RUSYN SCHOOLS IN SUBCARPATHIAN RUS’ – 10 YEARS!
A grand celebration marking 10 years of special educational and cultural opportunities for Rusyn children in Ukraine was held in Mukachevo, Subcarpathian Rus’, on April 20. The Rusyn heritage school, or “Sunday school,” program educates between 500 and 700 children each year in Carpatho-Rusyn history, culture, and language.
The schools are mainly located in Rusyn-inhabited villages and larger towns where parents have requested them and where qualified teachers are available to run the program locally. The classes, held on Sundays, and with strictly voluntary enrollment, have generally been able to use local public school facilities, but are not funded or recognized by the Ministry of Education of Ukraine.
The schools have been funded in large part from North America: the primary donors have been Steven Chepa of Toronto, Canada, head of the World Academy of Carpatho-Rusyn Culture; Stefan Moldovan of Ottawa, Canada, a native of Svaliava in Subcarpathian Rus’; and the Carpatho-Rusyn Society based in Munhall, Pennsylvania, via numerous donations from its members. The initiative for the creation of the schools came from Professor Paul R. Magocsi of the University of Toronto, with organizational work and leadership by the late Vasyl’ Sarkanych of Svaliava and Valerii Padiak of Uzhhorod. Padiak continues this work to the present day as head of the registered non-profit organization “Rusyns’ka Shkola” [Rusyn School] that runs the program throughout Subcarpathian Rus’ (the Zakarpatska Oblast of Ukraine).
The continued existence of these schools is very important because not being recognized as a distinct nationality by Ukraine, Rusyns have not been eligible for state funding for education in their own language, history, and culture as are the recognized national minorities. (Among these are Hungarians, Slovaks, Germans, Greeks, Armenians, Crimean Tatars, and Romanians.)
At present, 23 such Rusyn Sunday schools are operating, but over the 10 years of the program, a total of 40 schools were established in various places in Subcarpathian Rus’. The currently-operating schools, and their teachers, include the following:
- Mukachevo (meeting at Public School No. 4), Mariia Lendiel
- Mukachevo (meeting at Public School No. 6), Anna Pokhylets’
- Mukachevo (meeting at Public School No. 20), Vira Iatsura
- Barbovo, Anna Sidei
- Bobovyshchi, Mariia Danashovs’ka
- Bushtyno, Anna Svyd and Halyna Seriuha
- Chynadiievo-Hrabovnytsia, Nataliia Khaliavka
- Il’nytsia, Mariia Boiko and Antonina Popovych
- Lalovo, Ol’ga Bonkalo
- Makar’ovo, Nadiia Pechora and Mariia Popovych
- Malŷi Bereznŷi, Liubov Holovanenko and Liubov Khalakhan
- Malŷi Rakovets’, Iana Bezega
- Osui, Mariia Magurs’ka
- Rus’ki Komarovtsi, Viktoriia Hrabovs’ka
- Stanovo, Mariia Delegan
- Velykŷi Bereznŷi, Oksana Shelepets’
- Vŷshnyi Koropets’, Nadiia Kalynych and Nataliia Tsibere
- Zolotar’ovo, Nataliia Haidur
During the celebration in Mukachevo’s Cultural Center, all the teachers received certificates of appreciation and valuable gifts which were presented by Steven Chepa and Professor Magocsi. The program also included a concert of Carpatho-Rusyn folk ensembles from Subcarpathian Rus’ (including an ensemble from the school in Il’nytsia), recital of Rusyn poetry by award-winning students, the debut of four new Rusyn school books, and an exhibit of portraits of Rusyn leaders through history painted by noted Rusyn artist Vasyl’ Skakandii. It concluded with the presentation of the Saints Cyril and Methodius Prize—a medal inscribed “For the Revival of the Rusyn Language”—to Nadiia Pechora, teacher in Makar’ovo and author of the textbook Rusyns’kŷi iazŷk [The Rusyn Language], and Valerii Padiak, publisher of numerous Rusyn-language books, head of the Rusyns’ka Shkola organization, and author of the textbook Literaturnŷi koshychok [A Basket of Literature].
(Photo: Vitalii Mukha)
Guests included Rusyn activists, academics, and journalists from Ukraine, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland, and from North America, Mr. Chepa, Prof. Magocsi, and Slavomir Hirjak (Prešov, Slovakia/Toronto, Canada), the North American representative on the World Council of Rusyns.
(Source: New Rusyn Times, Munhall, Pa.; thanks to Valerii Padiak)
A local television news story covering the celebration, with interviews with teachers, sponsors, organizers, and Prof. Magocsi, and footage of students singing and reciting poetry, all in Rusyn: