American Studies in Belarus and European Experience

 Liubou Uladykouskaya

 American Studies in Belarus and European Experience: Strategies of Development

“We the People of the United States” – begins the first Constitution in the world, the Constitution of the United States of America. “We the Belarusian people…” – we, Belarusians, should think, feel and act as the mankind has invented nothing better than patriotism. The idea of freedom and liberty for individuals and for the entire nation is the idea that should unite the nation (that’s exactly what my favorite American hero fought for: Abraham Lincoln’s life was guided by the motto that there should be neither owners, nor slaves.). And that’s a universal idea. To implement it, “God bless America!” and God bless Bealrus!

 According to the overwhelming opinion of the participants, the international round table “American Studies in Belarus and European experience: Strategies of development” that took place on November 3rd, 2011 and was organized by Center for Intercultural Dialogue with the assistance of the Embassy of the USA in Belarus involving the Institute of Sociology of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus, Republican Confederation of Entrepreneurship and International Fund “Golden Heritage of Vitebsk” was successful.

 First, the conversation was constructive and developed in a working atmosphere without unwarranted pomposity. The cozy hall in the hotel “Europe” and live music by the “Brevis” ensemble facilitated the trustful discussion. Second, the round table brought together people of absolutely different and diverse occupations: leaders of all the major business associations in Belarus, businessmen, priests of different religions, diplomats, academics and cultural elites (of different generations, schools, traditions and opinions). Third, the participants were invited not with respect to the official position they hold but with respect to their knowledge, professionalism and leadership achievements. At the round table, among others, participated leaders of business associations (U.Karagin, G.Badzei, A.Kalinin, A.Dzenisuik, A.Hil, Y.Dankou, K.Kalamiec), scientists and educators V.Strazhau, L.Rychkova, A.Zeliankou, I.Katliarou, Y.Babosau, Y.Stulau, T.Kamarouskaya, V.Malyshava, H.Sinila, his Excellency bishop A.Dziamianka, father A.Shymbaliou, Pr. A.Mal’dzis, Pr. S.Padniuk, Pr. S.Lukin, Pr. A.Kraucevich, younger generation A.Kazakevich, A.Lahviniec, and others. Forth, the presentations and discussions were developing in European and American context, which includes the addresses and presentations by the cultural attaché of the US Embassy in Belarus Carrie Lee, the director of the Representation of International Organization for Migration D.Keseravich, Polish Professor G.Parafiyanovich. Fifth, all the American studies societies were represented at the meeting. Sixth, not only Minsk, but also the regions were represented. Then, the Belarusian language was actively used, some presentations were made in Russian, English, and Polish.

 The meeting was not aimed at detailed discussion and decisions in all the fields. Instead, we attempted to shape the most significant directions of American studies in Belarus and analyze their development, which was successfully achieved. We plan to organize separate seminars in all the topics covered: achievementsoftheUShighereducationsystemasa motive power for the world’s education systems; the culture of American business as a promoter of social responsibility in business; Belarusian-American religious contacts; contemporary migration tendencies; cultural policies in national and international dimensions; American centers in Belarus.

           At the end of the meeting the idea about the foundation of the American Club in Minsk was announced. The club is planned to bring together the representatives of diplomacy, business, education, science, culture, religion, mass media in order to strengthen the Belarusian-America cultural dialogue, establish professional contacts with American colleagues and partners, spread of the knowledge about the American and Belarusian culture.

           Our Belarusian-American initiative gathers strength due to its urgency and topicality, professionalism, patriotism and activity of the people who implement it. We express our gratitude to everyone who took part in the event and helped with the organization, and especially to Chargé d’Affaires ad Interim of the USA to Belarus Distinguished Ambassador Michael Scanlan.