Jan Karski, an extraordinary ordinary man

Jan Karski (Łódź, 1914 – Washington, July 2000), born as Jan Kozielewski, was a Polish reserve officer and a junior diplomat who served the Polish Army and then joined the Polish Underground resistance, where his mission was to inform the West and the Polish government-in-exile about the situation in Poland during the Nazi occupation. When he found out about the horrors of the Holocaust, he committed his life to inform the world about it. On 1982 he was awarded the distinction Righteous Among the Nations.

Jan Karski born in a Roman Catholic family and was the youngest of eight children. His

Karski

source: Jan Karski, http://www.yadvashem.org

hometown, Łódź, was an industrial city in the heart of Poland, populated by Polish Catholics, Germans, Russians, and 233,000 Jews before the Second World War. He studied law and diplomacy at the University of Lwów and trained as an artilleryman in the Polish army. Following his studies, he started his career in the Polish diplomatic corps. On September 1939, when both Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia began their invasion of Poland from the western and the eastern front, Jan Karski was serving the Polish Army. While he served at the Polish base at Oświȩcim – where few years later would have been built the Auschwitz death camp – the German troops’ attack forced the Polish unit to find shelter in the hinterland. Moving in the eastern territories of the country, the Polish soldiers encountered unexpectedly the Red Army. After being disarmed, together with Polish officers, policemen, and prominent citizens, Jan Karski and the unit he served was sent by the Soviet army to a detention camp now in the Ukrainian territory. Soviet NKVD’s plan was to release the enlisted men, while all the Polish officers and citizens with political past would have been killed in mass shootings, known as the Katyń massacres. However, Karski managed to survive presenting himself as a Private from Łódź. The Soviets believed his story and sent him to Łódź, that in the meanwhile had fallen under German rule. At first, Germans transferred him to Radom, in a POW camp, then, while on a train to reach another camp, he escaped.  He reached Warsaw where he found his older brother, Marian, who introduced him to the Polish Underground Resistance. The representatives of the Polish Underground immediately noticed Karski for his incredible capacity of analysis, his memory, and his loyalty to the cause, and entrusted him with numerous missions to the Polish government-in-exile as a messenger. It was precisely during one of these missions in those territories of Poland under Nazi-occupation, that he found out that mass deportations were taking place. His role of messenger gave him also the possibility to have several important contacts in the major Polish political movements which, in agreement with the Polish government-in-exile, created an Underground state – that in future would have a central role in the formation of a democratic Poland-. However, his brother and other collaborators were arrested and sent to Auschwitz, while he was caught and tortured by the Gestapo few months later. He tried to commit suicide because he was afraid that, under the tortures of the Gestapo, he would have been able to reveal some secret information. Sent to an hospital in a Slovak city, he managed to escape helped by the Underground.

In 1942, the Underground requested Karski to travel to London – where the Polish government-in-exile was transferred – and report as much information as possible about the atrocities committed by Nazis in Poland, especially against the Jews. Karski infiltrated the Warsaw ghetto, were he knew that about 450,000 Jews were living in inhumane conditions; as he wrote in his memoir: “Everyone and everything seemed to vibrate with unnatural intensity, to be in constant motion, enveloped in a haze of disease and death through which their bodies appeared to be throbbing in disintegration”. During his mission, he met Leon Feiner, a Jewish leader, and Menachem Kirschenbaum, a Zionist, who explained him the Nazi’s plan to exterminate the Jewish population. Both men pled him to inform and ask for help to the Allies. On July 22, 1942, the Nazis started to liquidate the ghetto. Then he visited the transit camp at Izbica, and could even document the transport of Jews to the killing center in Belzec. In October, Karski reached London, where he communicated to Polish Prime Minister Sikorski and President what he saw during his several missions to the ghetto and Nazi camps. Even the Vatican was then informed by Polish diplomats, with no results. Other authorities were contacted by Karski, such as British Foreign Minister Anthony Eden, Winston Churchill, and in July 1943 he met in Washington with American President Franklin D. Roosevelt, but both parties remained indifferent – or even did not believe –  to him. As Karski wrote in his account, the American President seemed to be more interested in the internal organization of the Polish Underground, how it managed to secretly communicate with the Polish government in France and then in London, and the condition of horses in Poland, completely underestimating what Karski reported on the situation of the Polish Jews. While in Washington, Karski met the Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter as well, who replied to his account saying that: ‘Mr. Karski, a man like me talking to a man like you must be totally frank. So I must say: I am unable to believe in what I have just heard, in all the things that you have just told me.’

After all these appearances, the Germans most likely had identified Karski as secret courier of the Polish Underground, and therefore he decided to remain in the United States. At the end of 1944, he wrote his first book, Story of a Secret State, in which he described the situation of Jews in Poland and his missions with the Polish underground organization. Unexpectedly, the book became a best-seller. In his book, as during his communications, Karski continued to remark the extraordinary nature of the Holocaust, claiming that ‘never in the history of mankind, never anywhere in the realm of human relations did anything occur to compare with what was inflicted on the Jewish population of Poland’.

When the war ended, the Soviet propaganda depicted Jan Karski as an anti-Semite – probably because of his attempts to inform the American Jews of the dangers of the Soviet domination in Poland and other parts of eastern Europe -, making him only a marginal figure of the Second World War.

During the Cold War, Karski decided to remain in the United States, where he completed his Ph.D. studies at the Georgetown University. After that, he will work for 40 years as a professor in the School of Foreign Service, where he previously studied.

In 1982, Karski received from the Yad Vashem the title of a Righteous Among the Nations. In 1994, the Israeli government, such as his Polish hometown, Łódź, declared him an Honorary Citizen. For the help and courage demonstrated by him for the Polish cause during the war, Karski received from the Polish government two high honors, the Order of the White Eagle and the Virtuti Militari. After his death in Washington, on July 2000, his life continues to be celebrated; on 2012, American President Barack Obama awarded Karski of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest American civilian honor.

