Thursday, June 02, 2011

Ukrainian Studies

Oops, I meant area studies.

Okay, today was actually not THAT bad. Our speaker, from the National Committee on Soviet Jewry, talked a bit about what his organization was doing (and how they really wish they had a different name, since there is no longer a Soviet Union, but that with their group's name recognition, they were advised not to change it...branding and all).

He did talk a good bit about Ukraine, and again I am thankful that at least it is on a country some of us are going to.

And he did at least mention the other countries.

Still, I find myself annoyed that we have three weeks left of area studies and I feel I have learned so much about Ukraine, a bit about Poland and substantially less about the Balts. Or NATO. Or the EU (we did get that one lecture on the history of the EU...I think we made it to about 1936...not much on what is currently going on).

Meanwhile, interesting things are going on in the Balts. Estonia had elections, interesting elections that demonstrated how stable the government is despite their austerity measures. They have also transitioned to the Euro, and yet with all the change and all the world economic crises, their economy has suffered less than others. I know about this stuff because I read the news, not because area studies has taught me anything. And then there is Latvia. Their President DISSOLVED parliament this week and then lost his election. Good stuff...not a peep about it in area studies.

Next week, we will have break out sessions. These are good in theory, but more often than not, for us, they mean the Balts and Poland together in a session while Ukraine's folks go someplace interesting. For our break out, we will have the same speaker we have had for at least three other lectures (all but one were breakouts I think). He is great, and really knowledgeable, but seriously. Is he the only person who can talk about the Balts?

One good thing wife will be coming with him this time. So at least I get an afternoon with her out of it!

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