Legend describes the Slovak language as the most beautiful in the world: "As pleasant as a breeze in May, as nice as the smile of an innocent child."
But the language also has sounds and syntax that aren’t found in English, and only about 40,000 Americans speak it fluently.
Slovakia’s Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport would like to expand that number. And it has asked Cal U to help.
interim University President Geraldine M. Jones met with ministry officials in Bratislava, the Slovak capital, to sign a memorandum of understanding that will formalize a strategic partnership to promote Slovak language learning in the United States.
The visit also may open the door to exchange programs or other collaborations between Cal U and educational institutions in Slovakia.
“We hope this visit will be the first step toward an ongoing relationship that will benefit our Cal U students, as well as anyone who is interested in learning the Slovak language,” President Jones said.
As an initial step, Cal U is preparing to offer continuing education courses in the Slovak language through its website, www.calu.edu. Cal U will handle online registration, and the Web-based learning modules will be developed and maintained by the ministry.
User testing is under way, but no starting date for the online courses has been set.
“This is a low-risk, high-potential project,” said Provost Bruce Barnhart. “We can use our existing Web capabilities to handle registrations and make the online program available. With so many people of Slovak ancestry living in the region, we anticipate success.”
University officials were invited to Bratislava by the Ministry of Education, which hosted the delegation during its stay. Dr. William Edmonds, dean of admissions, and Dr. Gary DeLorenzo, associate professor of computer information systems, accompanied the President.
During the visit, President Jones was the sole representative of a U.S. university invited to speak at the international conference “Slovak Language in the World — Current Situation and Perspective.” Delegations from 46 nations were invited to attend.
“This mutual cooperation … furthers the mission of the University to provide educational services to its surrounding community, while providing an opportunity for positive international relations,” President Jones told the delegates, after delivering a short greeting in Slovak. “Your warmth and hospitality will remain with us long after we leave you.”