Despite the attempts of the Communist propaganda to make Jan Karski disappear from the memory of the war and the Holocaust, his works for the Polish-Jewish reconciliation and the recognition of the Nazi crimes against Jews are still remembered and celebrated. Jan Karski is not only one of the numerous Poles who helped the Jews during the Holocaust, he is the man who risked his life to publicly denounce the extreme situation in the Jewish ghettos and death camps and after that the indifference of the Allies. As Kozlowski, his biographer, recalled: ‘There could hardly be another person who felt more deeply, painfully, and bitterly the expedient abandonment of Poland by the Allies in World War II. Jan Karski was a man who, tragically, had to feel that his own prodigious efforts on behalf of the Jews of Europe – and on behalf of his briefly independent native land – were an utter failure. Regarded as a hero in both Poland and Israel, his was a  heroism not of triumphs but of extraordinary integrity and courage’.

Jan Karski surely played a central role in the history of Poland, and his book is the proof of how powerful can be the voice of a single man.

Veronica Pagnani

MA in Central and Eastern European Studies

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Jan Karski, an extraordinary ordinary man

Jan Karski (Łódź, 1914 – Washington, July 2000), born as Jan Kozielewski, was a Polish reserve officer and a junior diplomat who served the Polish Army and then joined the Polish Underground resistance, where his mission was to inform the West and the Polish government-in-exile about the situation in Poland during the Nazi occupation. When he found out about the horrors of the Holocaust, he committed his life to inform the world about it. On 1982 he was awarded the distinction Righteous Among the Nations.

Jan Karski born in a Roman Catholic family and was the youngest of eight children. His

Karski

Source: Jan Karski, http://www.yadvashem.org

hometown, Łódź, was an industrial city in the heart of Poland, populated by Polish Catholics, Germans, Russians, and 233,000 Jews before the Second World War. He studied law and diplomacy at the University of Lwów and trained as an artilleryman in the Polish army. Following his studies, he started his career in the Polish diplomatic corps. On September 1939, when both Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia began their invasion of Poland from the western and the eastern front, Jan Karski was serving the Polish Army. While he served at the Polish base at Oświȩcim – where few years later would have been built the Auschwitz death camp – the German troops’ attack forced the Polish unit to find shelter in the hinterland. Moving in the eastern territories of the country, the Polish soldiers encountered unexpectedly the Red Army. After being disarmed, together with Polish officers, policemen, and prominent citizens, Jan Karski and the unit he served was sent by the Soviet army to a detention camp now in the Ukrainian territory. Soviet NKVD’s plan was to release the enlisted men, while all the Polish officers and citizens with political past would have been killed in mass shootings, known as the Katyń massacres. However, Karski managed to survive presenting himself as a Private from Łódź. The Soviets believed his story and sent him to Łódź, that in the meanwhile had fallen under German rule. At first, Germans transferred him to Radom, in a POW camp, then, while on a train to reach another camp, he escaped.  He reached Warsaw where he found his older brother, Marian, who introduced him to the Polish Underground Resistance. The representatives of the Polish Underground immediately noticed Karski for his incredible capacity of analysis, his memory, and his loyalty to the cause, and entrusted him with numerous missions to the Polish government-in-exile as a messenger. It was precisely during one of these missions in those territories of Poland under Nazi-occupation, that he found out that mass deportations were taking place. His role of messenger gave him also the possibility to have several important contacts in the major Polish political movements which, in agreement with the Polish government-in-exile, created an Underground state – that in future would have a central role in the formation of a democratic Poland-. However, his brother and other collaborators were arrested and sent to Auschwitz, while he was caught and tortured by the Gestapo few months later. He tried to commit suicide because he was afraid that, under the tortures of the Gestapo, he would have been able to reveal some secret information. Sent to an hospital in a Slovak city, he managed to escape helped by the Underground.

In 1942, the Underground requested Karski to travel to London – where the Polish government-in-exile was transferred – and report as much information as possible about the atrocities committed by Nazis in Poland, especially against the Jews. Karski infiltrated the Warsaw ghetto, were he knew that about 450,000 Jews were living in inhumane conditions; as he wrote in his memoir: “Everyone and everything seemed to vibrate with unnatural intensity, to be in constant motion, enveloped in a haze of disease and death through which their bodies appeared to be throbbing in disintegration”. During his mission, he met Leon Feiner, a Jewish leader, and Menachem Kirschenbaum, a Zionist, who explained him the Nazi’s plan to exterminate the Jewish population. Both men pled him to inform and ask for help to the Allies. On July 22, 1942, the Nazis started to liquidate the ghetto. Then he visited the transit camp at Izbica, and could even document the transport of Jews to the killing center in Belzec. In October, Karski reached London, where he communicated to Polish Prime Minister Sikorski and President what he saw during his several missions to the ghetto and Nazi camps. Even the Vatican was then informed by Polish diplomats, with no results. Other authorities were contacted by Karski, such as British Foreign Minister Anthony Eden, Winston Churchill, and in July 1943 he met in Washington with American President Franklin D. Roosevelt, but both parties remained indifferent – or even did not believe –  to him. As Karski wrote in his account, the American President seemed to be more interested in the internal organization of the Polish Underground, how it managed to secretly communicate with the Polish government in France and then in London, and the condition of horses in Poland, completely underestimating what Karski reported on the situation of the Polish Jews. While in Washington, Karski met the Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter as well, who replied to his account saying that: ‘Mr. Karski, a man like me talking to a man like you must be totally frank. So I must say: I am unable to believe in what I have just heard, in all the things that you have just told me.’

After all these appearances, the Germans most likely had identified Karski as secret courier of the Polish Underground, and therefore he decided to remain in the United States. At the end of 1944, he wrote his first book, Story of a Secret State, in which he described the situation of Jews in Poland and his missions with the Polish underground organization. Unexpectedly, the book became a best-seller. In his book, as during his communications, Karski continued to remark the extraordinary nature of the Holocaust, claiming that ‘never in the history of mankind, never anywhere in the realm of human relations did anything occur to compare with what was inflicted on the Jewish population of Poland’.

When the war ended, the Soviet propaganda depicted Jan Karski as an anti-Semite – probably because of his attempts to inform the American Jews of the dangers of the Soviet domination in Poland and other parts of eastern Europe -, making him only a marginal figure of the Second World War.

During the Cold War, Karski decided to remain in the United States, where he completed his Ph.D. studies at the Georgetown University. After that, he will work for 40 years as a professor in the School of Foreign Service, where he previously studied.

In 1982, Karski received from the Yad Vashem the title of a Righteous Among the Nations. In 1994, the Israeli government, such as his Polish hometown, Łódź, declared him an Honorary Citizen. For the help and courage demonstrated by him for the Polish cause during the war, Karski received from the Polish government two high honors, the Order of the White Eagle and the Virtuti Militari. After his death in Washington, on July 2000, his life continues to be celebrated; on 2012, American President Barack Obama awarded Karski of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest American civilian honor.

