Borderlands Between East and West

Warsaw, Bucharest, Poland, Romania

Next Offered
Early Fall Start 2024
Approximate Dates of Instruction
Application Deadline
Information Session: Tuesday, January 23, 3:30 pm, Padelford A-216

This program is co-sponsored by the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures.

Are borderlands just transit spaces of goods and people, or meeting places of stories and cultures?

By shifting our perspective from geopolitics to the local level, this program explores what it means to be displaced in a foreign country, surrounded by an incomprehensible language, and compelled to adapt to a new lifestyle. Focusing on the powerful impact of storytelling, we will visit Ukrainian refugee centers both in Warsaw and in Bucharest, engaging with the people who count on the world’s help but also express their agency, sharing their stories of living at borderlands. We will compare their testimonials with the news stories and the grand narratives of international political pundits in order to shed light on the interwoven realities and transnational histories of people moving across borders. At the Eastern gateways of the European Union, we will examine cultural diversity, developing a “relational narrative” that brings conflicting voices together into a shared space where the meaning of the self resonates with the meaning of the others. We will delve into local histories while we visit museums, tour the former Jewish Ghetto in Warsaw and the surviving buildings of the Jewish District in Bucharest, and take trips to Krakow and Gdansk in Poland, and to Bran, Brașov, and Constanța in Romania. From the Baltic Sea port of Gdansk to the Black Sea port of Constanța, we will explore the edges of the old continent, complementing our cultural immersion with on-site lectures, film screenings, literary and academic readings, and direct dialogues with scholars, artists, and volunteers.

Our exposure to Europe’s borderlands as well as to the “collective memory of borderland populations” (Wastl-Walter) will make us aware of the values and cultural practices that transcend national borders, and the importance of storytelling in reconfiguring dislocated cultures.


CHID 471 / SLAV 490: The Borderlands between East and West (5 credits, SSc or A&H)

Fulfills Requirements
CHID Cultural and Historical Engagement
CHID Power & Difference
SSc Credit
Total Program Fees

*Note that the fees stated above do not include some additional costs, including, but not limited to: airfare and personal spending money. These costs will differ by program. Be sure to read our Fees, Financing, and Withdrawal information for details about the fee structure and payment schedule.