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Ukrainian university lecturers visit ETSU

By Jelissa Neal
On March 30, 2014

Last week, students were treated to a very insightful lecture sponsored by the ETSU Department of Appalachian Studies.
The lecture focused on the similarities between the Carpathian Mountains of Western Ukraine and the Appalachian Mountains in this area. The guest lecturers were Dr. Tetyana Blyznyuk, Department of English, Philosophy and Education; Dr. Olena Budyk, Department of Theory and Methods of Education and Mr. Vasyl Karabinovych, Department of Law.
All of the guests were from PreCaparthian University in Ukraine, with Karabinovych being the only student in the group.
Dr. Ron Roach, chair of the Department of Appalachian Studies introduced the lecture, as well as our three guests.
"Many in Appalachia do not realize that there are historical connections between our regions," Roach said. "For the past decade there has been an exchange of scholars from the Institutions in Appalachia and the Carpathian Mountain region in Ukraine."
The introduction also focused on the similarities between the two nations.
"When visitors from Appalachia go to the Carpathians they are immediately struck with how familiar the landscape feels," Roach said.
Budyk and Blyznyuk began their lecture with a PowerPoint presentation about the mountain schools of the Carpathians.
Similar to the Appalachia area, the Carpathian Mountains are home to a very diverse group of people.
Other similarities included close ties with the land, agrarian influences in education, and an importance of religion and culture.
"The main objective of training students in the Carpathian schools today," said Blyznyuk, who was translating for Budyk, "is forming the pupil's respectful attitude to the environment ... and to encourage graduates after university studies to come back to the mountain area to work."
After the lecture, a video about Ukrainian marriage customs that are practiced by a minority was shown.
The lecture ended with a question-and-answer session.
There were questions about the Ukrainian education system and health care, but a majority of the questions focused on the current state of Ukraine.
Ukraine gained its independence in 1991 after the collapse of the Soviet Union. In March of 2014, the Crimean Peninsula of Ukraine was annexed by Russia.
When asked about how the Crimean people feel about the recent events, Blyznyuk replied, "I cannot comment [personally] on this event, but as far as I feel it is very tragic because they can lose everything they have. They can lose businesses, private property; everything becomes Russian."
"Officially the borders are opened," Blyznyuk replied when asked if people could freely leave or enter Crimea. "But I don't think that people can get into the territory of the Crimea. Because of the referendum a lot of the trains from different parts of Ukraine that went into the territory of the Crimea were stopped without any reason ... There are Russian armies there, so people are just afraid to go there. So it's really terrible because relatives cannot go visit their relatives in the Crimea."
Crimea was annexed by Russia following a referendum, in which the citizens of Crimea voted in a majority to join Russia.
"On TV it was announced that 96 percent or more voted that the people wanted to unite with Russia, and actually, we know that this is not true," Blyznyuk said on the referendum topic.
As of now, Ukraine, the United States, and the European Union do not recognize Crimea as Russia territory.
When asked if there was any fear that Russia might continue to expand into Ukraine, Blyznyuk replied, "Yes, we have a fear."
Blyznyuk also mentioned that the Ukrainians do not want a war with Russia.
Many of the citizens recognize that war is a possibility and are therefore preparing for it in terms of obtaining visas, but it is not something they welcome. "The only thing we have is hope," Blyznyuk said.


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