Tuesday, February 24, 2015


Small group of Studium participants, 2014, in front of St. Alexander Nevsky Orthodox Church
The Studium Carpato-Ruthenorum announces its sixth annual International Summer School for Rusyn Language and Culture: Sunday, June 7-Saturday, June 27!

After a successful session in June 2014, the Studium will again be hosted this coming June 2015 in Prešov, sponsored by the Institute for Rusyn Language and Culture at Prešov University. Many of the details around the three-week session are the same as described in texts located here at this blog and posted last year—with a few changes.

A folk ensemble at the Svidnik Folk Festival
The Studium will continue to provide parallel lectures in history in English by Professor Paul Robert Magocsi, reknown scholar of Carpatho-Rusyn Studies from the University of Toronto, and in Rusyn by Valerii Padiak from Uzhhorod, who is an instructor in the Institute for Rusyn Language and Culture at Prešov University. The Prešov-Region Rusyn language is taught at its higher level by Kveta Koporova, linguist and faculty member at Prešov University.

Enjoying scrumptious langoshi
A major new element: Marek Gaj, a young man who teaches Rusyn in the public schools in the Prešov Region, joined the Studium faculty last summer for the first time and will return to again work with the beginning language students. I assisted him in his teaching, helping with some translation, and also learning from him. He is a friendly and energetic guy with a good sense of humor, and brings with him a special love of Rusyn folksongs. After the first week, every class session ended with us learning new songs and repeating old ones with Marek playing a synthesizer keyboard. Marek introduced to our American participants the Cyrillic alphabet, some very basic grammar, and a raft of simple words and phrases, so that by the end of the three-week session we were all managing to introduce ourselves comfortably and to communicate lots of information about ourselves and our families, etc. No Slavic language can be mastered in three weeks, but our participants got a feel for the language and left with some basic conversational skills.

A new and wonderful element this summer: Professor Elena Boudovskaia, Russian-language faculty at Georgetown University, will be working along with Marek to aid in the teaching of Rusyn and will also provide lectures in Carpatho-Rusyn folklore and folk life in English. Just this fall, Elena gave a talk to the New Jersey Chapter of the C-RS on the practices and beliefs of Carpatho-Rusyns in small villages in Transcarpathia where she has done extensive linguistic research. She also has experience teaching folklore, and is weaving her interests together to offer participants a truly fascinating journey into Carpatho-Rusyn culture today as it still retains vestiges of a distant past.
Loom weaving at the Rusyn Museum, Presov
Among the excursions planned will be a repeat visit to Prešov University Emeritus Professor Mykola Mushynka’s native village of Kurov  where in the past couple of summer sessions Studium participants were greeted warmly with performances by the Kurov Folk Ensemble and fabulous Rusyn food and drink. Last summer, our American participants were embraced by the Kurov young folks, danced and sang with them—and it was very difficult to part at the end of the evening!

An excursion to a number of historical Carpathian wooden churches is on the docket, as is a day trip to Krynica, Poland and a visit with famous Lemko-Rusyn poet Petro Trokhanovskij who will give a tour of the museum and monument dedicated to Nikifor Drovn’ak, the unique Lemko-Rusyn artist whose work is a stellar example of “Naïve” or “Primitive” Art and “Outsider Art.”

Bronze sculpture of Andy Warhol, Medzilaborce

Back in Prešov, food in the cafeteria at the university continues to improve. Last summer, we enjoyed delicious dinner salads every evening, if we chose that option, and the soups at lunch are always superb. Breakfasts are nutritious, as well, with delicious yogurts, granola cereals, cheese and ham, fresh bread and rolls, and hot coffee. Ice cream from the little shop “Croatia” on Florianova Street in Old Town Prešov, a leisurely 15-minute walk from the dorm, is probably the best in the world (I think I raved about this in last year’s blog text…), and Studium participants once again thoroughly enjoyed dropping across the street from the dorm into the cozy Ballada, a coffee shop run by Carpatho-Rusyns and providing your favorite teas and coffee drinks, as well as beer and wine, to warm the heart and to make you feel completely at home.

Perhaps there is something to be said for tours which take you from place to place in the course of a week or ten days, but there is nothing quite like remaining in one central location (with excursions, of course) and immersing in a genuine learning experience. You will come away with a new appreciation for the land of your grandparents and great-grandparents, as well as with new friends and an open invitation to return again. In addition, every year of experience seems to enhance the Studium’s operations, making it the best deal possible for those who wish to spend that longer time immersed in learning about Carpatho-Rusyn history and culture in its native environment rather than simply passing through as a tourist.

Prof. Mushynka with Studium participants
College students are especially warmly invited as you will mix with students from Prešov University and Transcarpathia who are involved in the Rusyn Institute. If you wish, the Institute will provide you with a document stating the number of hours of history, language study, and folklore/cultural studies you had. As with a number of other study abroad programs, you may then take this document to your home college or university, and your institution will decide on the number of semester or quarter-hour credits you will be awarded. Credit amount depends not on Prešov University, but on your home institution. Just know that it is possible to get credits, if you wish. If you want to do this, please inform the organizers when you arrive to the Studium.

Poster outside the Institute of Rusyn Language & Culture
The application and information about this year’s Studium is posted at the Carpatho-Rusyn Society website. While the official deadline for sending in the simple online application is March 1, 2015, that date is somewhat flexible. If you need a couple extra weeks to make plans, please let me know. I’m sure that that will be fine. You can contact me, Pat Krafcik (in Olympia, Washington state), at patkrafcik@gmail.com with any questions you might have. I’m happy to talk with you and/or to put you in contact with alumni from the past couple of sessions. Please note that although the official information sheet says that payment (initial down payment and remainder) may be paid by bank check, I just now heard from the organizers that applicants should follow the instructions on the information sheet to conduct a bank transfer instead.

Maybe this is your year to give the Studium a try!
Delicious spread at the final banquet and certificate ceremony for the Studium 2014