Despite the attempts of the Communist propaganda to make Jan Karski disappear from the memory of the war and the Holocaust, his works for the Polish-Jewish reconciliation and the recognition of the Nazi crimes against Jews are still remembered and celebrated. Jan Karski is not only one of the numerous Poles who helped the Jews during the Holocaust, he is the man who risked his life to publicly denounce the extreme situation in the Jewish ghettos and death camps and after that the indifference of the Allies. As Kozlowski, his biographer, recalled: ‘There could hardly be another person who felt more deeply, painfully, and bitterly the expedient abandonment of Poland by the Allies in World War II. Jan Karski was a man who, tragically, had to feel that his own prodigious efforts on behalf of the Jews of Europe – and on behalf of his briefly independent native land – were an utter failure. Regarded as a hero in both Poland and Israel, his was a  heroism not of triumphs but of extraordinary integrity and courage’.

Jan Karski surely played a central role in the history of Poland, and his book is the proof of how powerful can be the voice of a single man.

 

Veronica Pagnani

MA in Central and Eastern European Studies

How CES visited Frontex…

Last week visit to Frontex was organized by CES student, Aurélien Pommier in his capacity as an Ambassador to Poland for the European Student Think Tank (EST). Aurlienne is a 1st year MA student of the Polish-French double degree programme with the Institut d’Etudes Politiques at the University of Strasbourg. 

Below are his thoughts, impressions and ideas on Frontex as an agency that plays central role in resolving some of recent crisis in Europe and what recent changes mean for it’s activities. 

On Friday 17th of March, a group of 20 students visited the European Border and Coast Guard Agency. Among the group, the majority (12 students) was from the Centre for European Studies –CES– of Jagiellonian University.

This visit to Frontex was organised to acquire a better knowledge of this European Agency which has a growing importance, especially since the migration crisis.

As scheduled, we were received in the Frontex building (Plac Europejski 6, Warsaw) at 11: am and accompanied in a conference room of the agency. Frontex 2

Krzysztof Borowski, Public Relations officer at Frontex, held the presentation. This presentation covered several topics as the new regulation of October 2016 and the related new mandate and powers for the agency, but also the joint operations currently in action (Triton and Poseidon) and the principles migrations routes to Europe. A special attention was made to the creation of a rapid reaction pool of 1500 agents deployable within 5 days to react in case of emergency and to the role of Fundamental Rights during Frontex operations. This presentation was a very good insight into the role of Frontex as the cooperation platform between Member States regarding management and monitoring of external borders of the Union.

The session was following by a presentation of videos aiming to make us understand the reality in the field, especially regarding the danger that migrants undergo during their attempt to reach the European Union. Part of the video was quite harsh, but represent the reality known by coast guards.

Finally, a large room was left to questions and answers, but that was just enough to answer all interesting questions raised by students. This question answers session bring us on the topic of EU/Turkey statement and its danger today, the new intervention capacity of Frontex, but also the everyday life of an employee of Frontex, as some students showed an interest in job opportunities proposed by the Agency. Our host uses this interest to point out that the Frontex agency planned to extend in the following years and that more and more job opportunities will be offer. However, possibilities of internship are highly competitive.

At the end, some booklets about the agency were offered as well as Frontex’s notebooks and pencils.

This presentation of the Agency was very interesting in the sense that it gave us a real insight in the operations of Frontex and also taught us that Frontex as such has no real initiative, as all rely on the cooperation of Member States. However, the new regulation about the Agency tried to provide more autonomy and power, by the possibility of buy and lease their own materials and this rapid reaction pool in case of emergency situation. To sum up, Frontex was provided with more tools and means to tackle situation as migration crisis, and carry out operation more efficiently.

Frontex 1

Following this visit of Frontex, all the CES students remain with the group for a common lunch break and a quick visit to the Information Point of the European Union representation in Warsaw.

In the information point, many materials about the European Union waited for us.

This visit was the chance to explain the principal aim of those European Union Representations, educate and inform about the European Union, and point out that they are present in most big cities of the Union.

The study trip organised by the European Student Think Tank finished after it, and all the people enjoyed the rest of the day to discover the capital of Poland.

Aurélien Pommier

Interview with Dr. Paul Vincent, a visiting professor for spring 2015 semester at Jagiellonian University’s Centre for European Studies

Paul Vincent - int

Dr. Paul Vincent

Dr. Paul Vincent has received Fulbright U.S. Scholar Grant to teach as a visiting professor for spring 2015 semester at Jagiellonian University’s Centre for European Studies. CES students were lucky to have an opportunity to participate in Dr. Vincent’s Nazi Germany: A political and Social History class.

We met with Dr. Vincent on a sunny afternoon in April to talk about Poland, Krakow, CES, students, life in general and also share knowledge on best food places in Krakow…

 

 

What brought you to CES?

To answer I must go back a few years to the point where we created an exchange relationship between Keene State College and Jagiellonian.  That was largely triggered by Jolanta [Ambrosewicz-Jacobs], who I had contacted in December 2010.  She told me that I should connect with somebody at the Centre for European Studies (CES); indeed, she helped make that connection.  For an

American academic program focused on Holocaust Studies, Poland seemed like the right place for our students to study.  I’d already been to Poland a few times.  Well aware that the Nazis carried out the bulk of their mass murder in Poland, I believed an academic exchange program in Krakow made a great deal of sense.  Jagiellonian University was perfectly situated.  That was the beginning.

After formalizing the exchange relationship, JJ [Justyna Jochym] visited New Hampshire to attend one of Keene State’s international studies fairs.  She sat in on one of my classes—I think this was in September 2012—and said later over coffee that “we should get you to teach at the CES.”  From the moment she spoke those words I knew I wanted to turn that idea into reality; I really wanted to experience teaching for the Centre.  So JJ and I started to exchange notes on how to bring me to Krakow as a visiting professor.

Ultimately, I used official letters-of-invitation from both Professor Mania and Professor Mach to land me the Fulbright Scholarship—an award that ensured I wouldn’t need to sleep on benches in the Planty while teaching for the CES.  With the Fulbright, everything fell into place and worked out beautifully.  I have absolutely no regrets.

