Deadline for applications to Romani Studies at Charles University is the end of February
"The Romani people cannot be reduced to just dance, music or social problems. We defend ourselves against such a stereotypical view of them in Romani Studies and we try to pass that on to our students," says Helena Sadílková, head of the Romani Studies Seminar at the Faculty of Arts at Charles University in Prague, in an interview for ROMEA TV.
For 30 years now, students have been able to study the rules of the Romanes language, including the basics of Vlax Romanes, and the history of Romani people in Czechoslovakia and Europe at the oldest university in the Czech Republic through the Romani Studies Seminar, a unique field of university study being taught in the Czech Republic and worldwide that was established at Charles in 1991 by the late Milena Hübschmannová. This field is open to applicants this year as well, and those interested can submit their applications by the end of February.
Romani Studies can be studied either as a stand-alone field or in combination with any other field at the Faculty of Arts, which facilitates such combined studies. According to the head of the seminar, college graduates who earn a Bachelor's in Romani Studies will find a broad range of applications for it due to the timeliness of Romani-related subject matter and the lack of qualified Romani Studies scholars, among other reasons.
"A large part of our graduates, of whom there are hundreds by now, work in the nonprofit sector. That reflects the current situation in Czech society, after all, because it is exactly nonprofit organizations that are involved with Roma-related issues in practice, to the greatest extent," Sadílková tells ROMEA TV.
"In addition, our graduates working at local authorities, but they are also successful publicists or documentarians. Unfortunately, few graduates remain in academia so they could augment our team, for example," the head of the seminar admits.
Sadílková herself has an almost perfect mastery of the Romanes language. "It's my working language, I have been learning to speak it since 1996," she tells ROMEA TV.
"Sometimes Romani people are startled to hear that I know how to speak their language. Especially when they see what I look like," she notes.
The Romanes language is one of the main pillars of Romani Studies at the Faculty of Arts. "We require our graduates to speak Romanes fluently and to master its grammar," the seminar head emphasizes.
"For the last couple of years we have also been inviting native speakers to our classes so our students have had a unique opportunity to converse in Romanes and have been immersed in the language as much as possible," she says. Some of the graduates in Romani Studies from Charles University include, for example, Renata Berkyová, who is a research staffer at the Institute for Contemporary History of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic; David Tišer, an activist and director of the ARA ART organization; Saša Uhlová, a journalist; Lukáš Houdek, coordinator of the Czech Government's HateFree Culture initiative, who is also a documentarist; Rozálie Kohoutová, a documentarist; and Michal Mižigár, a recent winner of the Aspen Central Europe Leadership Award given to sucessful young leaders by the Aspen Institute Central Europe.
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