This semester, the Readers College program at Hobart and William Smith Colleges is offering a cultural prep course on Central Europe. Taught by Professor of Education Charles Temple, “Central Europe: An Orientation,” is a half-credit course intended to prepare the 14 HWS students traveling to the region this summer.
Created by various faculty and staff members, Readers College courses are a unique way to meet new friends and discuss the readings of a specific topic, while earning a half credit.
This course on Central Europe focuses on information not often covered in general history courses and is unique among Readers College courses in that it will prepare students for a summer program. “One surprising and somewhat painful experience reported by most American visitors to Central and Eastern Europe is that our hosts know a great deal about us, and react with resigned irritation when it turns out that we know next to nothing about them,” says Temple.
Temple is a founder of the HWS semester-long Central Europe program, and last led the trip in 2005. He has lived and worked extensively in the region and has taught in the Faculty of Political Science and the School of Education and Psychology at Babes Bolyai University.
“This Readers College will be an enjoyable way for the students to learn about a remarkable part of the world that, until recently, wasn’t much mentioned in American education,” says Temple. Also contributing their expertise to the course are: Doug Reilly, director of the Center for Global Education; Gabi Mrvova, director of Self Instructional Languages; Jim Capreedy, assistant professor of classics; Mihaela Petrescu, assistant professor of German; and George Joseph, professor of French and Francophone Studies.
Throughout the 11 weekly sessions, students will read and discuss writings concerning Hungary and Romania, along with authors who are products of these regions. The group also will have the chance to experiment with Romanian and Hungarian cooking, and learn a few useful phrases from the Hungarian and Romanian languages.
“Part of the reason I applied to this program was due to the fact that I know the least about this area compared to other parts of Europe. This prep course is a great way to get oriented before we arrive in Budapest this summer,” said sophomore Kaylyn O’Brien. “Professor Temple welcomed us into his home to enjoy a group dinner for the first class meeting. It quickly became evident that this is a great group of people that are sure to make this trip pretty unforgettable.”
The summer program takes place in June and lasts for three weeks. Students will travel to Budapest, Hungary and Cluj, Romania. While in Budapest, students will have the opportunity to discover the country’s history, exploring the city as well as nearby villages along the Danube, one of Europe’s longest rivers. The second and third weeks of the program will be based in Romania, where the group will be hosted by Babes Bolyai University in Cluj. While there, the past of Romania will be traced through trips to Roman ruins, a Roma community, and to the center of what remains of the German population of Romania, a group featured in the novels of Romanian-born German Herta Muller. Muller won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2009.