Do you still like Krakow the same way as you expected to like it?

I like it better every day; from day one, it’s been wonderful.  When I arrived in January, Christmas trees and the Christmas market were still in the city.  There was about an inch of snow on the ground and the city looked magical.  Indeed, ever since those first days I’ve thought of this place as magical.  It’s a delightful place to live.

Also, right from the start, people at the Centre were just so welcoming; they treated me so well.  Without Sylwia [Sylwia Boryka], for example, I’d never have figured out how to operate my SIM-card cellphone.  I’m a dunce when it comes to cellphones and she ensured that I could use one that works—actually walking me to a shop on Karmelicka to get the help I needed (I now go there often).

I have no doubt—this is now my favorite city in the world! It’s overriding importance for me rests, however, in the incomparable opportunity living here has given me to both touch and analyze Polish sensitivities as these relate to the Second World War and the Holocaust.  This is the chief blessing I’ll take away from my months in Kraków.

 

Speaking of teaching, do you have a teaching philosophy?

IMG_1571

Dr. Vincent with CES students

I am a historian and, as a historian, I think the main principle I bring to the classroom is an insistence that, when studying the past, a student must forget that they know what will happen.  To truly appreciate history, it’s crucial—as much as is possible—to put yourself back in the moment that you’re studying, without unwrapping what will happen between that moment and now.  If you’re unable to do this, I don’t think you can appreciate decisions that were made or responses typical human beings had to the realities that they faced.  I believe that every historian must embrace that philosophical principle; I certainly do.

Beyond that, I want my students to think for themselves.  In my role as their professor, I can provide them with the basic facts.  On quizzes, I ask them to identify the what, where, who, how, and why related to fundamental questions.  Of course, “why” is sometimes a difficult question to address, but it’s important for them to grapple with “why.”

Has your approach changed since you started teaching at CES?

Well, my CES audience is different.  I used that to evolve a special assignment.  I told my students early on about a writing assignment, one that I unwrapped today in class—they’ll actually do this in a couple of weeks.  I told them that I wanted them each to write about their country’s experience with Nazi Germany.  That’s a broad concept.  Beyond that, however, how did the Nazi era impact the region or city where they come from, and, digging even deeper, how did it impact their family or people who were close to their family.  In other words, I’m looking for some personal detail.  These are not questions that I can ask in America—or, if I ask them, they won’t likely lead to answers that are very meaningful.  But the answers of my European students will likely be very meaningful to me.  In a sense, this has also changed me.  I am getting used to the fact that I am teaching students whose families were affected by the Nazi regime in far greater ways than is true of Americans.

Whether here or in the States, I know that I can always learn from my students.  With respect to history, but also with respect to various other courses, professors can all learn from their students.  Regardless of how long we’ve been on the professor’s side of the lectern in the classroom, we are all ultimately students until the day we retire.

12011548_1605042129759473_979084628_o

Bunkier Café

What was most surprising for you when you started teaching at CES?

I am not going to say that it was a surprise, but I recognized something I needed to get accustomed to.  The issue is not just limited to CES; it is broader than that.  I needed to accustom myself to teaching at Jagiellonian, in a Polish environment—maybe to some degree, a European environment.

I’m the product of a higher education system that puts a terrific emphasis on office hours.  But I didn’t have an office here at CES.  I knew there was a point when I, because I’m an American, had to have office hours and so I needed to find a place for them.  I picked the Bunkier Café.  But until last week the only students who came to office hours were Keene students, and they weren’t even taking my course.  Ultimately, it became more about “let’s go see Professor Vincent at the Bunkier” than it was about anything to do with coursework.  Then last week, for the first time since February, two of my MA students showed up and talked generally about the course.  It was delightful—albeit, a bit disconcerting for the Keene students.

I’ve been told that office hours in Poland are designed more for administrative purposes, not to continue the conversation from the classroom.  I hope that I’ve transformed some thinking a bit.  For me, it’s really important to be available beyond the classroom for my students.

What was especially unique about teaching CES students?

All of my students are European.  Some of them have better language skills than others, especially when they are stand-up comedians in local clubs where they speak in English—an unusual circumstance that’s a clear advantage.  They are quieter in class than American students.  But that may have something to do with English not being their first language.  Of course, that’s a good reason for an American professor to have office hours.  It will be a fine memory having that; it will be hard to find it back in America.

Speaking of students, maybe you have some interesting story that was striking, surprising to you, that you think would have never happened back in the US?

One thing that really did shock me, quite honestly, occurred early on in the semester.  I was going on about something in class when suddenly I looked at my watch:  I had kept them 10-15 minutes beyond the end of class time.  Nobody had said a word.  They simply sat there, taking notes and listening to what I had to say.  I was so apologetic.  I could never do that in America; everyone would be talking and pointing at the clock.  If it’s time for the class to end, it’s better for the professor to shut up and let them go.  That was not the case in this instance and it really surprised me.  Their silence may have been out of respect, I don’t know.  But it left a very positive impression on me.

Your advice to Keene students who consider coming to study abroad at CES?

keene

Dr. Vincent with CES Spring 2015 study abroad KSC students

As a historian, I often say that we are separated by time and distance from what we study.  We can change the variable of distance, but we’re not able to change the time variable—nor would we likely want to.  My sense is that if you have even a remote interest in the Holocaust and learning more about it, nothing will have a greater impact than visiting and studying in one of the places where it happened.  There is just something special about standing on the ground where the event happened.

Krakow is such a delightful place; I would return to the city in a heartbeat.  For a start, you’re surrounded by students.  By and large, they are reasonably well behaved and self-controlled.  I am increasingly impressed by the maturity that I experience in Krakow and know that it is valuable for American students, whether or not they’re studying the Holocaust, to see and appreciate that one can grow up as an undergraduate in this environment in a more mature way.

“Don’t anticipate that you’ll come to Krakow and lead the princely lifestyle that you’re able to lead at Keene State College,” I would advise, “because residence halls here are not hotels, such as at KSC.”  But that is not among the purposes of studying at Jagiellonian.  “Your goal,” I would say, “is to experience something different and exciting—and you will experience something different and exciting.”

The last thing I would advise is “learn a little Polish.”

How is your Polish, Paul?

Oops, you got me there!  I was doing okay for about six weeks.  Then the invitation arrived from Prague to speak before the Senate of the Czech Republic.  There was no longer time for Polish—no doubt, my biggest regret.  Dziękuję bardzo.

