Welcome to this winter’s The Polyglot, which features an overseas theme and a focus on SWSEEL’s commitment to host the Baltic Studies Summer Institute (BALSSI) in 2016 and 2017. I’ve just finished reading through the whole of the newsletter and was very glad of this chance to learn more about our engaging, active, and distinguished alumni, including Toivo Raun (who for decades has been solidly and enthusiastically committed to and involved in SWSEEL and BALSSI) and John Woodsworth. I also really enjoyed learning about the overseas exploits, recent accomplishments, and SWSEEL reflections of other alumni, many of whom I was fortunate enough to meet while they were in the Workshop. And finally, Rebecca Mueller’s interview with Niko Kontovas is delightful. It’s a genuine privilege to feature a SWSEEL student turned popular faculty member. One of my favorite aspects of the Workshop is the fact that so many alumni have returned to teach and share their love of language and culture with new generations of learners. In fact, Rebecca’s interview with Niko isn’t this issue’s only evidence of this special continuity; you can also read about it in Robert Fradkin’s engaging essay.
This has been an exciting year for the Workshop. In November we hosted a reception on campus to celebrate our 65th anniversary. This was a wonderful opportunity to reconnect during the academic year with students and colleagues, and also to enjoy reminders about SWSEEL’s impact and solid national reputation from speakers including Dean Lee Feinstein, Professors Maria Bucur, Steven Franks, and Dodona Kiziria, and from our staunch advocate and popular Russian instructor, Mark Trotter. Notably, many of our on-campus partners generously underwrote the reception, including the College of Arts and Sciences, the Departments of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures and of Slavic and East European Languages and Cultures, the Russian and East European Institute, the Inner Asian and Uralic National Resource Center, the Center for the Study of the Middle East, the Islamic Studies Program, the Center for the Languages of the Central Asian Region, and IU Army ROTC.
That same month we also co-hosted an alumni reception with REEI at the annual conference of the Association of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies and saw many old friends, including Keith Doubt and Michael Marsh-Solowy, both of whom appear elsewhere in this newsletter. Happily, Professor Guntis Smidchens also met up with me there to talk about BALSSI, whose offerings in SWSEEL 2016 include first-year courses in Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian, all taught by veteran BALSSI instructors.
Other good news from 2015 includes the fact that the U.S. Department of State re-appropriated funding to the Title VIII program (http://www.state.gov/s/inr/grants/), which ran its first grant competition in two years. Four programs have received Title VIII funding for this fiscal year from State, including SWSEEL, which received the second largest grant in this cycle. As a result, we are again able to offer generous fellowships for domestic and overseas study of the languages of the former Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, and border regions. This summer, students will be eligible to receive Title VIII fellowships for studying Azerbaijani, Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian, Estonian, Hungarian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Mongolian, Russian, and Ukrainian in the Workshop. Other 2016 languages include Arabic, Chinese, Kurdish, Persian, Portuguese, and Turkish.
The return of BALSSI and Title VIII bring a new energy for 2016 that is augmented by the addition of our newest language, Portuguese, and echoes of the congratulatory notes and other wonderful input about the 65th anniversary that we’ve received over the past year. It’s going to be another fantastic summer! You’ll hear all about it right here in the fall.
In the meantime, I warmly invite you to please enjoy this issue of The Polyglot!