to meet the American participants and to talk with you—and there are usually folks who can help with interpretation on the spot. Professor Mushynka is in many ways larger than life. His warmth is palpable and his twinkling blue eyes match his sense of humor. He will be our guide when we attend an authentic Rusyn wedding in his native village of Kurov. He himself has participated as the starosta (best man/leader of the wedding traditions) in several such weddings, and he knows these traditions inside and out. This event is not to be missed.

Anna Plishkova
Dr. Anna Plishkova is the organizer of the Studium and the head of the Institute of Rusyn Language and Culture at the University of Prešov. Her calm and collected personality belies the very dedicated hard worker within—the one whose strong and persistent efforts helped lead to the establishment of the Institute. She will open and close the Studium session and will be working behind the scenes to insure that all runs smoothly. She is also the liaison between the Studium and the university administration, an important role in which she serves to garner strategic support for the Institute and the Studium. Dr. Plishkova also completed her dissertation a few years ago on the Rusyn language written in Rusyn and defended the dissertation in Bratislava, Slovakia’s capital. She has written widely on the language, including a book available from the Carpatho-Rusyn Research Center translated into English and entitled Language and National Identity: Rusyns South of the Carpathians (East European Monographs, Columbia University Press, 2009). Along with one of Professor Magocsi’s many books, The People From Nowhere, Professor Plishkova’s book is well worth reading if you are interested in Carpatho-Rusyn history and culture.

Finally, in week two of this summer’s Studium, I (Pat Krafcik) will give the afternoon lectures on selected topics in Carpatho-Rusyn folklore in English. I am an Associate Professor of Russian Language and Literature at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. I participated with Professor Magocsi in founding the Carpatho-Rusyn Research Center in 1978 and was the editor for most of the years of our publication of the Carpatho-Rusyn American Newsletter (1978-98). I have nurtured a passion for Slavic folklore for some decades now and offered lectures in selected topics in Rusyn folklore at the second and third sessions of the Studium. This coming summer I will offer a full week of lectures in English. I was pleasantly surprised last summer that not only did the American participants attend my lectures, but also the German and Czech fellows were there, as well as a handful of young Carpatho-Rusyn women students from the Rusyn Institute and one young woman who teaches at the Greek Catholic Theological Faculty in the University of Prešov. They came to practice their English comprehension. My lectures are more like talks in which I invite participation from the students so that our sessions turn out to resemble a discussion over coffee—but they are serious and full of information at the same time. Participant contributions enrich what I have to contribute. The learning works both ways, and I appreciate this.

There are others connected with the work of the Institute of Rusyn Language and Culture and who will be present at the opening and closing ceremonies. Among them, Timea Veres, who speaks excellent English, will be a helpful liaison between participants and the Institute people. She is a fine scholar in her own right, and is a lovely individual who is willing to go the extra mile to help participants feel at home.  In addition, Slavo Hyriak, although not officially connected with the Institute, is on board to provide some additional help now and then. His father was an important folklorist during Communist Czechslovak times, and Slavo strongly supports Carpatho-Rusyn language and culture in all aspects. He has spent time living in North America and speaks excellent English, as well, and will often serve as an interpreter.

We all hope to see you at the Studium this summer for three weeks of significant learning and unforgettable experiences. The deadline for applying is March 1, 2013, and applications and more information are available at the Carpatho-Rusyn Society website. Feel free to contact me, as well, at 

Sunday, January 20, 2013


Dear Friends,

The C-RS is soliciting nominations for officers and trustees for three-year terms beginning after elections in 2013.  Candidates should meet the criteria listed below.  Voting and paying dues are the two most effective methods the membership has for affecting the direction taken by its leadership.  It is important that you give serious consideration to members whom you believe can make positive contributions to running our Board of Directors.  

Whether you are content with the current direction of our organization or would like to see new approaches attempted, this nomination process is of the utmost importance.  

