The Eastern European Focus Week (9 -15 November 2015) was organized by a group of UWC Atlantic College students through Global Faculty. I had the idea to organise national focus weeks last year because we have lots of different national groups coming from similar geographical or cultural areas. One of them are the Eastern Europeans. The group has more than 20 representatives from countries such as Armenia, Russia, Hungary, Georgia, Ukraine, Albania, Romania, Bulgaria etc. All national groups annually organize their National Evening, which gives them an opportunity to represent their culture, history and make a fun hour for the audience. This year Eastern Europeans wanted to show a lot more and just an hour would not have been enough to do so.
During the Focus Week we had various workshops. We started the week with the ‘Eastern Europe ab initio’ workshop, where we talked about this region, shared interesting facts and answered questions of the participants. Then the Russian students of the college organized a Russian Language Teaching workshop. During the unique ‘Weddings in Eastern Europe’ workshop, Lika from Georgia and myself (Hakob from Armenia) organized a theatrical performance of a wedding ceremony representing the rich traditions of the Caucasus region. The wedding was very well attended and the audience had a great time.
One of the highlights of the week was the dance workshop where teachers and students learnt to dance from Denys and Masha from Ukraine. At other times we talked about conflicts in Eastern Europe and watched movies about Stalingrad, the Armenian Genocide, the Chernobyl Disaster and the 1956 revolution in Hungary.
The college canteen served Eastern European food during the week and some of the students also cooked national dishes during their open-house night. We placed lots of posters around the campus throughout the week aiming to break the stereotypes about Eastern Europe. We also organized exhibitions about our national costumes, landscapes and demographics.
I can say that the Focus Week was very successful confirmed by the positive responses by students and staff. I am really happy that we had the opportunity to organize this focus week and represent our rich and not so well-known culture for UWC Atlantic College. I would like to thank staff members Kate Vincze (from Hungary) and Hana Le Cam for helping us to put our region under the college spotlight.
Hakob Parsamyan, Class of 2016, from Armenia