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