Summer School of Slavonic Studies 2020: mostly European students going Czech

Photo: Vojtěch Duda
Thursday 9 July 2020, 7:00 – Text: Milada Hronová

Neither the complexity of the Czech language, nor the holiday season, nor the recent pandemic of a new type of coronavirus discouraged those of all ages interested in a month-long intensive study of Czech in Olomouc. However, this year’s Summer School of Slavonic Studies at the Faculty of Arts of Palacký University Olomouc will be attended mainly by students from EU countries.

“According to my information, we are the only summer school of Slavonic studies to be held in the Czech Republic this year due to the coronavirus situation. We thank the management of the faculty for allowing us to run the programme once again. From July 18, almost a hundred foreign students will be studying Czech at Palacký University,” said Pavla Poláchová, director of the Summer School of Slavonic Studies at the UP Faculty of Arts. For its 34th year, 69 scholarships were applied for and granted by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic, while 25 applicants will be paying for the intensive summer Czech language course on their own.

This year, the organisers of the Olomouc summer school noted increased interest among those foreigners who are living in the Czech Republic. The youngest student will come from France, the oldest will be an American who has lived in Hradec Králové for a long time. However, all students from abroad will have to follow certain rules that the school has newly set in place in connection with the recent Covid-19 pandemic.

“Upon registration, participants will have to show proof of a negative test for Covid-19, no more than four days old. During the courses, we will observe increased hygienic measures, especially hand sanitisation; we will provide masks and gloves for those interested. We have also arranged more frequent cleaning and disinfection of the premises,” added Poláchová.

According to her, the extent of this year’s programme is nearly the same and most of the accompanying events will be located outdoors. The only cancelled event is an international gastronomic picnic where students regularly present foods and drinks from their country of origin.

At the beginning of the programme, students will be divided into ten smaller study groups. They will be taught by teachers from FF UP as well as graduates and external students. In addition to studying Czech, they can also look forward to many experiences, for example an excursion to the Chomout Brewery, a distillery in Těšetice, the Rodas candlemaker, and Fort Science. They will also be able to take part in a theatre workshop in cooperation with the Nabalkoně Theatre a workshop of folk dances and songs, and a folklore night with a dulcimer band.

The Summer School of Slavonic Studies at the UP Faculty of Arts cooperates with the university initiative Park It!, which will organise an open-air film screening for the foreign students. The summer school will also join forces with the UP Academic Sport Centre, for morning yoga practice and two sports afternoons. Thanks to an agreement with the STUART student association, the summer school organisers have also prepared two cycling races which will be concluded with roasting sausages over a campfire. Foreign students will be able to take a trip to the picturesque town of Strážnice (known for its folklore), see the local wine cellars, the Moravian Karst, and the Beskydy Mountains. Among other things, lectures entitled “Jára Cimrman”, “Czech Puppet Theatre” and “From Folk Songs to Marek Eben” have been prepared for them. The topic of the recent pandemic will not be left out either.

“We are not leaving anything to chance and, of course, we are also preparing for the possibility that the whole school could remain in quarantine. In that case, we would transfer teaching, i.e. lectures and workshops, to the online space. But I believe this will not be necessary,” concluded Poláchová. This year’s Summer School of Slavonic Studies at the UP Faculty of Arts will take place from 18 July to 16 August.