Student life: Roma Students in Central Eastern Europe
This year Central European University (Budapest, Hungary) is hosting more than 5o Roma students both MA students and Roma Access Programs students. CEU is well known in Central Eastern Europe for its higher education programs for Roma students. Currently there are two ongoing programs: Roma Graduate Preparation Program and Roma English Language Program. The former is an intensive 9-month program that prepares promising Roma youth to compete for places of study in English-language Master's degree programs at CEU and other recognized universities. As far as the latter is concerned it aims to enhance participants’ English language skills in order for them to successfully apply for career and internship opportunities at various local and international organizations, as well as for educational programs, such as the Roma Graduate Preparation Program (RGPP) at CEU. Furthermore, RELP works to build strong Roma youth leadership in terms of skills, knowledge, pride and commitment for the betterment of Roma communities.
Besides the excellent academic preparation, student life in these programs is great. Studying in such an international environment, diverse, multicultural contributes in students’ personal development. Being together with Roma youngsters all across Europe (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Moldova, Slovakia, Spain and Turkey) and living in the same building is one of the things not so many have the opportunity for it.
Conferences, public lectures, different events and seminars, career fairs, sports days, balls, exhibitions (Calling Cards , Romani in Watercolors or Model) festivals, charity events (clothes drive) and even protests (e.g. Supporting Leonarda) are only few of the activities Roma students have the opportunity to join. Few days ago Roma students took part in the International Cultural Festival and proudly presented the “Romaland”.
The International Cultural Festival is hosted by Central European University (Hungary) in January every year. The festivities commence with a speech by the Rector and a quiz on all sorts of facts related to the countries of the world. This opening event is followed by a week of international movie screenings, dance classes, and other international happenings, ending with the International Bazaar and International Party on Saturday in the CEU Residence Center. During the bazaar, all types of traditional products are presented, ranging from typical foods and drinks to traditional clothing and flags, and from figures from national television shows for children to tourist brochures.
Roma students get together with their other Roma fellow and planed a booth at the bazaar where their CEU colleagues could learn about interesting aspects of Roma culture.
Sarma, tavce gravce, home made bread (bokoli) or meatballs were some of the “local foods” visitors enjoyed. The stand had also small Roma flags, presentation of famous Roma , pictures and other Roma related materials and of course the fully colored traditional Roma costumes fit perfectly to our intellectual Roma girls. On the stage Roma students did their best in singing and dancing (See video), making people enjoy and give them a round of applause!
Besides building a young Roma elite, the long-term goal of RAP is to prepare young, outstanding Roma students to conduct local and international academic and advocacy work and to serve as role models and leaders for the Roma community overall. RAPs alumni proved that these goals are achievable, most of them are working for the Roma cause, some are working in international organizations, others are traineeships in European institution, other continued their studies at prestigious universities and some others became to work for the CEU Roma programs as manger or coordinator.
We hope that such as insight at the above article will strongly encourage Roma university graduates to apply for these programs and make the most of them!
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