The Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (AMU) prepared a special scholarship programme for Belarusian students in distress under the country’s governing regime in the academic year 2020/2021. The programme was prepared as part of an endeavour to support Belarusian students and academics of the Belarusian State Academy of Arts that Jan Hančil, the Rector of AMU at the time, started in November 2020.
Thanks to this step, five applicants from Belarus were admitted to study at AMU. Three of them have started their studies at the Film and TV School (FAMU) at the Departments of Directing, Editing, and Photography, and two more students were admitted to the Music and Dance Faculty (HAMU); one of them has unfortunately not begun her studies yet. The student who has enrolled studies piano playing at the Keyboard Instruments Department. All the students have taken optional Czech language courses, which we consider important for their integration into the Czech society and artistic environment.
The organisationally demanding project was successfully steered by AMU’s International Department led by Jan Hančil and Klára Banotová who liaised and communicated with embassies, Ministries of Education and of Foreign Affairs, and Belarusian non-profit organisations. The success of the endeavour is also attributable to a great degree to Faculty coordinators, Lea Petříková (FAMU) and Veronika Kuželová (HAMU), who were in charge of day-to-day communication with the admitted students and the logistics of their arrival. Klára Banotová says: “The process of selecting and relocating the applicants from Belarus to Czechia started early this year and took until September when the students finally arrived in Prague. The greatest challenge was arranging their transfer to the Czech Republic under highly non-standard conditions. On a very short notice, it was necessary to arrange official formalities and obtain visas and other documents for the students to allow them to leave Belarus and Ukraine where one of the applicants had fled. We eventually succeeded in obtaining the visas despite the escalation of political developments in Belarus and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.”
Jan Hančil adds: “Our intention was and has been to offer students from the Republic of Belarus a long-term perspective and an opportunity to continue their studies in the years to come. We see this activity as a gesture of solidarity within the artistic community. AMU places emphasis on fostering an international environment, encourages openness and, as a school that was greatly involved in November 1989, understands its mission of encouraging an open civic society, including in the form of supporting students who flee from persecution under totalitarian regimes.”
The Academy of Performing Arts in Prague has currently applied for a grant, which the Ministry of Education has offered in support of Belarusian students, so that it can continue supporting the talented young people into the future and enable them to develop their skills and knowledge in an environment of dignity and safety.