Please note that nominations must be received not later than February 2, 2013.  They may be submitted electronically or via the postal system but must be received by that date.  Information on our by-laws and articles of incorporation may be found at or by contacting the Nominating Committee.

Following are the requirements set out by the Nominating Committee.    

Dear Carpatho-Rusyn Society Member,

The Nominating Committee is currently seeking names of those members in good standing who you feel should lead our organization as a member of the National Board of Directors. When nominating a candidate, please include 3-4 sentences on what strengths the person brings to the position. Self nominations are welcome. All nominated persons will be contacted by the committee regarding their interest in being placed on the ballot.

The committee must receive nominations by: Saturday, February 2, 2013, 11:59 PM.
Nominations may be submitted to committee chair Christy Slifkey
via email at: (preferred),
via phone: 703.968.8192
or via postal mail to:
C-RS Attn: Nominations
915 Dickson St
Munhall PA 15120-1929.
(Please account for delivery time when submitting through postal mail, so it is received by the deadline.)

Items to consider, when nominating a member for a position on the Board, are that Directors must:
(1) be familiar and comply with the articles of incorporation, by-laws, policies and procedures of C-RS,
(2) fulfill their fiduciary duties to the organization,
(3) participate in fundraising for the organization,
(4) attend monthly board meetings

(5) actively participate in committees, and

(6) have internet access and be comfortable communicating via email and teleconference

The Board of Director positions we are seeking nominations for are:

President:  Chief executive of the organization having general day-to-day management duties; facilitates Board meetings and oversees committees.

Vice-President: Exercises the powers and duties of the President when called on to do so.

Recording Secretary: Takes official minutes of all meetings; maintains all corporate documents including meeting minutes, records and reports; provide notices and documentation as required by the by-laws or the Board.

Chief Financial Officer: Generates and maintains financial records; oversees budgeting, accounting, and investments; pays bills and invoices; responsible for filing taxes; custodian of contracts and business records.

Chief Financial Administrator: Deposits financial vehicles and non-financial valuable effects of the organization; maintains depository records; reports regularly to the board.

Chief Information Officer:  Oversees electronic membership records; supervises general mailings; helps the organization with its information technology needs.

Trustee (six positions):  Actively participate in day-to-day business of C-RS through fundraising and actively serving on board committees; audit the financial books annually.

Please contact me for further details or with any questions, at: or 703.968.8192.

Warm Regards,

Christy Slifkey
Nominations Committee Chair

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

International Summer School of Rusyn Language and Culture

If you are considering participating in the Studium Carpato-Ruthenorum International Summer School for Rusyn Language and Culture, you might be wondering what it’s like to live in Presov, in the dorm. What is the food like? What are the history and folklore sessions like and the language class? –First, here are some descriptions of the living situation. In another installment you’ll hear about the classes and faculty.

Prešov is a small but bustling city—a lovely place to spend a few weeks. It resembles other small cities and towns in Central Europe with its large main central “square” on which are located some significant and beautiful historical buildings and stores, lots of flowers, and people heading on their way to work, shopping, or strolling just for fun. An initial walking tour with Studium guides will immediately show you that there is much to explore on your own time and also that it’s not difficult or complicated to find your way around.

The main street which runs through this central square is called Hlavná ulica or, literally,  “Main Street.” Just off Hlavná ulica is a picturesque side street called Florian ulica. Here you will find some coffee shops where you can sit either inside or outside and enjoy a fragrant coffee or an icy beer, relax, enjoy the company of new friends, and people-watch. And there is nothing as refreshing as the unforgettable ice cream in the “Croatia” ice cream shop on Florian (and found elsewhere in town) with its large window open onto the street and serving a variety of scrumptious flavors. You will always find a line of patrons there! The fruit ice creams or various chocolate varieties are among the more amazingly vibrant tastes you’ll ever experience. I’m serious about this—really! You’ll definitely need to visit this shop more than once. The walk back to the dorm from Hlavná ulica takes about 10 minutes or 15 at a more relaxed pace. The more walking you do, the more ice cream you can justifiably enjoy.

