"Ukrainian for Reading Knowledge: A Space for Artistic Expression" by Jonathan Gonzalez

Art. Humanity has tried to define art for centuries, but we still have not come up with a concrete definition. For me, art is expression. The class ‘Ukrainian for Reading Knowledge’ served as a space for creative expression and helped me strengthen my definition of the value of the humanities.

STEM has taken over the 21st Century, and in my opinion, to the detriment of the humanities. As an inquisitive person I always ask myself, why do I study the humanities? The answer is simple. Because I am a human, therefore the study of humanity is worth studying. STEM has contributed so much to humanity, but the humanities are still equally important. The humanities prepare us to answer those questions that involve interpretation and expression.

The arts are part of the humanities. Art enables us to be part of something larger than ourselves, and maybe even larger than life. Learning a foreign language is an art, uttering a new word is a melody, and letting a string of phrases spring fluently is a performance.

‘Ukrainian for Reading Knowledge’ helped me create a bond with Ukraine and the Ukrainian people. The bond helped me not only sympathize with Ukraine, but it also helped me realize that my own problems are not the most pressing issues in the world. The process of making the bond was challenging, because Ukrainian is a difficult language, but the process was very artistic. Reading a text in Ukrainian was like reading a music sheet, where every word is a note and together they create a song and a message. The Summer Institute helped me strengthen my definition of the value of the humanities because through the art of learning a foreign language I discovered a vast new world and I created a bond with the Ukrainian people.

In addition to strengthening my perception of the humanities, ‘Ukrainian for Reading Knowledge’ served as a space for artistic expression. Every Friday, Dr. Dibrova gave each student the chance to present on a topic of their predilection. The topic for the second week of the class was music. Students were to select a piece of music and present about it.

Jonathan Gonzolez

The Friday of those presentations, I was delighted to present my piano performance of Ukrainian composer Mykola Lysenko’s “Elegie Op.41 No.3”. My performance was accessed through my YouTube channel, where I posted other performances of Russian and Ukrainian music. Personally, music has always been a channel of communication with other people. I was very glad to communicate with my classmates and professor through music.

In addition to music, other Friday topics included films, literature and poetry. Each student had the chance to present their favorite work from each category. The process was very artistic because every student had the chance to express their emotions and feelings by means of their favorite work of art.

Moreover, Harvard University has wonderful resources for those interested in art. The Harvard music building is located in the corner of Oxford and Kirkland Street. The building houses over 25 practice rooms. The practice rooms have either a grand piano or an upright piano. Room number 27 has a harpsichord. I discovered the latter and played a harpsichord for the very first time of my life. I attached a photo of me taken while I was playing Bach’s Fantasia in C Minor BWV 906.

In conclusion, the Summer Institute helped me appreciate art and cherish more the humanities. I am so thankful for having the opportunity to be part of the Institute and to learn Ukrainian. I was also glad to enjoy access to the plethora of resources that Harvard offers. The Institute also helped me narrow down and redefine my goals after I get my Bachelor’s in May 2017. I plan to apply to a Master’s program abroad and ultimately pursue a Ph.D. Wherever I go and whatever I do, I want music and foreign languages to be part of my life.

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