 

 

 

Review of academic article: Goio, Franco (1994), ‘Teorie della nazione’. Quaderni di scienza politica, COEDIT, Genova, Year 1, n.2.

The author of this article, Professor Franco Goio, is currently teaching Political Science at the University of Trieste, Italy, and has published several academic articles and books on nationalism and nation-building process. With this article, he provides us with an important description of the theories of nation, very interesting and useful to understand what the concept of “nation” and those closely related of “nationality”, “nationalism” and “nation-state” actually mean.

The Professor takes into consideration the main theories of nation developed in political science, dividing them into cultural and political ones. The article is structured in a very clear and effective manner, which allows the reader to comprehend the main points of the theories of nation considered in the article, to compare them and to develop his own point of view on the subject.

Before starting analyzing the theories of nation, the author mentions the meanings usually ascribed in the common language to the terms “nation”, “nationalism” and “nationality”. He emphasizes from the very beginning the fact that these concepts are both cultural and political, that is, founded on the close link between cultural and politico-institutional elements. This introduction is very useful for the reader to understand how the different theories of nation regard the idea of nation and nationalism. Given these assumptions, he moves on to consider the cultural theories of nation, that is, those theories of nation that give primacy to cultural features in the nation-building process. In the article, he analyzes the works of Ernest Gellner and Karl W. Deutsch. From the author’s point of view, the cultural theories of nation are inadequate to explain nation-building process and nationalism, since politics plays a fundamental role in the definition of nation; this point is the main thesis of the author and it provides a very interesting perspective in the studies on nation and nationalism.

After, the Professor examines the main political theories of nation, considering the works of several scholars. He starts his analysis from the theories of Benedict Anderson and Mario Albertini, then he moves on to consider the works of John Breuilly and Anthony D. Smith. In the first two cases, the author stresses the definition of the relation between culture and politics in the studies of Anderson and Albertini; then, he considers more in detail the theories of Breuilly and Smith. In the study of the theory of Breuilly, the author is referring to the work “Nationalism and the state”, where Breuilly focuses especially on the concept of nationalism. According to Breuilly, in order to understand what nationalism is, it is necessary to consider the socio-political context where nationalism has developed, that is, the modern nation-state. The analysis of Breuilly is a very significant work in the studies on nationalism, since it considers more in detail the processes of citizenship and civil society building. Last, the author provides a very interesting analysis of the work of Smith, one of the most known and prolific among contemporary scholars of nationalism. In the article, the Professor focuses on those issues that Breuilly leaves unsolved in his work, thus considering Smith’s insight on the nation-building process. One of the elements, which makes the study of Professor Goio on the theory of Smith particularly notable, is his elaboration of how the cultural and the political features are connected in Smith’s work. Although Smith ascribes to ethnicity a key role in the nation-building process, his theory can be considered a political theory of nation.

After analyzing the main political theories of nation, the author concludes the article developing some very important considerations on the definition of the concept of “nation”. The idea of nation is based on two main principles: representation and integration; the elaboration of the integration processes behind the concept of nation is very enlightening for the reader. A national community can be defined as a collective identity, the outcome of an identification process.

The article treats a very complex and controversial subject such as the idea of nation and nationalism in a very helpful and intriguing way. Professor Goio provides the reader with a remarkable and interesting perspective on the definition of the concept of nation and nationalism. The article is useful particularly for Political Science students, since the jargon used is very specific and the reader should be already familiar with Political Science theories.

Besides, the article is a must-read for those Political Science students who are interested in analyzing the subject of the idea of nation and nationalism focusing on the relation between culture and politics. For those students who would like to elaborate the concepts of ethno-cultural or constitutional nationalism, this article provides a very good overview to begin with. The Professor also gives the reader the opportunity to study more in detail the theory of each scholar, since he makes specific references to their works.

The article, besides being a very remarkable, interesting and useful analysis for Political Science students, also provides the reader with much food for thought, given the importance and the urgency of the subject. It is then definitely worth being read.

Martina Cester,

MA student, Centre for European Studies 

Join CES in 2015!

Admission for 2015/2016 academic year! Only 1day left! 

We continue introducing  our double degree MA programmes. Learn today about  new double degree programmes offered at the Centre for European Studies.

MA in Governance, Leadership and Democracy Studies

Double Degree Programme with Universidade Católica Portuguesa

This programme combines a teaching dimension with high-quality research. It provides students with knowledge in the field of EU studies and democracy and governance. Programme is designed for students eager to learn more about the contemporary Europe understood as political, economic and social project.

This double degree programme is open for students interested in political order in Europe in a new global challenges and perspective. Students will both be able to start in Krakow and progress to Lisbon and vice-versa.

Learn more about Governance, Leadership and Democracy Studies. 

European Regional Studies

Double Degree Programme with the University of Tartu

Programme provides students with knowledge of history, political, economic, social and cultural developments as well as international relations in both regions. The programme is designed to train specialists and researchers dealing with two partly overlapping regions: North Eastern Europe (courses offered by the University of Tartu as the Baltic Sea Region) and Central and Eastern Europe (courses offered by the Jagiellonian University in Krakow).

Learn more about European Regional Studies programme.

EU-Japan Advanced Multidisciplinary Master Studies

Programme gives students an opportunity to select from the full range of courses offered by the humanities, social as well as natural sciences. It allows to undertake a unique learning experience of the multidisciplinary nature of the Double Degree Programmes.

The EU-JAMM curriculum enables exchange students from the EU and Japan to conduct a comprehensive and structural analysis of the EU and Japan from a multidisciplinary perspective.

Pedro BPerdo (Portugal):

This MA is instrumental in fulfilling my goal and broadening my perspective. This double-degree programme gives me the opportunity to study in Krakow and Kobe, it fills my aspiration to progress in two reputable Institutions, develop an interdisciplinary MA studies which will grant me a competitive edge.  Also, the added perspective from outside of Europe is crucial to an all-round better understanding of Europe issues. The expertise and range of the studies were of the utmost importance to me. 

This DDP enables one to understand fundamental political issues in Central and Eastern Europe and EU-Japan relations whilst discovering how culture and history shaped political thinking and vice versa.

