The Harvard Ukrainian Summer Institute (HUSI) began its 47th annual program on Saturday, June 17. Over the weekend, students from around the country and the world kicked off the start of the summer term with orientation activities.
Classes start this week, with our students taking either the Ukrainian for Reading Knowledge course with Volodymyr Dibrova or the subject matter courses. Serhii Bilenky (Department of Political Science, University of Toronto) is teaching Society, Culture, and Politics in Modern Ukraine, a course that focuses on the history of modern Ukraine through a territorial concept consisting of the experiences of major communities such as Ukrainians, Poles, Jews, and Russians. We welcome Sophia Wilson (Assistant Professor, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville) for the first time as a HUSI instructor. Her course, titled State-Society Relations in Independent Ukraine, covers the patterns and dynamic of interaction between the state and society in Ukraine.
HUSI by the numbers
One of the qualities that makes HUSI special is the diversity of the community it brings together. This year, our students represent four countries, range in age from 20 to 37, and are at different stages in their academic or professional life.
Our six Ukrainian students, who are joining us from Kyiv, Irpin, Rohatyn, and Cambridge (UK), contribute their views and experiences while examining their country through Western academic perspectives. These students are joined in the subject matter courses by three Americans from Maine, Michigan, and New York.
The five students attending HUSI to learn the Ukrainian language are from the United States (Pennsylvania and California), Scotland, and Austria.
While recent HUSI programs tend to attract more graduate students than undergraduates, this year’s batch is more balanced. Five of the fourteen students are undergraduates, one is a fresh Bachelor’s degree graduate, three are PhD candidates, and the remaining are either working toward or already have earned at least one Master’s degree.
In terms of disciplines, the class covers a lot of ground: political science, history, international relations, philology, philosophy, journalism, theory of translation, area studies, anthropology, and biochemistry. Such a diverse group is sure to lead to some interesting discussions.
Meet the class
Over the next few months, our students, faculty, and guest speakers will create the strong community that sets HUSI apart from other academic summer programs. We’re excited to see the unique contributions each student brings, drawing on their diverse backgrounds, interests, and experiences.
As the program progresses, the students will share their reflections and insights on our HUSI blog, so check back often for a little taste of life at the Institute. For now, meet a few of our students and join us in welcoming them!
A PhD candidate at the University of Cambridge, Mariia Terentieva already holds two Master’s degrees: one in Journalism and the other in Screen Media and Cultures. She has experience working in television, new media, and communications. For her PhD, she is investigating how new media - such as Hromadske radio, Prometheus (a grassroots learning portal), ProZorro (a procurement system), and social media - support grassroots pro bono civic initiatives in Ukraine. In her analysis, she theorizes a concept that she calls “public self-service media” and considers how digital media can aid in developing civil society.
“I am honored to become a part of HUSI community and very excited to meet the bright young academics and professionals who are dedicated to advancing knowledge about Ukraine in the world. I treasure the opportunity to probe my research hypothesis and discuss topical issues in Ukrainian studies with colleagues from all over the globe,” she said. “During this seven-week program, I hope to develop a deeper understanding of Ukraine's civil society in historical perspective and become better versed in political theory. This will enrich my PhD project by helping me answer my principal research question: ‘How is the relationship between the state and Ukrainian civil society changing in the new media era?’”
Solomiya Petlyak is a rising junior studying anthropology and international studies at Bryn Mawr College near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Born and raised in Ukraine, the Euromaidan events sparked her interest in international and Ukrainian politics. In addition to being an avid reader and traveler, she is actively involved in social justice groups on her college campus as the president of its Amnesty International chapter.
At HUSI, she’s looking forward to exploring her homeland from an academic perspective, and enriching her focus on Eastern Europe. “In the future I am hoping to apply this knowledge to work in the field of Ukrainian-American relations, as well as help Ukraine become a stronger country,” she said.
Anna Nutter recently completed a Fulbright Grant in Ukraine. There, she taught at three universities in Kyiv and volunteered packing materials for those in the East. While completing her grant, Anna became interested in the formation of post-Soviet Ukrainian cultural identity, especially in the wake of the Maidan Revolution and the Russian invasion. In pursuit of her interest, she created a photo exhibition focusing on the different everyday places, from hair ties to billboards, where the Ukrainian colors could be found.
In the future, she hopes to complete her Master’s and eventually her PhD in Russian and East European studies, focusing on post-Soviet politics.
Currently a graduate student at Stanford working toward his Master's in Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies, Joel Beckner is also a US Army Foreign Area Officer for Europe and Eurasia.
“Last year, I had the opportunity to visit Ukraine and was greatly inspired by the work going on there to reform the nation,” he said. At HUSI, he’s taking the intensive Ukrainian language course with Volodymyr Dibrova. “My hope is that HUSI will be the beginning of a lifelong connection to Ukraine and that I will also be able to use my language skills as part of the US embassy country team in Kyiv.”
Joining us from Rohatyn, Ukraine, Khrystyna Yanovska is an enthusiastic undergraduate student studying English Translation and Methodology of Teaching English at Ternopil National Pedagogical University.
She’s eager to learn more about her country, which she believes is “the must-do thing for every true Ukrainian.” She also plans to develop her English language skills and enjoy campus life at Harvard, while contributing to discussions in the classroom and beyond. “I am ready to share my knowledge and own perception of Ukraine,” she said.
Daryna Koryagina recently earned her Master’s degree in political science from Central European University in Budapest. A resident of Kyiv, she’s interested in studying her country from a different angle.
“I want to influence its development as a truly democratic state,” she said. “At HUSI I plan to actively engage in fruitful discussions with my fellow participants.”
"Harvard Ukrainian Summer Institute is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to obtain knowledge from the world's best experts in Slavic Studies," Alise Suprun said. As a prospective PhD student, she anticipates finding inspiration for future research during the academic program. "I also hope participation in HUSI will foster my career in promoting democracy and establishing a prosperous society in Ukraine, as well as transforming the state into a strong player in the international arena. At the same time, new cultural experiences will broaden my horizons and expand my professional network throughout the globe," she added, offering a favorite quote from Eleanor Roosevelt: The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.
A warm welcome to all of our students. We’re looking forward to a productive summer!