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Thirty Third Harvard Ukrainian Summer Institute

[The traditional photo of HUSI students, faculty and associates on the steps of Widener Library]
The traditional photo of HUSI students, faculty and associates
on the steps of Widener Library.

The classes are over, exams written, and graduation certificates distributed - which means that yet another Harvard Ukrainian Summer Institute has run its course leaving participants with fresh memories of eight weeks lived at the speed of light when one day counts for a week of a regular university. The program is always so many-facetted, rich academically, socially, and experientially, that even the staunchest skeptic eventually develops a measure of interest in Ukrainian studies that was unthinkable only several weeks earlier.

Skeptics and enthusiasts

"In an ironic academic twist, the class I took, Theorizing Ukraine, was meant to be a throw-away class," says Jonathan Freeman, ALM candidate at the Harvard Extension School, "the kind of class students take just so they can get their degree. I can say with confidence that the class was the best I had. We explored not only domestic concerns within Ukraine, but were also able to understand Ukraine as a template for other similar and not so similar experiences in the former communist states. Combined with a great class dynamic it was a great learning experience on many levels."
Stefan Iwaskewycz from Minnesota goes further in his unabashed enthusiasm, "I was able to get out of the HUSI program everything that I had hoped for and more, and in a manner better than I could have imagined. HUSI gave me the opportunity to meet and learn from a wide range of people from a variety of countries with a strong interest in Ukraine. By interacting with all these people in either formal settings such as language classes, seminars, and the very engaging program of lectures and films, or through informal "fun and games," my understanding of contemporary Ukrainian culture and myself as a Ukrainian-American grew in leaps and bounds. I will look back at this summer with nothing but fondness, especially as I am now preparing to spend a year in Ukraine. Nothing could have served as better preparation!"
Not surprisingly skeptics have always been a minority at HUSI. The program generally attracts enthusiasts of Ukrainian studies across age groups, and educational, professional, cultural and ethnic profiles. In this sense, HUSI-2003 unwaveringly followed tradition. Trite an oxymoron as this surely sounds, but tradition for HUSI means experimentation, change, innovation, and diversity.

Experimentation, Change, and Innovation

[(from left) Tanya Wedmid, student of Intermediate Ukrainian just received her graduation certificate from the HUSI Director Halyna Hryn at the graduation ceremony, August 15, 2003]
(from left) Tanya Wedmid, student of Intermediate Ukrainian just received her graduation certificate from the HUSI Director Halyna Hryn at the graduation ceremony, August 15, 2003.

This year HUSI continued an important innovation started several years ago - increasingly greater curricular orientation towards graduate students. In the past, the Institute offered courses designed primarily for graduate students, such as the graduate seminars on "State and Society in Contemporary Ukraine", Professor Bohdan Krawchenko 1997, or on "Ukrainian Politics in Contemporary Perspective", Professor Paul D'Anieri, 1998. This year this trend was taken a step further when HUSI introduced the first team-taught graduate course "Studying Twentieth Century Ukraine: Theory, Methodology, Identity".
Taught as a methodological seminar by three senior faculty: George Grabowicz, the Dmytro Cyzevs'kyj Professor of Ukrainian Literature, Harvard University; John-Paul Himka, Professor of History, University of Alberta; and Alexander J. Motyl, Professor of Political Science, Rutgers University, Newark, the course was conceived as a historically and comparatively informed examination of social science approaches to conceptualizing politics in Ukraine. Twelve students investigated theories of the state, revolution, nation, nationalism, and related subjects, discussing them in connection to one another, in light of modern Ukrainian history, and with reference to other countries.
In the opinion of Professor Motyl, "the course was a tremendous success, as it offered the students and the three faculty members an opportunity to engage in sustained interdisciplinary discussion of various conceptual, methodological, and theoretical issues of Ukrainian studies". Adds Professor Himka, the methodology seminar "was a particular treat as we traded ideas about literature, history and politics. It was interesting also just to observe the different professorial styles and to see how students from Ukraine and North America handled the discussion."


Experimentation goes together with creativity and faithful to the practice of their predecessors, Ukrainian language students produced at the end of the summer session their very own theatre skits that reflected, not unpredictably, the joys and vicissitudes of their life and studies at Harvard. Orchestrated seamlessly as an 1.5-hour show, where performance skits alternated with Ukrainian folk singing and dancing, enhanced by such requisite trappings of professional theater as heavy make-up, cross-dressing and stage scenery, it became both a manifestation of the students' impressive linguistic achievement and just sheer plain fun. "On the fun and culture side," says Professor Himka, "my most memorable moment was the evening of skits. Wonderful talent - I had a great time." And so did most everybody else - actors and the audience alike. The students somehow managed to convert their newly acquired or greatly improved Ukrainian language skills into music of a kind - one does not need to know the lyrics to appreciate the song.
This is not to imply that the rest of the busy program of cultural events at the summer school somehow lacked in gravity and content. It included lectures by invited speakers, film screenings, and theater and music presentations. In cooperation with the Harvard Film Archive the Institute organized screenings of two great Ukrainian cinema classics: the silent Arsenal (1929, director Oleksandr Dovzhenko) with live piano accompaniment by Yakiv Gubanov, Associate Professor of Composition, Berklee College of Music, and Musical Consultant, Harvard Film Archive; and the now rare Zaporozhets Beyond the Danube, (1937, director Ivan Kavaleridze), one of the first Soviet film adaptations of an opera for the screen.

[Students of Beginning Ukrainian presenting their play "True Love", August 8, 2003 ]
Students of Beginning Ukrainian presenting their play "True Love", August 8, 2003.

