Czech Republic: Romani Studies Seminar taking applications at Charles University
While there are at least 10 million Romani people in Europe, there is just one university program in the Czech Republic focused on Romani art, culture, history and the Romanes language. The Romani Studies Seminar is offered by the Department of Central European Studies at the Faculty of Arts of Charles University in Prague.
"Some universities in our country and elsewhere in the world offer basic Romanes language courses, or introductions to the real life of Romani people, drawing extensively from Romani Studies research when they teach these subjects. However, at the Romani Studies department in Prague, students will perfectly master the Romanes language. They will also have the room and the time set aside in the curriculum to comprehend Romani culture and history in a broader context under the direction of educators who have long dedicated themselves to these subjects," program head Helena Sadílková, who teaches history courses in addition to language courses for the seminar, told news server Romea.cz.
"Romani Studies is a small specialization. The students from various years of their degree programs all know each other and are in lively contact with the instructors, including outside of lectures. The instructors work on research of different kinds in addition to their teaching, and the students have the opportunity to participate in that research under their direction. During my studies I was able to meet Romani people in the Czech Republic, England, Poland and Slovakia," said Romani Studies graduate Jan Ort, who is currently on a study abroad stay in the anthropology department in Durham, England.
Romani students are also enrolled in Romani Studies. "Romani people themselves are also showing an interest in this field. Their personal experiences are always an enrichment to the instruction, and contact with them is important for the non-Romani students. We believe that our field is beneficial for Romani people themselves," said Michael Beníšek, who has combined Indology with Romani Studies and is comparing Indian languages and Romanes.
Charles University students are able to combine Romani Studies with any other field offered by the Faculty of Arts in Prague. "In Romani Studies, Romani people are not primarily conceived of as a social problem, the scholars do their best to take a much broader view than that. Even though I myself am Romani, I learned many new things during my first year of study," said Iveta Kokyová, an author and social worker who is combining her studies with work.
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