Furthermore, Japan’s future is also closely related with the forthcoming decades of the European project. They are solidly intertwined. Therefore it is naive to favor one by disregarding the other. Comprehending how all these variables interact is one of the goals of this programme . Additionally, I believe that Central and Eastern Europe have an increasing role in shaping and solidifying the European project. This MA addresses both themes which are an emerging issue in international relations.

The upcoming years bring a shift in the paradigm of International Relations, in the complex global world we live in, properly informed individuals are in order to better tackle future issues. This DDP is the perfect platform from which to get the necessary to become a much needed specialist in Japan’s role and its importance for Europe, both historically and contemporarily.

Learn more about  EU-Japan Advanced Multidisciplinary Master Studies. 

Join CES in 2015! Visit CES webpage to learn more about our programmes! 

Join CES in 2015!

Admission for 2015/2016 academic year! Only 2 days left! 

We continue introducing  MA programmes offered at the Centre for European Studies.

Today – Double Degree Programmes at the Centre for European Studies!

European Studies/European and Global Governance (Double Degree Programme with the University of Kent)

This programme is designed to provide an advanced understanding of the EU within a global context to those wishing to specialise on European affairs and prepare for a career in the EU policy-making sphere or as a specialist on Europe in the rest of the world.

Pauline B1Pauline (France):

The MA in European Studies and European and Global Governance is a great chance to study at two different universities in two different European countries. Through this program and the year I spend in Krakow and Canterbury, I had the opportunity to experience Europe from two perspectives, which were in many regards very different (old versus new member-state/Western versus East-Central European), but at the same time very complementary. Studying at CES was a very enriching experience both academically and personally. Not only was CES’s international and intercultural environment academically challenging, it was also mind-opening and gave me the opportunity to exchange and debate with people with various background and from many different places in the world. I would recommend this program with no hesitation to anyone interested in European and Global affairs!

Learn more about MA in European and Global Governance! 

The International Masters in Economy, State and Society (IMESS) 

The International Masters in Economy, State and Society (IMESS) is a two-year double degree Masters programme, taught in English and offered by a consortium of leading European universities headed by the University College London.

IMESS incorporates advanced training in methodology and research with specialized study tracks:

  • Politics and Security
  • Economics and Business
  • Nation, History and Society.

Ana BAna (Croatia):

As part of my Erasmus Mundus programme, I was given the opportunity to choose my second year university. Having the previous Erasmus experience in Poland, I had no doubts of where I was going to spend my year. And I definitely did not make a mistake. A mixture of a cozy, homey atmosphere, professional and extremely friendly staff and a crowd of well educated and fun internationals was a winning combination for a year that ended up being too short for everything I wanted to go. Apart from benefiting in an academic way, I had the best possible send-off from student life and a permanent memory of a wonderful year of friends and knowledge.

Learn more about IMESS Programme! 

International Masters in Russian, Central and East European Studies (IMRCEES)

IMRCEES is coordinated by the University of Glasgow, offers a two-year double degree masters programme which combines a year of study in Glasgow (UK) with a year of study overseas at one of five double degree partner universities, including the Centre for European Studies, Jagiellonian University.

Katarina BKatarina (Croatia):

I spend the second year of my Erasmus Mundus Programme attending the European Studies track at CES. I chose this programme/track as I wanted to gain in-depth knowledge on the EU affairs. In addition, I have studied in Poland before, so I was sure that I was making the best decision as to the country of destination for my second year. In my opinion, the value of this programme is the fact that the study of the EU affairs is done from the perspective of the Central and East European Countries. In this way, I would argue, I benefited by having a different perspective to the area of European studies.

 

Artem BArtem (Ukraine):

I chose to study at CES, and particularly within its Central and Eastern European study track, as my research interest lays in the field of democratisation and, especially, its external factors (such as the EU’s influence). Thus, I was interested to look on the post-Soviet transitions through Western perspective, and study highly valuable experience of political and economic transformations in Central European states along with the role European integration played in their successful transitions to democracy.

Studying at CES has equipped me with knowledge of the institutional foundations of the EU and the main strategies and approaches of its foreign policy. Therefore, it has substantially complemented my research on Ukraine’s democratic transition and its foreign policy, providing me with the opportunity to see a full picture of ‘external-internal factors’ interplay in Ukraine’s long-lasting political transformation.

Learn more about IMRCESS Programme!

Double Degree Programme with the University of Strasbourg

Two-year Double Degree Programme which combines one year at the Institute of European Studies JU and the second year at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques at the University of Strasbourg. Students spend one year at the Jagiellonian Universirty in Krakow and their second year of at the  Institut d’Etudes Politiques at the University of Strasbourg.

romain BRomain  (France) I have chosen the CES in order to meet Poland and to learn about an area that unfortunately keeps on being too much unknown in Europe. Studying there gave me the opportunity to find Europe in all its dimensions and to broaden my mind by debating and sharing opinions from all around the world. CES is an experiment that does not narrow you to a specialisation but gives you the keys to open the doors of perceptions.

LanaLana (France):

I choose Strasbourg Programme because I wanted to broaden and enrich my knowledge of Eastern Europe. While studying at the Centre for European Studies I benefited from the professors’ support and rich knowledge- but, above all, I will always be thankful for the intense and top-quality Polish lessons.

Learn more about Double Degree Programme with the University of Strasbourg

Join CES in 2015! Visit CES webpage to learn more about our programmes. 

Join CES in 2015!

Admission for 2015/2016 academic year! Only 3 days left! 

We start with introducing our 2 years MA programmes at the Centre for European Studies.

The MA in European Studies is designed to provide students with advanced and interdisciplinary knowledge of contemporary European affairs. It is composed of high-level postgraduate courses taught in English.  Students create their own cirriculum to adjust it ot their field of interest.

Students follow one of five related study tracks:

  • EU Studies
  • Central and Eastern European Studies Specialisation
  • European Studies – Central and Eastern European Studies: Research Track
  • Studies in the Holocaust and Totalitarian Systems
  • The Europeanisation and Governance

We have asked our current students and CES alumni to share their experience studying at the Centre for European Studies:

EU Studies track is focused on learning about EU’s decision-making processes, foreign and security policy, political and economic relations between the EU and candidate countries, international organisations and the world. It encloses a Central European perspective about the European integration process.

