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Posted on Sep 12, 2013

BALSSI 2013 – Language, Culture and Food!

balssi-2013-stjohns-300The 2013 Baltic Studies Summer Institute (BALSSI) offered three intensive language courses at the University of Pittsburgh: Beginning Estonian, Beginning Latvian, and Beginning Lithuanian. A total of five undergraduates, five graduate students, and three community members participated in these courses. Research interests of students in this year’s program included 20th century Lithuanian history, ethnomusicology in Latvia, the Russian-speaking minority in Estonia, and Estonia’s role in international cyber security.

balssi-2013-food-300BALSSI 2013 was enhanced by a rich program of lectures, films and other cultural offerings, which were free and open to the public. Pitt’s Summer Language Institute (SLI) held picnics every Friday, featuring a different East European cuisine prepared by the students themselves (including a week dedicated to Baltic cuisines) along with regional music. Students also participated in weekly singing lessons taught in the target languages and attended the annual St. John’s Day celebration at Pittsburgh’s Lithuanian Country Club. This year’s SLI cultural program included screenings of one Latvian and one Lithuanian film, as well as four lectures by scholars working on the Baltic countries: Maarja Merivoo-Parro, “Homo Estonicus in America”; Jordan Kuck, “‘Grow for Latvia!’ The Role of Mazpulki during the Ulmanis Years”; Jennie Schulze, “Minority Integration and Interethnic Relations in Estonia”; and Ellen Cassedy, “We Are Here: Language, Legacy, and Listening in Lithuania.”