On July 13, 2020, there was opening of the International Summer School of Ukrainian Studies «Step to Ukraine». This is the 13th School hosted by the International Institute of Education, Culture and Diaspora Relations, Lviv Polytechnic National University (IECDR), but it is special because for the first time it is online. Organizers, teachers and students from Argentina, Brazil, Germany, Spain, Poland, Russia and Romania took part in the opening. The guests of honour were Askold Lozynsky, President of the Ukrainian World Congress (UWC) in 1998–2008, Yurii Danylyshyn, UWC Regional Vice President, Head of the Ukrainian Cultural Association Prosvita in Argentina, and Roman Danylyshyn, Director of the Ukrainian School at the Ukrainian Cultural Association Prosvita in Argentina.
The school program includes a two-week intensive course on learning Ukrainian as a foreign language (July 13–26), which consists of language classes, conversational practice with native speakers and discussion clubs with celebrities.
Before the beginning of the School, teachers conducted testing and oral interviews with all students to determine their level of proficiency in the Ukrainian language and, according to the results, formed 7 groups that work in the morning and afternoon. For effective training, groups are small – up to four people each. The Summer School also has an option – individual training. Upon completion of the School, each of its students will receive a Certificate of Completion.
Iryna Kliuchkovska, Director of IECDR and founder of the Summer School of Ukrainian Studies «Step to Ukraine», greeted everyone at the beginning of their studies, told about the educational projects of the International Institute of Education, Culture and Diaspora Relations, including the development of teaching materials for learning Ukrainian as a foreign language, plans to hold the Winter School online, and expressed the hope that soon it would be possible for school students to come to Lviv and plunge into a wonderful atmosphere of the ancient and, at the same time, modern city.
«Why are you all, our dear students, important to us? First of all, because we do appreciate your interest in the language of our people. For us, you are the ambassadors of Ukraine in your countries. I really hope that at school you will not only improve your knowledge of the Ukrainian language, but get to know our wonderful country better and will always be our great friends,» said Iryna Kliuchkovska in her speech.
Olia Rusnak, this year’s school coordinator, introduced the school’s teachers, including IECDR researchers, PhDs, academic staff of Lviv Polytechnic, authors of textbooks on Ukrainian as a foreign language, and those who have experience teaching Ukrainian in other countries, including Kazakhstan and Bulgaria.
Olia Rusnak said that the participants of this year’s school are people of different ages, professions and interests, with different basic knowledge of the language and purpose of learning: «Each student has his own motivation: to talk Ukrainian to Dad, living in his country, to travel to Ukraine, to continue studies here, to have the opportunity to carry out their mobility activity in an international academic mobility programme or to surprise the groom from Ukraine».
At the School opening the students were addressed by their teachers. Oksana Horda wished that «participation in the Summer School «Step to Ukraine» would be a successful investment for students in learning the Ukrainian language, deepening the knowledge in this discipline, learning about culture, as well as a successful investment in memories and impressions that will remain after it and, of course, investment in new friends at school».
The students also practiced their Ukrainian language at the School opening. Stanislaw Orszulak, a student from Poland, told about his experience of learning the Ukrainian language at the IECDR Summer School, in which he is participating for the second time: «When I was at the Summer School for the first time, I really liked it. It is a pity that we did not manage to meet in Lviv this year, but I think this year’s school will be even more successful».
A pleasant surprise for the organizers was that a film director from Brazil, whose film was presented by IECDR in Lviv more than 10 years ago, Guto Pashko, registered for the school. At the opening, he said he wanted to learn modern language, because his language «is the old language, the language of the first emigration to Brazil, the language of his grandparents who came here 126 years ago.»
At the opening of the School, guests of honour, students and teachers wanted to chat more, but the work in groups was about to start soon, so with the wishes of meaningful communication and improvement of their knowledge of the Ukrainian language, school participants went to virtual classrooms, where they would study for two more weeks.