My first day of teaching at the Kyiv National University of Culture and Arts, where I taught the class «Race, Ethnicity, Gender in World Cinema» in fall 2004, was especially memorable and gratifying. It was September 11, a day America and the world could not forget, but it was also near the centennial of the birthday of Alexander Dovzhenko, the greatest Ukrainian filmmaker, whom some people would like to call the «Griffith of Ukraine.» The Director of the
from these events and learned quite a bit about pressing issues facing the country.
Department, also an active film director, attended my first lecture, after which the faculty of the department hosted a small party to welcome me as well as to commemorate Dovzhenko’s birthday.
Ukraine is a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural country. Although Kyiv is the political center of the country, traveling within Ukraine is important for understanding the various facets of Ukrainian culture, history, and politics. I joined a trip to Kharkiv in the east organized by the Fulbright Program to introduce the program to students and scholars in that city. On our way to Kharkiv, we stopped in Poltava, which once played a pivotal role in Ukraine’s history: It was the site of the decisive Battle of Poltava between Peter I on one side and Mazepa and his ally the Swedish King Charles on the other. Kharkiv, too, is historically important, because it was once the capital of Ukraine.
Beyond my official affiliation, I actively explored additional teaching venues. One such place was the Center for Chinese Literature and Language at the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv. The university has a flourishing Chinese studies program with a high-quality and dedicated faculty. Some of the teachers invited me to teach and screen Chinese films in a Chinese-language class. I had brought with me from the United States dozens of DVDs of world films, American films, and Chinese films, so I screened films from my Chinese collection for that class during most of the fall semester of 2004. I also visited and lectured at other places: the Department of Oriental Philology at Kyiv International University; the Philology Department of the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, which had extremely bright students who spoke fluent English. I had the pleasure of introducing and screening Chinese films at the university’s thriving Kino Club. I forged strong relationships with some institutions, and cherished my friendship with Ukrainian colleagues. Before I left Ukraine, I gave them books that I had brought from the United States on world cinema, American cinema, Chinese cinema, cultural theory, globalization studies, and other topics. The Kyiv Fulbright Office organized numerous large and small conferences, seminars, and gatherings. These were very informative and useful venues, and I attended as many of these events as I could. I benefited enormously
Life in Kyiv can be very interesting. It is a city of beautiful parks and gardens, historic churches, wonderful museums of all kinds, and inexpensive but high-quality performances of classical opera, ballet, and instrumental music. Each of the four seasons has its own charms. Autumn leaves and spring flowers are breathtakingly beautiful. My favorite places were the Taras Shevchenko Park, the old and new Botanical Gardens, and Volodymyr Hill. Take a stroll in these places in fall or spring, and your senses will be stimulated and your mind soothed by the beauty of the city. My apartment was one block from the Taras Shevschenko Park as well as the central campus of the Taras Shevschenko National University of Kyiv. It was also a 20-minute walk to the National Opera. The Opera features ballets and operas just about every day of the week except Monday. I enjoyed many excellent performances at the Opera. Never before had I attended so many operas and ballets: La Boheme, Madame Butterfly, Turandot, Nabucco, and so on. I highly recommend that future Fulbrighters take advantage of this great opportunity to re-educate yourself about these classics that you could have missed in the United States unless you live next door to the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
I toured Kherson and Odesa in the south. As a film scholar, I was thrilled to see the real Potemkin Steps in Odesa that were immortalized by Eisenstein’s film. I visited Lviv. For a long time the regional capital of the AustroHungarian Empire Lviv has beautiful, classical architecture not seen in other parts of Ukraine. I also paid homage to a little town, Boyarka, 23 kilometers from Kyiv. I went there because it had a museum in honor of Mykola Ostrvosky, who wrote How Steel was Made in the 1930s. He was an important figure in Soviet literary culture and communist education. The novel has been translated into dozens of languages. Its influence is felt in numerous countries, particularly in socialist China. The regional differences within Ukraine make the country a diverse and colorful place. The west, east, and south all have unique local characteristics, reflecting the ethnic, political, and geographic make-up of Ukraine. These very
Published on Jun 18, 2006
Published on Jun 18, 2006
The 2005 Yearbook includes a short description of projects for this year by Ukrainian and American Fulbright scholars, which will be useful...