Ukraine Day 8

What a journey. With nothing left to do but polish off our blog posts and finalise the filming, this day is one of reflection and intense writing. We’ve finished all the lectures and learnt all there is to learn about the Danube river, and now we’re left alone, aimlessly wandering through the void that was once filled with hour-long interactive lectures. Our language teacher has left us empty and hollow, wanting to learn more Ukrainian with the help of a fun and enthusiastic teacher, but not being able to for the time being.

But that’s okay. We’ve still got the memories of the not-so-distant past fresh in our minds, spurring us on to reach our final destination: the UCL Global Citizenship Programme’s closing ceremony (or the Black Sea). Looking back, we can see how far we’ve come. At the start, we couldn’t even say ‘hello’ in Ukrainian, and now we can fully introduce ourselves and order beef stroganoff and borscht at any restaraunt in Kyiv. We are now more aware of the interconnectedness of the Danube region, and we’ve realised that we shouldn’t look at it in terms of countries, but in terms of people, languages, and cultures. Finalising our blog posts has also spurred us to research further into the Danube region, and Ukraine in particular, giving us interesting knowledge and making the programme a truly worthwhile and memorable one.

We’ve had a great time on this journey, but sadly the end is in sight. The penultimate day has been challenging, but rewarding, and will be cherished along with other memories gained during our time on our voyage.

Tom and Conor, unfortunately for the last time. It was a pleasure, but all good things must come to an end. We are ready to pass the beacon of knowledge and hope to our counterparts next year, and can only hope that they carry out this task that we have come to perfect and love with as much passion as we have. We don’t know what the future holds for Ukraine’s 2018 group, but we are sure that it will be filled with people who were equally inspired as we were.

Thank you, and goodbye for now.

Tom and Conor, and the Ukraine group of 2017

Ukraine day 7

Today marked a sad, sad day for the Ukrainian group as we had to say goodbye to our language teacher, Marta. Her enthusiasm for teaching Ukrainian and engaging style made learning the language less work and more fun. After learning how to introduce ourselves yesterday, we built upon that knowledge and focused on our hobbies and interests, such as reading, singing, or watching films. We also looked at Ukrainian interpretations of the Danube through prose, poetry, and folk songs. What stuck in our minds most was the folk song ‘дунаю, дунаю’ (‘Danube, Danube’), which had potentially the catchiest and most repetitive chorus in existence. It has been a pleasure learning Ukrainian with Marta and we look forward to using our much-improved Ukrainian skills when we visit Ukraine in the future!

Later on we’ll be showcasing our portraits at Waterstones, which will give the group a chance to not only see our creations, but see its effect on others. We will also be able to appreciate the work of others and see how our experiences differed from theirs.

Although the loss of Marta has dampened our spirits, we are looking to the future, where we will have plenty more opportunities to have a great time in the last two days.

Дякую Марта!

Conor and Tom

Ukraine day 6

Day 6 gave us a double dose of knowledge this morning with a suprise announcement of a second lecture right after the first, which was effective at providing us with base knowledge on Roma people and then building upon it in the subsequent lecture, offering us a more personal side of the story. The first lecture largely consisted of Michael Stewart exploring the broader traits of Roma society, and the second revolved around Annabel Tremlett’s various experiences in Hungary with Roma people over a decade. This was especially interesting, as her information and personal pictures helped to add a human element to the subject. Her approach differed from most anthropologists in that she gave her subjects the camera, so it offered a more insider view as opposed to an outsider looking in. This meant that the pictures were less staged, more real, and more representative of the people in question.

In the first half of the language session we started to construct whole sentences for the first time when introducing ourselves. The second part of the session comprised of Marta brushing up our numerical skills to prepare us to order products in Ukrainian with different price tags. She provided a brief outline of the different cultural events that take place in the country.

Today, we got a deeper look into the Roma people, but also ourselves (through the form of Ukrainian language), and we are ready for our last language lesson and the ‘Foreigner Talk’ tomorrow.

Tom and Conor

Ukraine day 5

New week. New experiences. New challenges. The second week exploded onto the scene after a short break with Lily Kahn’s lecture on Jewish life and cultural influence along the Danube. We learned that the Jewish people were exemplary global citizens, making their way from country to country (sometimes illegally), settling and integrating into different societies. We explored how various texts, including Shakespeare, were translated and domesticated, with overtly Christian messages and names changed to suit Jewish audiences. Our second lecture provided an equally interesting experience, charting different languages along the Danube, with a particular emphasis on Boyash. Having studied a Boyash folktale, it is clear that it is deeply interconnected with Romanian, and that languages all around Europe share some form of common etymological history. Eszter highlighted the importance of giving it a distinct identity as labelling it Romanian could mean that efforts will be lowered to preserve it.