Some of the more popular events were the literary reading "Displacement and Passage" with participation of the writers Irene Zabytko, Askold Melnyczuk, and Volodymyr Dibrova, reading from their respective works When Luba Leaves Home, The Great Hospital, and Tealux Sketchbook; the performance by Yara Art Group of the original music-theatre piece Swan, based on the eponymous poem of Oleh Lysheha; and an evening of Ukrainian songs performed by the Ukrainian Colors vocal and instrumental folk ensemble from Kyiv, that offered renditions of folk and ritual songs, ancient chants, and psalms.
The invited lecture series featured such thought-provoking presentations as "Is Ukraine a Democracy" by Adrian Karatnycky, former President of the Freedom House; "The Making of Modern Ukraine and the European Connection" by Roman Szporluk, Mykhailo Hrushevskyi Professor Ukrainian History, and Director of HURI; "Memory as a Factor in Polish-Ukrainian Relations" by Agnieszka Magdziak-Miszewska, Consul General of the Republic of Poland in New York; and "Shevchenko as an Academic Painter" by Myroslava Mudrak, Associate Professor of Art History, Ohio State University.


Thirty eight students enrolled in the Harvard Ukrainian Summer Institute-2003 - eighteen graduate students, sixteen undergraduates , and four professionals. Twenty two came from the United States (six from New York State, two each from California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and New Jersey, and one each from Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin).
The second largest national group - thirteen in all - was Ukrainian. Call it a benefit of globalization, or a paradox, but there are many Ukrainians who come to HUSI to study Ukraine. Not only do Ukrainians learn about western perspectives on their country's history, politics, literature, and language, but they also engage with their Western classmates and share with them their native Ukrainian perspective.

[Students of Ukrainian literature course in the Institute's Seminar Room rethinking the canon with Professor George Grabowicz ]
Students of Ukrainian literature course in the Institute's Seminar Room rethinking the canon with Professor George Grabowicz.

This summer Ukrainians represented either academic institutions located in Ukraine, or schools in Canada, the U.S. and Poland where they currently study. These students were able to study at the Harvard Summer School thanks to the financial support of various institutions and individual donors: Vira Moskalenko, Anna Osypchuk (both Kyiv Mohyla Academy), and Svitoslav Katerousha (Volodymyr Vernadskyi Tavryda National University, Symferopil) were sponsored by the International Renaissance Foundation; Margaryta Belichenko (Taras Shevchenko National University, Kyiv), Dzvenyslava Matiyash (European Collegium of Polish-Ukrainian Universities, Lublin, Poland), Oksana Tatsyak and Anna Chukur (both University of Toronto) were supported by HURI; Nadia Volos (Ivan Franko National University, Lviv) received financing from the Shenkiryk Family Ukrainian Studies Fund; Anna Tsependa (the Vasyl Stefanyk Precarpathian University, Ivano-Frankivsk) was in part supported by HURI and in part by the Jacob Hornstein family; and, finally, Iryna Babych, Volodymyr Mysak, and Mariya Tsymbalista (Ukrainian Catholic University, Lviv) were sponsored by the Ukrainian Studies Fund.
For the first time since its establishment thirty three years ago, young scholars from Russia and Greece came to study at the Harvard Ukrainian Summer Institute: Madina Alekseeva and Tatyana Kurokhtina, both from Moscow State University studied Advanced Ukrainian and Twentieth Century Ukrainian Literature: Rethinking the Canon; and Maria Liakata, native of Athens, working on her Ph.D. in computational linguistics at the University of Oxford, England, studied Intermediate Ukrainian and Modern Ukraine. HURI offered these students full tuition and living expenses, they returned the favor by showing a passion for Ukrainian studies, and dedication and achievement in their courses that inspired their classmates and instructors alike.

Senkowsky Prize

The last day of the program, Friday, August 15, was a celebration of work well done. Students and faculty gathered for the ceremony announcing the winners of the Theodosius and Irene Senkowsky Prize for Achievement in Ukrainian Studies and for the distribution of HUSI graduations certificates
The Senkowsky Prize, established in 1989 through a generous donation made by Marta and Ostap Tarnawsky of Philadelphia in honor of Mrs. Tarnawsky's parents, is awarded for outstanding progress and academic excellence demonstrated by students of the Ukrainian Summer Institute. The sum of an individual reward varies depending on the number of its recipients each year. Over the years, the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute has symbolically matched the Prize by a gift of books it has published. The nominations for the Prize are made by course instructors to a committee consisting of HURI'S Executive Director and the summer school faculty. The nominations are based on the students' performance in class and their contribution to the intellectual and cultural life of the Summer Institute.
This year three students were chosen for the special recognition by the Senkowsky Prize. First prize and a reward of $ 500.00 was given to Anna Osypchuk, graduate of the National University of Kyiv Mohyla Academyl second prize was shared by Madina Alekseeva (Moscow State University) and Maria Liakata (University of Oxford) with a reward of $350.00 apiece.
An especially fitting feature of the ceremony was the presentation of the HUSI-2003 Yearbook put together by the students and produced by Adam Beaver of the HURI Publications Office, replete with photos of the most memorable moments, interviews with the faculty , student essays and, yes, poetry. Obviously for some the Harvard Ukrainian Summer Institute proved an inspiration.
In closing the summer institute HUSI Director Halyna Hryn said that twelve years into Ukraine's existence as an independent state there is the promise of a new infusion of talented people who will make their own mark on Ukrainian civic and academic life. This year HUSI students are precisely such people. It is her expectation that they will only build on what was begun here this summer.

Compiled by Yuri Shevchuk

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