Kasia BKasia (US):

 I choose European Studies because I wanted to expand my basic knowledge of European history and politics and to be able to understand contemporary European culture and society and its continuing impact upon today’s world. It’s the whole package: Krakow, the CES program, and all the fantastic students and faculty. It’s all relevant and encouraged me to broaden my cultural and intellectual horizons.

 headshot4Adrian (Switzerland):

The Centre for European Studies at the Jagiellonian Unviersity in Kraków is an excellent institution to learn more about the European Union. The teaching staff is very skilled and the topics and subjects being taught are very diverse. I also had the opportunity to learn Polish. I had a wonderful time, living and studying in one of the most beautiful cities in Poland and spending time with students from all over the world. I chose European studies because it includes sociology, politics and history.I learned a lot about the various aspects and institutions of the European Union which helps me to understand how this supranational entity works.

 

Central and Eastern European Studies specialisation provides students with a unique academic skill set, which helps identify the situated characteristics of the region, and its relationship to the European Union.

Heloisa BHeloisa (Italy):

CES MA program was to me a unique many-sided experience: high-quality  academia and theoretical knowledge got together with first-hand  experience and lots of additional activities. CES life does in fact take  place in its little nice institute, with very good study-facilities  (remarkably, both lounge room and student lab are open 24h/7!) and often  flows into Cracow’s cafes and pubs afterwards;) I am grateful for my  professors’ passion in lecturing and even more for the care+commitment  demonstrated by CES’ staff: this was the key to the warm and joyful  atmosphere I experienced. There is no doubt I spent 2 years of intense studying… with great people in a wonderful place;)

Nevena BNevena (Serbia):wanted to learn more about Central Europe by studying in a Central European city. I have considerably expanded my understanding of cultural, political and societal features of Central and Eastern European region. This programme has provided me with in-depth knowledge about the process of the Eastern enlargement of the European Union. I had an opportunity to get in touch with scholars and students who have similar interests. Besides academic development, studying at CES enables a unique all-inclusive experience for personal growth. People come to study at CES from a wide range of countries. This mixture of nationalities and cultures makes the atmosphere at CES vibrant, enriching and fulfilling. Thanks to that, students have exclusive opportunity to broaden their horizons, discover similarities and differences between cultures and break stereotypes.

MA in European Studies – Central and Eastern European Studies: Research Track provides students with wide knowledge about Central and Eastern Europe matters from social, economical, political and cultural perspective combined with practical courses. Students will have an opportunity to take an internship in one of our partner institutions.  The courses are lead by the Jagiellonian University and ARENA Centre for European Studies University of Oslo scholars as well as experts from the private and public sectors.

Alex BAlex (US):

I chose the Research Track here at CES because I was attracted to the practical focus of the curriculum and the opportunity to do one or more internships. Within the first few weeks of my first semester I had already secured an internship at a magazine that focuses on Central and Eastern European affairs. This is proving to be a valuable experience, as it complements my coursework and gives me an opportunity to apply what I learn in the classroom to the real world. I’d recommend the Research Track to anyone applying to CES.

Studies in the Holocaust and Totalitarian Systems is designed for students who consider specialized knowledge about the Holocaust and totalitarianisms to be beneficial for the development of a civic society. This specialty outlines the genesis of national and religious conflicts in the contemporary world, the mechanisms used to create the structure of a totalitarian or authoritarian state, and racism and anti-Semitism present in modern-day European society.

Nino BNino  (Georgia):

You need to learn and understand what stands behind terrifying parts of human history  in order to be able to prevent history from repeating itself again.  It gives a better opportunity to understand and grasp processes that are happening in contemporary world. CES gives an opportunity to learn, get a better understanding and make your own input into a formation of a society that is aware of damaging effects of anti-Semitism, racism, discrimination and take real actions in order to combat them.

CES has changed my life and shifted a lot my views on the outside world. It gave me a possibility for a new start in my life. A big part of CES experience is people you meet, experiences you get together outside of a classroom and great memories you have for the rest of your life!  

The Europeanisation and Governance stream aims to provide in-depth knowledge of the processes of Europeanisation and democratisation in Central and Eastern Europe, to build understanding of integration mechanisms and the structure and functions of European Union institutions.

Justin BJustin (US):

The Europeanization and Governance in CEE specialization allowed for  a more precise study of the aspect of European Studies that interested  me most, i.e. a comparative approach to governance in the CEE region and  the effects of the European Union on those governments, particularly  with regard to changes in identity and identity construction, while  maintaining an interdisciplinary approach to the study.

The specialization gave me the opportunity to focus on particular  cases tailored around my interests and provided theoretical constructs  and methods that are able to be applied more generally in the field.

 

Join CES in 2015! Visit CES webpage to learn more about our programmes. 

 Book Review of “Naked among the Wolves” by Apitz ,Bruno

Apitz, Bruno. Nackt unter Wölfen. Aufbau Verlag. Berlin, 2012.

The novel Nackt unter Wölfen or Naked among the Wolves, as the title can be translated into English, is a highly precious piece of the remembrance culture and the accounting of the past in post-war Germany; especially concerning the perpetration of communists and Poles by the Nazi regime. It has a fictional timeline and characters but still, the book based on a true story and written by an author, who was himself confined in Buchenwald Concentration Camp for approximately eight years. It is a story about a little Polish child, which was almost miraculously hidden in the camp by communist prisoners organized in a underground organization called the International Camp Committee. During Apitz’ imprisonment, there was indeed a child hidden by communist prisoners in the Buchenwald Camp. His name is Stefan Jerzy Zweig and he is today living in Israel. Apitz was one of the people knowing of him and he said to himself that if he ever comes out the of the camp alive, he would write down the story of the “Buchenwaldkind” (Buchenwald-child).

The setting of the novel is Buchenwald Concentration Camp, which was set up in 1937 and was initially constructed to separate “Volksfremde” from the “Volksgemeinschaft”, which meant concretely the imprisonment of political opponents (especially communists), Jews, Sinti and Roma, homosexuals and Jehovah’s witnesses. Quickly the camp developed, however, into the largest labour camp within the original territory of the “Deutsches Reich”, in which up to 250.000 people from all across Europe had to work under cruel conditions for the German armament industry. Approximately 56.000 people lost their lives in the context of the camp.