Also located on the main square area is a TESCO department store. Its lower level is reserved for grocery shopping, and Slovakia offers everything you could want in terms of food and drink there and in other grocery stores. The TESCO sell all kinds of goods, including clothes and souvenirs. Studium guides can also direct you to a bus that stops in front of the dorm (they’ll teach you how to buy a ticket from the vending machine by the bus stop—very easy) and this bus takes you within a few minutes to another newer and larger TESCO. The Prešov mall, also accessible by bus, is completely modern and offers a chance for even more serious shopping of all kinds.

One of the views from the dorm down toward the cafes.
See where the open air covers are on the sidewalk across the street from the dorm.
The dorm houses international Studium students on the 11th floor which was renovated just a couple of years ago. Most of the dorms rooms are suites of two “bedrooms” with two beds each, and each suite has a toilet which is in a separate little cubby from the sink and shower. It has been possible for previous participants to ask for a bedroom for one person for a few extra dollars, and this may be the case again. The views from the 11th floor are truly stunning. From one side, for instance, you can see into the distance toward the village of Kapušany, and if you look carefully, you can actually see the ruins of Kapušany castle high up on a craggy hill (For a view of the castle from a hang glider’s perspective, see this Youtube clip: From another side of the dorm, you look down at the swiftly flowing Torysa River which runs through Prešov and offers a walking and running trail for residents and visitors. Wifi is available in the rooms, as are small refrigerators. There are two kitchens with a stove and a smattering of pots, dishes, and mugs, and each has an additional and larger refrigerator for residents to use. Some of us became proficient at using the European washing machine and dryer located in the kitchen areas, others simply washed out items of clothing by hand and hung them on travel drying lines stretched across the room. Bring light summer clothing, and washing clothes won’t be a problem at all.

A section of the university cafeteria where Studium participants often eat
Breakfast at Studium
The cafeteria is located just across the parking lot from the dorm. Previous participants in the Studium have graciously offered their advice to the Studium organizers concerning what kinds of foods were most appreciated. There will sometimes be delicious pastries and hearty bread and butter, sometimes cheese and ham, at other times eggs and yogurt, and even granola, for breakfast. Lunch always starts with a delicious soup served family style, followed by a variety of dishes made of meat and potatoes, some fish, several versions of baked dough. Salads have been available, as well, and international participants have encouraged this trend so that the cafeteria managers are beginning to understand more and more what is successful and what is not. Some dishes that were served for lunch or for supper (which is usually lighter than lunch, as is typically European style) were a bit difficult for us to define, made of thick dough and other ingredients. The occasional serving of pirohŷ is always a hit. A sense of humor definitely makes the experience of dealing with the food fun. You’ll have some amusing memories from this aspect of the program—but you’ll never need to go hungry, believe me. And with a visit to TESCO, you can always find a few snacks or pieces of fruit to supplement the cafeteria diet.

 The Ballada Coffee Shop

Perhaps the most beloved spot for Studium participants has been the Ballada coffee shop. It’s located directly across the street from the dorm, a 2-to-3-minute walk from door to door. The Ballada is totally cozy either downstairs or upstairs. Some of the walls are lined with bookshelves filled with books, including books about Carpatho-Rusyns; tables are close together; delicious coffees are served as lattes, cappuccinos, and in other forms, along with pastries, and tea and refreshing beers are also available. The atmosphere inside is perfect. But patrons can also sit outside at small tables in a covered area. This is a great place to relax with friends, talk, and just enjoy a late afternoon or evening. Some participants actually find this a good place to do some studying.

In another post I’ll describe the Studium faculty and classes and also what a typical day is like.

For further information and application, please go to:
Written by Pat Krafcik, email: