During their visit to the European Humanities University (EHU), members of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Swedish Parliament heard from EHU students and leadership about the long-lasting and productive ties between EHU and Sweden. Participants also discussed the situation in Belarus, students' Belarusian identity, and their goals and plans for the future.
EHU Rector Anatoli Mikhailov thanked Sweden for its continuing support and spoke of the strength of EHU's ties with Sweden, mentioning an upcoming conference organized by EHU's Jewish Studies Center together with Uppsala University.
EHU students who took part in the conversation said they feel more free to speak Belarusian at EHU than in Belarus.
“At EHU no one will force you to speak Russian while in Belarus you are often forced to. We can submit our papers in Belarusian if we want and general subjects are taught in Belarusian,” said Maria Stepanova.
This is a very different environment from Belarus, where the use of Belarusian is sharply decreasing every year.
Students also noted that EHU provided them with educational opportunities that are not available in Belarus.
“I was interested in the relationship between tourism and cultural heritage, but in Belarus you could only study tourism from a purely business perspective," said Alena Mikhailava, a graduate of EHU's Tourism and Cultural Heritage Program. "At EHU we learn not just how to manage tours, but how to work with our history. Our graduates organize cultural festivals and work with cultural heritage sites."
“EHU is a major platform for information on what is happening in Belarus. Education is a major problem for Belarus and EHU is a really good thing in this context,” added EHU student Maksim Vashkevich.
The European Humanities University is a private, non-profit liberal arts university founded in Minsk in 1992. Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, the university has been headquartered in Vilnius, Lithuania since authorities expelled it from Belarus in 2004. It serves nearly 2,000 mostly Belarusian students, offering undergraduate and graduate degree programs and promoting research in the humanities and social sciences.