The story of the novel is the one of a child coming to Buchenwald on a transport from Auschwitz Concentration Camp in a piece of luggage, carried and protected by an adult prisoner. He managed to keep it hidden from the SS and to have it taken by inmates, who were organized in the International Camp Committee, a resistance movement within Buchenwald Concentration Camp. They refused to hand over the child to the SS because they knew that they would kill it instantly; but doing so, they put their own lives and the lives of many others at risk. The fact that it were communist prisoners hiding the child was very useful to the later state of the GDR. There, the novel was used as a school book for anti-fascist propaganda.

In depicting the story of the “Buchenwaldkind”, the author succeeded in a highly interesting manner. When reading books about concentration camps, the reader immediately imagines suffering, extermination and human trauma in a very violent way – in other words – a very emotional approach to it. Apitz, however, describes his experiences, encased in the story of the child and its protectors, to be extremely rational and non-emotional. To him, rationality was used to exterminate people, especially through bureaucracy, discipline and order.

Everything in the camp, from food-distribution to murdering, only took place through a highly elaborated system of bureaucracy, in which every detail was rigorously documented. To keep this system working, the Nazis used prisoners for menial labour, for example in the “Effektenkammer”, where they had to categorize all the confiscated belongings of other prisoners and then send them to the “Reich”. In the story, the prisoners were able, through working in this bureaucratic system, to figure out how it operates and therefore, were able to use the “blind spots” in the system for the protection of the child. They were always one step ahead of the SS guards – which of course did not save them from arbitrary and extremely violent abuse.

This is also exactly the point where the main moral question of the novel is hidden: What is more important? Saving one innocent child or keeping the lives of many save to a greater extend? Of course, no prisoner is ever save in a concentration camp. But hiding a child from the SS guards definitely puts many lives at great risk and threatened even the existence of the International Camp Committee, because it was on the edge of falling apart over the issue of hiding or delivering the child to the SS. Apitz answer to this moral ambiguity is clear: Every life is precious and has to be protected even at the greatest risk.

The novel ends with the liberation of the camp by the allied forces. The former prisoners were able to protect the child until the end, but only at the expense of the lives of several conspirators. What Apitz clearly left out in his story was the fact that there were in total 903 children and young adults liberated alongside the “Buchenwaldkind”. On the one side, there is no hint of them in the book, but on the other side, Apitz does not claim utterly truth in his fictional story because it is in fact rather an individual story than a historical textbook. So, there is no harm done in neglecting historical discrepancies considering the book.

Apitz novel Naked among the Wolves touches the reader by its depiction of morality and the creation of a highly oppressing atmosphere. It is definitely a must-read for everyone who is trying to imagine the everyday lives of prisoners in former concentration camps.

Rebecca Weiß,

Studies in Holocaust and Totalitarian Systems student at the Centre for European Studies

Review of ‘Multinational Federalism in Bosnia and Herzegovina’ by Keil, Soeren

Even though Western Balkans are no longer making the headlines like they did in the 1990s or the beginning of the 2000s, the region still attracts considerable attention among scholars and pundits, mainly from the perspective of its EU membership, but not only. Dr. Soeren Keil’s book ‘Multinational Federalism in Bosnia and Herzegovina’, published in December 2013, presents a great reading on one country of the region, which went from war and instability to the world’s first ‘internationally administered federation’ in fewer than twenty years.

The book is trying to explain the federal model, established in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as an example of a new approach towards federalism in general. Therefore, it could be of interest not only to those studying the Western Balkans, but anyone with a curiosity for the multinational federalism, currently evolving in all parts of the world, including ‘Ethiopia in Africa, Nepal in Asia, Iraq in Middle East, and … Rusia in Europe’. (2013; p.3) Soeren Keil offers a well-developed and detailed insight into a new model of federation, which originated under the influence of the international community in Bosnia and Herzegovina as a way of leading the state out of a protracted inter-ethnic conflict. By doing this he pursues two main aims: to analyse the process of building the federal political system in Bosnia and Herzegovina after the adoption of the Dayton Peace Agreement of November 1995 and to offer a theoretical framework for examining similar phenomena in other countries. Taking this into account, the book is structured in such a way that a reader could easily move from a study of one country to an exploration of a complex system of institutional architecture. Such an approach allows for a better understanding of very complex issues the work touches upon. What is federalism, how is it perceived in modern times, what can we learn from the Balkan experience are just a few questions the book answers in a very clear way, making us want to read more on the subject.

 

The opening chapter introduces the debate on multinational federalism and multinational federations, with the following three being devoted exclusively to the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Chapter 2 goes back in history to learn where the roots of BiH’s federal tradition stem from. Chapter 3 defines the Bosnian federation and Chapter 4 focuses on the post-war developments in the country. The conclusion, however, is going beyond the Western Balkan context and provides ideas for a wider comparative paradigm. What is more, a reader does not need to have any prior knowledge of the region or the topic, since the author explains his theoretical framework and methodology in a simple language at the beginning of his work. This means that the book is accessible to a very wide readership.

 

Democracy, federalism and nationalism are the main theoretical concepts, discussed in the book. They provide the background against which the issue of a multinational federal state is explored. By looking at the role of free and fair elections, political and civil rights, horizontal accountability and the separation of powers in today’s environment, Dr. Keil shows that there is no universal path to democracy, and the way, chosen by Bosnia with the help and insistence from external actors, such as the EU and USA, is only one among many available. This work, therefore, could also be of interest to pundits developing strategies for countries setting out on the journey of democratic development. That what makes this book rather unique: it is not just a well-developed theoretical work on the concept of federalism but also a practical guide for those working in politics or public policy, especially in newly-established countries or countries undergoing reforms.

The book presents a good balance of theory and empirical data, which makes it both thought-provoking and informative at the same time. It is definitely an earnest contribution into studying the advantages and disadvantages of federalism in Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as plural societies in general. Its findings could be also valuable for scholars or policy-makers, currently looking for a solution to the Ukrainian crisis. Thanks to the generality of its conclusions, it could be used to fuel the debates regarding the applicability of a federal idea to Ukraine as an attempt to accommodate the needs and requirements of the country’s numerous minorities, the biggest of which is represented by Russians.

All in all, Dr. Keil’s ‘Multinational Federalism in Bosnia and Herzegovina’ is a well-grounded work on federalism, international state-building and democratisation project in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which could be used for analysing other divided societies. He looks at Bosnia and Herzegovina as one case of a number of countries adopting a new model of federalism, which makes the book both a very pleasant and educational read.

Anastasiia Kudlenko,  IMRCEES student