Once again the language lesson was an important part of the day, which revolved around identifying and ordering food. We focused on the 12 traditional Ukrainian Christmas dishes, dating back from Orthodox tradition and, before that, Kievan Rus’. Here you could see how Ukrainian cuisine was influenced by the different ethnic groups that live in the area.

As the second week begins, it is sad to see that the end is nearing. Our time on this programme is dwindling, but our enthusiasm is not.

Conor and Tom

Ukraine Day 4

Today Philip Barker talked about migration along the Danube and the ethnic diversity among its people. For example, he highlighted that Attila Jozsef – one of the greatest Hungarian poets – had Romanian and Szekely heritage next to his Hungarian one. It was interesting to find that in the 17th century people had little knowledge of the geography of the river. For example a military map from this period did not show the bend of the Danube in northern Hungary.  Phil demonstrated how the people of the river tried to regulate it to make it more navigable. The lecture also provided a brief outline of the natural environment that can be found along the Danube.

In our academic tutorial we chose our essay topics and some of us started to write them. They will cover a range of topics including Ukrainian music, literature and cinema.

For our fourth language lesson, we gained a more solid base in terms of our numeral knowledge through playing bingo. We also started to learn how to say different kinds of buildings such as church and port. Marta provided an insight into the region of the Ukraine where the Danube flows though.

Tom and Conor

Ukraine day 3

The ever-looming deadline didn’t stop us having a great third day on the Danube strand. The morning kicked off with a lecture by Tim Beasley-Murray about the paradoxes of the Danube. Whilst it was a beacon of safety and interconnected cultures, it also had the capacity to destroy communities via flooding and serve as a divide between nations, much like it does between Romania and Bulgaria. Another interesting point was that the Danube flows the ‘wrong way’ in that it flows away from the industrial western part of Europe to the eastern part filled with the raw materials needed in the west. On top of this, we had a skills session called ‘Talking to Strangers’ which dealt with ways to approach interviewees and what to do in certain scenarios which may hinder the process. The ideas taken away from this lecture will help our group maximise our chances of doing a successful interview where both the interviewers and the subject are comfortable.

In the language class Marta Jenkala introduced us to Ukrainian cases. She also gave a brief overview of Ukraine’s Roma population and the different facilities that Ukrainians have available in London. We also had an interactive session where we were all given a different identity and were meant to discover other people’s identity and their profession. It has helped us to improve our understanding on the basic phrases that we’ve learnt over the past few days as well as learning new vocabulary which is always the most exciting part of learning a new language. Another meaningful day has passed and we look forward to more insightful and interesting days ahead 😊

Conor, Norman, and Tom

Day 2 on the Ukrainian course

In the morning, Dieter Deswarte introduced the art of film making to help make the 3-minute video later in the Global Citizenship programme. He highlighted how different camera angles can be used to capture different aspects of the subject. During the lecture, he also showed some of the common filming mistakes made by students and how they can be avoided. The practice exercise of making a short video using different shot angles allowed students to gain helpful knowledge and experience before they start to make their video involving an interview with a Ukrainian living in London, in which these newfound skills will undoubtedly play a large part.

In the language session, Marta Jenkala taught students how to form basic sentences in Ukrainian. The lesson linked in well with the session yesterday, as new knowledge was built upon existing vocabulary, and further exercises were undertaken to improve our knowledge of the Ukrainian alphabet. It was intriguing to see how Ukrainian borrowed and incorporated words from other languages. One could see how the region’s culture was intertwined with ones that surround it, as the language reflected centuries of constant contact with the outside world, both through cultural exchange and foreign occupation of Ukraine.

The day involved big strides for us all, both in terms of cinematography and language skills, and we look forward to incorporating and improving said skills in the coming week.


Tom, Conor, and Norman

Day 1 – Reflections on Dr Tarsoly’s Introduction

Добрий день,

The programme begun smoothly with a registration at 09:30, followed by an introduction   lecture from Eszter Tarsoly. She began with a personal anecdote about her experience of multiculturalism in Vienna, which was both an engaging and insightful way to illustrate the diversity of the Danubian region. She went on to provide a historical overview of migration and the resulting linguistic distribution in the region. It was interesting to observe that the languages in the region were influence and closely reflect broader historical developments, such as the rise of the Roman Empire.

I was fascinated how some languages, such as Romanian and Moldovan, remained in the region even after most other languages were subsumed due to a change in the dominant culture, in this case the arrival of the Balto-Slavic people. Dr Tarsoly’s use of maps enabled her to make her points clearly and keep us engaged. Furthermore, she managed to home in the point that even within a country’s national borders, languages that are not the dominant language exist. Her use of the personal anecdote about her mother was further effective in making seen the languages like Roma and Yiddish that are present throughout the region. Furthermore, she effectively linked the marginalised position of these languages in the Danubian society to the marginalised socio-economic position of their carriers.