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“A stylish historical and cultural marathon”

<I>The Day</I> pays another visit to Ostroh
20 December, 00:00

“If you do well, child, you’ll enter Ostroh Academy,” a schoolteacher once told a girl, now a first-year undergraduate. Taking her first exams, she still finds it difficult to believe that she is a student at one of Eastern Europe’s oldest universities. The Day also visited this university last week, but not for the first time. It is a tradition now for The Day to meet with students of the National University of Ostroh Academy to launch new books. The Day started the last Ostroh “marathon” this year by opening a two-week-long Photo-Day-2005 exhibition in one of the academy’s lecture halls, which will later be moved to Rivne’s House of Academics. Ostroh students say that the photo show is now in full swing. Olha Reshetylova told The Day that “from the first days about a thousand students, professors and guests of the university have visited the photo show. Their numbers have greatly increased in the last while because the news about the photo gallery spread across Ostroh in no time.” Rector Ihor Pasichnyk said the current meeting was important because the fourth and fifth books of The Day Library Series, The Apocrypha of Klara Gudzyk and Day and Eternity of James Mace, were launched at the university.

Judging by the dialogue that took place with The Day’s editor-in-chief Larysa Ivshyna, the students had carefully read the two new books from The Day Library Series long before the meeting. They asked incisive and substantiated questions, occasionally sprinkled with quotations from the books. Pasichnyk told his students that he was most interested in the book about James Mace. “Professor Mace must have done his most productive work at The Day, for he found true friends there, who let him express himself. All I can say about this book is that the dead go on living through it,” Pasichnyk said.

For the first time history teachers from local secondary schools also joined the Ostroh-Day discussion. The Day is grateful to Rector Pasichnyk and faculty members for helping to expand the circle of the newspaper’s friends. Each teacher was presented with five books from The Day Library Series — Ukraina Incognita, Dvi Rusi, Wars and Peace, Day and Eternity of James Mace, and The Apocrypha of Klara Gudzyk — which will be placed in their school libraries. An informal opinion poll of Ostroh Academy students shows that for most of them the five Day

books provide deep insight into the five most important landmarks of Ukrainian history. Four out of approximately 20 questions were voted “best question” during the competition organized by Ms. Ivshyna. Each winner received a book from the Library Series. As the meeting came to a close, the rector, on behalf of Ostroh Academy, presented Ms. Ivshyna with the university’s most precious possession: the first Ukrainian-language Bible, the Ostroh Bible. The presentation was greeted with loud applause from the 400-strong audience. The original Ostroh Bible was published in 1581 by the printer Ivan Fedorovych (Fedorov). From now on, this legendary Bible will be kept at The Day’s editorial offices as a memento of the unforgettable contacts and strong friendship that have been established with the no less legendary and unforgettable Ostroh Academy.

Liudmyla MASYK, 3rd-year student, Liberal Arts Faculty:

“Recently James Mace was posthumously awarded the Order of Yaroslav the Wise (2nd class). Do you think that you personally and The Day have contributed to helping this outstanding figure gain nationwide recognition?”

“James Mace was a personality whose powerful civic courage set — and, I am sure, will go on setting — the tone of debates not just on the Holodomor. He very often broached social topics in his writings. I often say that Mace’s “Tale of Two Journalists” should be required reading at all universities that teach journalism. Mace’s special merit is that he delivered a report at the US Congress, not a formal one but a meaningful one based on famine eyewitness accounts, at an unfavorable time, when most Americans were unwilling to attach too much importance to the Ukrainian genocide. This report has not been published in Ukraine yet. Mace was a unique patriot of Ukraine. This kind of patriotism, which emanated from his stout heart, does not depend on origin or nationality. I believe this is a special trait of great people. After arriving here in the 1990s, Mace called Ukraine a post-genocidal country. At the same time, everything that our newspaper could do to expand awareness of the Holodomor in Ukraine we did, by focusing the attention of conscientious and intelligent people, but not just those who live in Ukraine. When James died, somebody said he should be proclaimed a Hero of Ukraine. In my opinion, this idea doesn’t require petitions to the president personally or the government as a whole. To me and The Day James Mace is already a Hero of Ukraine. But I am not sure that he would like to sit on the same bench now with some other Heroes of Ukraine. He could have had many other decorations. I think that as time goes by, such honors will be coming to him in the shape of books by and about him. As a matter of fact, by publishing the book Day and Eternity of James Mace, our newspaper tried to show that Ukrainians know how to show their gratitude.”

Iryna MARCHUK, student:

“In his autobiography James Mace says that all nations are specific and unique, and each of them can make a major contribution to the world’s development. In his article, “Freedom of Libel or Libel of Freedom?,” he says that Ukraine must first of all have freedom of expression and that ‘without such freedoms America would never have become what it is.’ Does he mean that America is a better nation and Ukraine must follow America’s path?”

“It is a paradoxical question whether a country should follow its own path. Naturally, every nation should make its own choice and tread its own unique path, but there are certain frameworks. Ukraine, as a thousand-year-old civilization, was shaped to a certain extent by the cultural traditions of Europe. In some respects, we cannot become a country like America, but the Americans used quite rational instruments for achieving their material wealth. Our closest neighbors, the Poles, copied America in many ways but still preserved their own identity. Identity is one of the most important components of success for those who have chosen the way of modernization. If we aspire to European standards, we must first of all get back to our somewhat forgotten European roots. Aware of our cultural affinity with Europe, we should not forget to further develop Ukrainian society, following the example of those who succeeded in this before us. Thinking back about James Mace, I can say he was a patriot of his great fatherland, but he opposed pan-Americanism and quite often criticized President George Bush. He did it as a citizen whose heart bled for America. But America did not need him, a researcher of the Ukrainian genocide. Very few people knew about Ukraine then. At the time only powerful institutions of Sovietologists wielded a great deal of clout. Ukraine, too, is doing very little to make itself known in the world via cultural and research centers.”

Oksana PRASIUK, third-year student:

“The book The Apocrypha of Klara Gudzyk contains the author’s interviews with some prominent figures of the Ukrainian past. I would like to know: which outstanding figure of Ukrainian history would you like to have a conversation with?”

“There are many. Let me give you two examples. I recently visited the Dmytro Yavornytsky Manor-Museum in Dnipropetrovsk and was bewitched by the atmosphere there. This kind of institution is always something more than just a museum. Yavornytsky was a prominent historian and an interesting personality with exquisite style and taste. Whenever I hear the standard jokes about Ukrainian sharovary (Cossack pantaloons — Ed.), I recall a photograph of Yavornytsky wearing very classy black sharovary, which stands on his desk in the museum. He looks wonderful, as though he’s dressed in haute couture. It is unfortunate that so few of his works have been published. Yavornytsky once traveled to Solovky just to see the conditions in which Petro Kalnyshevsky had languished. I dream of people like him being reincarnated. We need such people among us to show by their strength and beauty what kind of people we, Ukrainians, should be. I had almost the same feeling when I visited the Ivan Kotliarevsky Manor-Museum in Poltava. When you are there, you see what a genuine Ukrainian aristocrat is!”

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