NEWS AND VIEWS
Of lasting friendships forged in Harvard's summer heat
by Svitlana Kobzar
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - As the last traces of the summer
quickly disappear, there's still time to reflect on its special moments. A
unique mix of students and professors made their mark at Harvard this year.
Lasting friendships, lively discussions and fun memories are part of the
experience of the Harvard Ukrainian Summer Institute's students.
is one of the people who made the HUSI summer unforgettable. She received her
B.A. and M.A. degrees in literature from Kyiv-Mohyla Academy in Ukraine. She is currently working on her
Ph.D. in Lublin, Poland, at the European Collegium of Polish and Ukrainian Universities.
developed a love for literature as a child, remembering that "unlike many
of my peers, instead of going to play outside I would find a quiet place to
read." She translated her first poem when she was in the fifth grade. This
personal interest flourished in her adult career.
Now, as a student of
literature and a translator, she enjoys reading and translating different
genres, such as history, poetry, fiction, etc. In 2002, she, along with four
colleagues, translated and published the Belarusian poet Andrei Khadanovich. Ms. Matiyash considers
translation a creative act. She explains that "translating works is
similar to writing new text. On one hand, there is freedom to search for
various words and phrases which will best convey the author's intent; on the
other hand, the text of the original author creates a boundary within which a
translator needs to stay."
At HUSI, Ms. Matiyash spent time diligently working on translating from
English to Ukrainian Timothy Snyder's "The Reconstruction of Nations: Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, Belarus, 1569-1999," while enrolled in
the interdisciplinary graduate seminar "Studying 20th Century Ukraine:
Theory, Methodology, Identity." "The days
were full of interesting experiences of meeting and learning about
people," said Ms. Matiyash about her two months at
HUSI. She added that she hopes to keep in touch with the people she met this
Another student from Kyiv-Mohyla Academy who attended HUSI this year was Vira Moskalenko, a Ph.D. student
interested in the theoretical aspects of social policy and social security. Ms.
Moskalenko said she believes that studying political
science, especially from a theoretical perspective, is particularly relevant in
the modern world. She believes "an examination of Ukraine's social transformation based on
theory will enable us to affect Ukraine's future reforms." Ms. Moskalenko hopes to teach political science at the
Reflecting on her HUSI
experience, Ms. Moskalenko said she realized that the
goal of academia is "an understanding of effective methods of learning and
critical thinking. ... Learning is not just gaining facts, but the goal of
learning is to learn how to learn." This summer she saw various teaching
styles. She explained that HUSI strengthened her desire to become a professor
and employ teaching techniques she witnessed this summer. "Higher learning
teaches people to think critically, and, as a professor, I would be happy to be
part of this process."
This trip to Harvard was
Ms. Moskalenko's first experience abroad. She enjoyed
visits to museums in Boston and New York. "HUSI enabled me to encounter
a world culture It is one thing to study art, and
another to actually see it," she noted. She said she was especially
impressed with the collections of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and The Metropolitan
Museum of Art in New York. She added that this summer seemed
like a single moment, very quick, and that "these kinds of moments
constitute life. I am fortunate to have had such a rich experience both
culturally and academically. ... The HUSI experience will always remain in my
It was a pleasure to
compare notes with Tania Kurokhtina, who is currently
studying at Moscow State University (MSU) and began learning Ukrainian when she
entered the Slavic department at MSU. "I found it very interesting and
exciting to study something new that had never been taught in Russia," she noted. Ms. Kurokhtina found out about HUSI from Prof. Oksana Ostapchuk, her supervisor,
who had spent a semester at the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute as a
Eugene and Daymel Shklar
Fellow for 2002-2003.
As Ms. Kurokhtina
looked back at her HUSI experience, she remembered joyful moments. "I met
so many interesting people who enjoy studying Ukrainian as I do, and who are in
love with everything connected with Ukraine." She also noted, "The
level of teaching at HUSI is very high, and I am not sure if I will ever be
able to enjoy anything else [academically] as much as I enjoyed HUSI."
Lectures by Prof. George Grabowicz and Prof. Volodymyr Dibrova strengthened
her interest in Ukrainian literature and language. In addition to helping
improve her Ukrainian skills, HUSI professors led Ms. Kurokhtina
to think about her future. "If I choose to be a teacher, I will definitely
try to be like my teachers at HUSI," she said with admiration.
HUSI's academically strong and culturally
enriching curriculum led its students to think analytically about Ukraine's past, present and future. Lasting
friendships were forged in Harvard's summer heat. When HUSI students reflect on
memories of the 2003 institute, many find these two months to be the most
intense and joyful they have ever had.
Copyright © The
Ukrainian Weekly, September 14, 2003, No. 37, Vol. LXXI