Wednesday, February 19, 2014


A typical morning at the Studium begins with breakfast offered from 7:30 in the cafeteria across from the dorm. Participants then go off to morning class which begins at 9. In weeks one and two, 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. In week three, the first class session each day will be the folklore lectures offered by Professor Patricia Krafcik in English and Professor Emeritus Mykola Mushynka in Rusyn. After lunch throughout the three weeks, beginning Rusyn-language students will have class with Marek Gaj and Patricia Krafcik, and intermediate and advanced students will meet for language study with Dr. Kveta Koporova. Instructors at the Studium are all devoted to working closely with you in broadening and deepening your understanding of Rusyn language, history, and culture. 

 Paul Robert Magocsi and Mykola Mušynka.    

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 from the start! 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 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 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. 

Valerii 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. 

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. 

Marek Gaj is a schoolteacher steeped in his Rusyn language and culture. For twelve years he has taught children Rusyn in a school in Medzilaborce. His experience will serve him well as he helps guide beginners in the basics of the Rusyn language. Like other teachers of Slavic languages, Marek is aware that such complex Slavic languages as Rusyn cannot be taught in three weeks, but he will offer an enjoyable introduction to the language through the learning of the alphabet, some basic grammar, simple phrases and sentences, and songs. 

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 three 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 past three sessions of the Studium. My lectures are more like talks in which I invite participation from the students so that our sessions resemble a discussion over coffee—they are both serious and enjoyable, 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. I will also be assisting Marek Gaj in his teaching of beginning Rusyn. For the first two weeks, while Marek is still finishing his academic year in Medzilaborce with his own pupils, I will work with the beginners during the first hour of class, practicing what Marek has taught us. During the second hour, Marek will arrive to introduce new material. In week three, he will teach the full class time, but I will be there to help with translating questions you might have for him. 

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 historian in her own right and is a lovely individual who is willing to go the extra mile to help participants feel at home. You may also meet along the way others members of the staff of the Institute for Rusyn Language and Culture.  

We all hope to see you at the Studium this summer for three weeks of significant learning and unforgettable experiences. The deadline (somewhat flexible) for applying is March 1, 2014, and applications and more information are available at the Carpatho-Rusyn Society website. Please note that the arrival for participants from abroad is Saturday, June 14. Already on Sunday, June 15, we have our first excursion—a visit to the Svidník Open Air Museum and the Svidník Rusyn Folk Festival which celebrates its 60th anniversary this year.

Feel free to contact me with any questions you might have, at  

Written by Pat Krafcik

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